AlmaLinux: Everything you need to know about the Linux operating system

AlmaLinux is a stable and free Linux variant which has been designed as a direct successor to CentOS. AlmaLinux is an interesting operating system for businesses and private users, as it has a dedicated community and a binary compatibility with Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

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What is AlmaLinux?

The AlmaLinux Open Source Foundation advertises its operating system with this slogan: For the community, by the community. It is not uncommon for a Linux distribution to be maintained by a community and made available to developers free of charge. However, AlmaLinux is a serious contender, considering it has been able to win over numerous users since its first release in 2021. This is due to its transparent approach, which allows users to follow all the steps and actively contribute if necessary. Its prehistory is also another reason for its popularity, considering AlmaLinux’s predecessor is a very popular operating system.

The history of AlmaLinux

The new distribution was developed once the end of CentOS was confirmed. CentOS is a free RHEL clone and is highly rated by many developers. The special feature of this system is the binary compatibility with RHEL. At the end of 2020, Red Hat announced that they would discontinue support for CentOS and offer CentOS Stream as a successor. However, this other Linux variant does not have binary compatibility with RHEL. CentOS Stream is a rolling release which tests the potential updates for the commercial RHEL. Understandably, this is not practical for many users. Thus, the desire for an alternative successor to CentOS came about.

There are currently two alternatives: Rocky Linux, named after the late CentOS co-founder Rocky McGaugh, and AlmaLinux. AlmaLinux is based on the same basic idea as CentOS. The goal is still a Linux distribution which is completely free and binary compatible with the current version of RHEL. The beta version of AlmaLinux was published on February 1, 2021. The stable version was released at the end of March of the same year. Support will be available until at least 2029. Numerous companies, such as ARM, AWS, Equinix and Microsoft, also support AlmaLinux.

What are the advantages of AlmaLinux?

While the basic idea of a free Linux distribution from the community is commendable, AlmaLinux ultimately must be measured by how good and useful the operating system proves to be. Therefore, we will be taking a closer look at the advantages of the Linux variant. The first advantage will be of interest to the users who previously relied on CentOS and need to switch. AlmaLinux is a clear alternative to the popular distribution.

Easy transition from CentOS to AlmaLinux

The transition is easy in terms of the provision and the binary compatibility with RHEL, and the usage in general. Those who know and like CentOS will quickly become accustomed to AlmaLinux. The fork of RHEL differs only slightly from its popular predecessor in terms of appearance and operation. Existing CentOS installations can also be migrated easily with a script.

Community

Another advantage is the community concept, which has a positive effect currently, but is likely to become even more important in the future. Improvements and changes are developed together and implemented quickly. The distribution has the needs of its actual users in mind and meets their requirements. There is a strong support and advice available when switching to AlmaLinux. The highly valued community will continue to be very important in the years to come, as they will be working on documents and updates to ensure that further development is carried out in the administrators’ best interests.

Source code and stability

The source code is based on RHEL, but it can be adapted and optimized for your own purposes. Necessary changes can be integrated after an exchange with the community. AlmaLinux is very stable andis therefore a secure option, especially in comparison to the two “siblings”. New software is initially available for CentOS Stream as a rolling release, but there is still the risk of minor bugs. Once these are fixed, the commercial version receives the update with Red Hat Linux Enterprise. Then, is it AlmaLinux’s turn. This way takes longer, but it is tested at least.

Costs and licenses

Of course, the cost factor should be mentioned. AlmaLinux is completely free, but it also offers the same features which commercial operating systems have. There are no fees or charges, and there are no licenses, service contracts, registrations, or usage restrictions. This distribution is truly dedicated to open source and is a worthwhile alternative to paid options.

What is the operating system designed for?

AlmaLinux sees itself as an enterprise operating system and is aimed at companies and organizations that are looking for a stable and well-maintained Linux distribution for commercial purposes. It is commonly understood to be a free alternative to the paid Red Hat Enterprise Linux; however, users can also use AlmaLinux to build a secure and application-optimized operating architecture. Servers work well with the Linux distribution, as they need a reliable operating system. The system is used in physical, virtual, and cloud-based environments. Despite its focus on companies, AlmaLinux is also suitable for private use.

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What are the alternatives?

Although AlmaLinux has impressed most users so far, it is still a very new Linux distribution. The system really can only be evaluated conclusively after a few years of use. However, there are some good alternatives to AlmaLinux. The obvious alternative is Rocky Linux, which was also created as a successor to CentOS. However, the operating system is still very new and has only been tested to a limited extent.

Debian and Ubuntu are both operating systems which have been on the market for many years, have countless users, and are excellently documented. openSUSE Leap is another stable and user-friendly alternative, which fosters the cooperation of an enthusiastic community. openSUSE Leap is very popular in the field of Linux server distributions.

Conclusion: AlmaLinux has started promisingly

AlmaLinux has thus far lived up to its claim of becoming a secure and user-friendly successor to CentOS. Due to the large and dedicated community, it seems that the operating system will continue to play a role in the future and establish itself as a recommendable alternative to RHEL. AlmaLinux is a good choice if you are looking for a stable and free enterprise distribution.


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