AlmaLinux 8.5 now includes a PowerPC edition

Backer of thriving RHEL rebuild also hires senior SUSE architect

The AlmaLinux Foundation has announced the availability of a PowerPC version of its Red Hat Enterprise Linux rebuild for machines based on IBM's POWER architecture.

The new edition targets ppc64le – that is, little-endian 64-bit POWER-architecture. POWER and PowerPC processors were originally big-endian, as are IBM's z Series mainframes, as well as the Motorola 680x0 family that Apple replaced with PowerPC. However, x86 is little-endian, so support for little-endian operation makes it easier to port some x86 software to PowerPC.

Along with the project's original x86-64-only version 8.3, and the Arm Aarch64 edition it later added, the new edition means that AlmaLinux supports three out of the four CPU architectures that Red Hat itself supports. By comparison, its rival Rocky Linux still only supports x86-64 and Aarch64, although the project is working on it.

The AlmaLinux project recently celebrated a good first year, including launching its ELevate tool to upgrade from CentOS Linux (and compatible distros) 7.x to 8.x. Although Red Hat does publish some tooling to help with this, this is not a routine operation over in RHEL land and some commentators strongly discourage it.

Currently, ELevate supports upgrading from CentOS 7 to version 8 of AlmaLinux itself, and also to the same versions of Rocky Linux, Oracle Linux and CentOS Stream. (The capitalized "EL" in ELevate denotes "Enterprise Linux" – as in, the shared common base of all of these distros.) In future, the AlmaLinux Foundation hopes to broaden ELevate's remit, adding the ability to upgrade from the version 6.x generation, as well as to the forthcoming RHEL 9. The plan is to also support the new CentOS Stream and to allow Stream 8 users to upgrade to Stream 9, which remarkably is unsupported by Red Hat.

IBM started offering Linux-only POWER servers in 2015, and its newest POWER-architecture boxes, the Power10-based E1080, support ppc64le and RHEL, so AlmaLinux should slide in neatly as a replacement.

AlmaLinux project founders and sponsors CloudLinux recently hired the former product manager for SLE 15, Kai Dupke. In nearly 15 years at SUSE, Dupke led the SLE High-Availability, SLE Real-Time, and SLE High-Performance Computing initiatives. Now he's become VP of Product Management at CloudLinux brand TuxCare.

That this should come so closely behind SUSE's replacement of its rumoured CentOS-compatible distro with an expanded support offering is, we're sure, a complete coincidence – but having such talent aboard bodes well for the company's future. ®

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