Island in the Stream: AlmaLinux project issues first stable release of CentOS replacement

New CloudLinux-sponsored distribution hits GA ahead of Rocky Linux

The AlmaLinux project, sponsored by CloudLinux, has issued its first stable release along with details of a new open-source foundation set up to manage the project.

The AlmaLinux project, originally codenamed Lenix, was started soon after Red Hat informed the world that CentOS would be replaced by CentOS Stream.

Both are related to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), the commercial build, but whereas CentOS is a downstream community build, Stream is a late upstream build.

The Register spoke to Simon Phipps, who is a leading open-source advocate, former president of the Open Source Initiative, and also a board member of the new foundation. Other initial board members are Jesse Asklund from cPanel and Igor Seletsky, CEO of CloudLinux.

AlmaLinux is binary-compatible with RHEL and sponsored by CloudLinux

AlmaLinux is binary-compatible with RHEL and sponsored by CloudLinux

What was the problem with the CentOS changes? "The deal here is that there remains a need for a fairly stable downstream of RHEL," said Phipps. "Red Hat doesn't want CentOS to be that stable downstream any more. I'm pleased that a community-focused successor has moved into the space."

There are other options, including Rocky Linux, another project which kicked off in the aftermath of the CentOS statement, this one formed by original CentOS founder Gregory Kurtzer. Rocky Linux is aiming for a release "by Q2 2021" according to an update last month. It too will be under the stewardship of a foundation, the Rocky Software Enterprise Foundation.

red hat

Red Hat returns with another peace offering in the wake of the CentOS Stream affair: More free stuff


Why no release yet? "If our only goal for Rocky Linux was to debrand and repackage RHEL, we would already be done. However, what we're trying to do differently is figure out how we can keep Rocky Linux in the hands of the community. Carefully devising this strategy helps make sure that Rocky Linux will never meet the same fate of CentOS," says the FAQ.

How can users differentiate between these two CentOS replacements, or others?

"Looking at that niche, of a stable downstream for RHEL, what matters is that you've got a sustainable mechanism for making it get built. The advantage that AlmaLinux has got is, in CloudLinux, a backer who was already making a RHEL downstream for their own consumption," said Phipps.

"The other candidates to step into the void either are not a stable downstream of RHEL, they are from another Linux family; or they have to create the sustainable environment in which a stable downstream can be built from scratch."

The trade-off here is that Rocky Linux declares in its FAQ that "Rocky Linux will never be controlled, purchased, or otherwise influenced by a single entity or organization," whereas AlmaLinux is closely associated with CloudLinux, though the new foundation will give it some independence. There is room for both to succeed.

I'm sure that there will be some people at Red Hat who are a bit miffed by it...

We installed AlmaLinux on a virtual machine and it was a reassuringly dull experience. The distribution is released under GPLv2 and in order to proceed, we had to agree that "AlmaLinux 8 comes with no guarantees or warranties of any sorts, either written or implied."

What will the AlmaLinux foundation do?

"Its goal is to hold the trademark for AlmaLinux so that it can't be captured by an interested party," said Phipps, "and to make sure that trademark is used in a way that protects AlmaLinux from extinction. It is not intended to raise money.

 The AlmaLinux desktop

The AlmaLinux desktop (click to enlarge)

"We're following a model that's common in other open-source projects of separating the technical leadership and the business leadership. It's going to be down to the committers to the AlmaLinux project to decide the direction that it takes."

Will Red Hat be upset at the appearance of binary-compatible community builds of RHEL? "I'm sure that there will be some people at Red Hat who are a bit miffed by it," said Phipps.

"My experience has been that the Red Hat technical community is very accepting of community initiatives," though he added that, "given that the business side of Red Hat decided to switch the CentOS trademark to designate an upstream of RHEL rather than a downstream, I'm sure that the people who did that won't welcome it."

Phipps does not believe it will have a negative impact on Red Hat's business. "Community downstreams of RHEL created the market that Red Hat then monetized. Although they were not directly feeding its bottom line, they were growing the pie for everybody by existing… companies that wanted to get started with RHEL without having to have a relationship with Red Hat right from the beginning have been able to do so." ®

Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022