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AlmaLinux comes to Windows Subsystem for Linux

Community-supported, Red Hat-compatible distro now available to Microsoft fans

A Windows Subsystem for Linux-friendly version of AlmaLinux has turned up in the Microsoft Store, adding to an impressive array of options for WSL users.

Born out of Red Hat's CentOS shenanigans, in which the freebie downstream fork of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) was axed, AlmaLinux was created to provide a community-supported and RHEL-binary compatible distribution. The first stable release was in March 2021 and the non-profit foundation has since been raking in new members, including the likes of AMD last month.

AlmaLinux has claimed some high-profile scalps as companies weigh up their options following Red Hat's CentOS decision. CentOS went end-of-life at the end of 2021, leading to companies such as GitLab opting for a move to AlmaLinux for its build platform.

The distribution adds to the list of options available to WSL users, including SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and the seemingly ubiquitous Ubuntu. WSL is Microsoft's take on running Linux distributions (and applications) under Windows. The first iteration of the platform was a translation layer, while the second added a Linux kernel for a bit of extra compatibility while also implementing a lightweight virtual machine approach.

Firing up the distribution under WSL is straightforward and brings up an environment that lays claim to 1:1 binary compatibility with RHEL.

Other Red Hat-compatible options in the Microsoft Store include Whitewater Foundry's Pengwin Enterprise 8, although the Pengwin take is built on Rocky Linux and, according to the company, is "for demonstration purposes and personal use only."

While tweaking a Linux distribution to work under WSL2 is not exactly rocket science (indeed, there are many how-to guides floating around the web concerned with making RHEL work on the platform), AlmaLinux's arrival is significant, particularly for developers in environments that have standardized on RHEL but prefer Windows for their code-wrangling tools. ®

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