CentOS Alternatives: Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux

Nov 2, 2022 | dedicated servers, M5 Hosting Blog

For former CentOS users, many are now wondering whether to adopt Rocky Linux or AlmaLinux instead. Learn why in today’s blog.

CentOS: The Beginning of the End

Community Enterprise Linux Operating System or CentOS for short, is open-source and uses Red Hat’s source code to create a final operating system that is very close to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). As a result, CentOS has been extremely popular among both developers and users who require enterprise-level production quality server environments. However, after Red Hat acquired CentOS in 2014, and then IBM acquired Red Hat in 2019, many users were concerned that circumstances would change – and they have. CentOS Stream, an upstream development platform designed for CentOS, was announced in 2019; then in 2020 the end-of-life for CentOS Linux became known to the public. 

Millions of experienced Linux users long preferred CentOS for their Linux server for years because it was stable, free, and enterprise-ready. In fact, CentOS has been the de facto default operating system for the majority of web hosting and server hosting service providers.

CentOS Stream is not a replacement option for CentOS Linux. CentOS Stream is designed to be an upstream development platform. It will act as a testing branch for RHEL where the updates get rolled out continuously, tested, and bug fixed for a stable release. This is not the production environment or enterprise-ready operating system for which CentOS Linux users relied upon, so this announcement caused a major storm within the Linux community.

Rocky Linux: A Heritage Linux OS

Greg Kurtzer, a CentOS co-founder, was one of the many CentOS Linux community members upset by Red Hat’s decision to discontinue CentOS. Greg decided to launch an alternative to fill the gap left by CentOS. He announced, “In response to this unexpected shift, I am proud to announce the launch of a new project, Rocky Linux, in honor of my late CentOS co-founder Rocky McGough“. 

Rocky Linux is intended to be a direct replacement for RHEL. According to Greg, Rocky Linux will be a “100% bug-for-bug compatible” version of RHEL. All Rocky Linux releases will be an identical mimic of RHEL releases.

Rocky Linux is owned by the Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation, a Public Benefit Corporation founded and owned by Greg Kurtzer. A public benefit corporation is a for-profit corporation that is intended to produce public benefits and to operate in a responsible and sustainable manner. 

Of course, with a Linux pioneer like Greg leading the charge in a product dedicated to Rocky McGough, RockyOS was welcomed among the Linux community and has been quite popular. 

M5 Hosting offers Rocky Linux Dedicated Servers.

AlmaLinux: A true community-owned and operated OS

CloudLinux has created a free open-source Linux operating system called AlmaLinux OS. Like Rocky Linux, AlmaLinux OS is binary compatible with RHEL and will follow the same release schedule as RHEL stable releases.

While CloudLinux, which also maintains a commercial Linux product, initiated and sponsored the start, AlmaLinux is now owned by a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization. This means it will always be free, open source, and community-driven without commercial licensing or usage restrictions. For organizations who require an enterprise-quality CentOS stable operating system, but do not want to pay for an RHEL license, and want to ensure they will always have access to a free product, AlmaLinux OS is an ideal choice.

Also, with CloudLinux’s sponsorship, security patches may be available to AlmaLinux before they are even available to RHEL due to CloudLinux’s hardened security expertise.

M5 Hosting offers AlmaLinux Dedicated Servers.

Rocky or Alma?

On a technical level, Both Rocky and Alma offer the stable, production-ready, enterprise-quality, RHEL compatibility formerly offered by CentOS. Within the Linux community, most see the major difference between Rocky and Alma as their relationship to a commercial enterprise. While both Rocky and Alma have massive community support, ultimately Rocky is privately owned whereas Alma is owned by a not-for-profit. Either OS offers a quality alternative for former CentOS users.

Need help deciding on your dedicated server? Contact M5 Hosting.