If you are an enterprise Linux server administrator, most probably you’d worked with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) or Oracle Linux if the company you are working for is eager to pay support fees. Otherwise, you’d use CentOS Linux until Red Hat announced in 2020 that it will no longer be available as a standalone distribution. Instead, the company unveiled CentOS Stream, a beta version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
AlmaLinux is the new king
Shortly after the announcement the search for CentOS alternatives has begun. Just at this time, AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux projects were launched. Gregory Kurtzer announced via a comment on the CentOS website that he would again start a new project. After a short time, Rocky Linux project started. The project name was chosen as a tribute to early CentOS co-founder Rocky McGaugh. In the meantime, the AlmaLinux project was kickstarted by the team behind CloudLinux.
Later, under the leadership of Igor Seletskiy, CEO of CloudLinux, a non-profit organization, AlmaLinux OS Foundation was established. Shortly after, he stepped down from the foundation board – benny Vasquez is now the Chair of the Board of Directors at AlmaLinux OS Foundation. Today, the community is developing and driving the project, which makes everything transparent.
It is obvious to say the AlmaLinux project is one step ahead of Rocky Linux, it releases the 1:1 binary compatible RHEL version just after the original version is released. A few days after the release of RHEL 9, with the hard work of the developers, AlmaLinux 9 arrived. AlmaLinux has all the same features and almost offers the same user experience to RHEL users. Other than that, the AlmaLinux community keeps growing and the team is working on a new build system, which allows the users to create packages for AlmaLinux OS, apart from the developers.
Supported architectures and images
AlmaLinux 9 is not only running on x86 architectures, such as x86_64 and aarch64. It is also available for IBM’s PowerPC ppc64le and IBM Z s390x. Besides the server architectures, AlmaLinux is also giving life to the servers by the following cloud images:
- AWS AMIs for x86_64 and Graviton Instances
- Azure Images in standard and HPC flavors for x86_64 and aarch64
- Google Cloud
- Generic Cloud/Cloud-init for all four architectures
- Open Nebula
- Oracle Cloud Infrastructure for x86_64 and aarch64
AlmaLinux 9 features
AlmaLinux 9 is powered by the Linux kernel 5.14.0-70.13.1.el9 0. It includes several improvements to cloud and container development, as well as security updates. While introducing SAP and SAP HANA repositories to the system, the new release signs packages and repositories using the new RPM-GPG-KEY-AlmaLinux-9 GPG key. It also includes various improvements to the Web Console (cockpit), such as improved performance data and the ability to identify bottlenecks. Web Console may now use a single build node to apply a live kernel fix and produce images. AlmaLinux 9 also adds new security profiles and enables Smart Card Authentication via the Web Console.
AlmaLinux is the best option to use a free RHEL-based enterprise Linux distribution. If you don’t need Red Hat Support, in other words, if you are already an RHEL-based distribution expert, you can use AlmaLinux for all your projects. Migration from CentOS or RHEL to AlmaLinux is a very easy and quick process. The developers published a migration tool, “ELevate” that is free and public for everyone. You can download ELevate from AlmaLinux’s official website. When you need help, you can always get in touch with the community via AlmaLinux Chat, Forums, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Automation and web cockpit improvements
- More performance metrics in web cockpit
- Access to information to identify bottlenecks
- Easier data export to data analytics and reporting tools, such as Grafana
- Ability to apply kernel live patching inside web cockpit
- Ability to build images via a single build node
- Ability to use Smart Card authentication to access remote hosts
- Additional security profiles to help comply with standards like PCI-DSS and HIPAA
- More logging details from SSSD, the open-source client for enterprise identity management, such as time to complete tasks and errors
- A new log parsing tool for SSSD debug log analysis, which acts as “a grep front-end” for new search capabilities
- AlmaLinux 9 integrates OpenSSL 3, which allows for use of the latest security standards and security ciphers for encrypting and protecting data
- A new FIPS module has been submitted for FIPS 140-2 validation, the federal security requirement for cryptographic modules
- Benefits from digital hashes and signatures that are provided by the kernel integrity subsystem, Integrity Measurement Architecture (IMA) for verifying the OS
- SSH root password login is disabled by default
Application Development Environment updates
- GCC 11 is the default system compiler
- Latest versions of LLVM, Rust, and Go compilers
- Version 2.34 of the GNU C Library project (Glibc)
- Python 3.9, which includes proper timezone support, a new high-performant parser, new string functions, dictionary update, and merge operators
- AlmaLinux 9 UBI base images
- Standard, micro, minimal, and init images
- Updated Podman container engine
- Cgroup2 by default, is supported by Podman, which adds rootless containers and better memory management and is now more frequently required for Kubernetes tooling.
If you are interested in contributing to AlmaLinux OS project, you can check the Contribution Guide.
What are the latest AlmaLinux versions?
How long will AlmaLinux be supported?
AlmaLinux 8.X versions will be supported until 2029 and AlmaLinux 9.X versions will be supported until 2032.
Is AlmaLinux free?
Yes, AlmaLinux is a completely free and open-source Linux distribution.
Is AlmaLinux lightweight?
Yes, AlmaLinux is a lightweight and strong enterprise-focused Linux distribution.
Who owns AlmaLinux?
AlmaLinux is a community-driven Linux operating system. The AlmaLinux OS Foundation is a non-profit organization created for the benefit of the AlmaLinux OS community.
Is AlmaLinux same as RHEL?
Yes, AlmaLinux is an RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) fork and is 1:1 binary compatible with it.
Is AlmaLinux same as CentOS?
Yes, AlmaLinux is one of the best CentOS alternatives and is 1:1 binary compatible with its pre-Stream version.
Is AlmaLinux good for servers?
AlmaLinux is an enterprise-focused Linux distribution that delivers a variety of tools for use on servers.
Does AlmaLinux have a desktop environment?
Yes, AlmaLinux has a desktop environment. It comes with GNOME by default. You can install any other desktop environments according to your needs.
Can AlmaLinux be installed on a virtual machine?
Yes, AlmaLinux can be installed on a virtual machine. A virtual machine (VM) allows you to run an operating system within another operating system. This means that you can install AlmaLinux on a virtual machine and run it on top of your current operating system, without the need to replace it or partition your hard drive. To install AlmaLinux on VMWare, you can refer to our article: How to create VM and install a Linux distro on VMWare Workstation