A one-to-one drop-in replacement for CentOS

Arising from the ashes of CentOS, AlmaLinux offers a community-owned and -governed CentOS alternative.

New distributions appear all the time. Many are specialized or remain small. A notable exception is AlmaLinux [1]. Emerging out of the troubled relationship between Red Hat and the CentOS distribution, AlmaLinux has become one of the major replacements for CentOS in less than half a year. This month, Jack Aboutboul, AlmaLinux’s community manager, discusses the distribution’s seemingly overnight success.

Linux Magazine: Although Red Hat acquired CentOS in January 2014, in many ways, CentOS continued development much as before for seven years [2]. Then in early 2021, Red Hat announced the discontinuation of CentOS, except for a development ground for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) called CentOS Stream [3]. How did these events lead to the creation of AlmaLinux?

Jack Aboutboul: CentOS, prior to Red Hat’s announcement, was always a downstream product of RHEL, so once RHEL was released, the same sources were taken and used to build CentOS. Red Hat’s decision shifted that dynamic to one where CentOS actually now becomes the feeder for RHEL, so more development now takes place in what is CentOS Stream and that gets merged into RHEL. Red Hat also decided to shorten the lifespan of a CentOS release from 10 years to 5 and also to push up the end-of-life date for CentOS 8, which made people pretty frustrated.

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