New RHEL8 Clone: AlmaLinux has been released

Posted by: mstauber Category: General

AlmaLinux is a new RHEL fork from the team at CloudLinux. It is a free Linux OS for the community and developed in close co-operation with the community.

In our recent news article we mentioned the betrayal (we'd like to call it what it is) of the CentOS community that RedHat recently pulled off: They shifted the EOL of CentOS 8 from 31st May 2029 to 31st December 2021 and announced that CentOS 8 would transition into "CentOS Stream" with rolling releases that introduce new features even before RHEL8 gets them.

For many open source and even some commercial CentOS based projects and endeavors this creates a massive headache: So far CentOS has always been predictable. We would know that something compiled on (say) CentOS 6.0 during release would *still* run fine on CentOS 6.10 when it went End-of-Life. Like it is now with CentOS 7. The focus-shift on CentOS 8 to "CentOS Stream" takes this guarantee directly off the table.

If libraries that we compile against, dependencies, daemons or API change during the lifetime of an OS, then anything that builds on top of that is at peril and might stop working at any time after after installing OS updates. And as there is no advanced notice of what changes are in the pipe any future YUM update is a time-bomb for any project that is built on top of a rolling-release 'CentOS Stream'.

Luckily the inexplicable and ill advised "direction change" at RedHat directly sparked a community outrage that proved to be very productive. Gregory Kurtzer (retired co-founder of CentOS) started RockyLinux, which aims at being a true binary-compatible RHEL8 clone the same way that CentOS used to be. They are (at this time) perhaps a few weeks away from their initial release.

The folks over at CloudLinux also directly announced that they'd be starting a community developed RHEL8 clone, which (after a short name finding period) named AlmaLinux.

They just released Beta ISO's of AlmaLinux 8.3 that allow to install it as easily as you're used from CentOS.

We just tested their "minimal" ISO and installed it and we can say that it looks very solid and fully matches our expectations. We then installed BlueOnyx 5210R on top of it via our manual install procedure. That also worked without a hitch and resulted in a fully usable BlueOnyx 5210R.

As AlmaLinux 8.3 is binary compatible to CentOS 8 the only real difference is that the "centos-release" RPM has been replaced with a "almalinux-release" RPM that ties it into different upstream mirrors, gives it a different name and introduces rebranded artwork. Likewise RPMs that had any RedHat branding have been debranded or rebranded. Any existing CentOS 8 can easily be switched over to AlmaLinux by just replacing the "centos-release" RPM with their "almalinux-release" RPM.

[root@alma ~]# cat /etc/redhat-release
AlmaLinux release 8.3 Beta (Purple Manul)

Bottom line: This looks good and we have a new OS for 5210R that will serve us until the upstream RHEL8 goes into EOL in 2029.

Next step? I'm now off trying to build a 5210R ISO based on the AlmaLinux ISO. Once AlmaLinux leaves Beta we'll release PKGs for BlueOnyx 5210R that allow you to "convert" your CentOS 8 based BlueOnyx 5210R's into AlmaLinux based BlueOnyx 5210R's.

Follow-up: A script to convert CentOS 8 based BlueOnyx 5210R to AlmaLinux 8 is now included in BlueOnyx 5210R.

Feb 1, 2021 Category: General Posted by: mstauber
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