Skipping CentOS Stream? AlmaLinux 9 Beta is here

Joining RHEL 9 in the preview barn

AlmaLinux has released a beta for version 9 of its eponymous Linux distribution aimed at RHEL refuseniks still reeling from the dumping of CentOS by Red Hat.

The beta was released last night for x86_64, aarch64, ppc64le, and s390x architectures, "achieving architecture parity with upstream," according to the team.

The beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 9 turned up in November 2021 and so here we are with AlmaLinux OS 9 beta, codenamed Emerald Puma. A stated goal of AlmaLinux is 1:1 binary compatibility with RHEL, filling the gap left by Red Hat's discontinuation of CentOS in favor of CentOS Stream.

The distribution is focused on stability, although the 5.14 Linux kernel is included for more hardware options, as well as language packages (including Python, Rust, Go, Perl and PHP). Components and compilers have all received updates too. Cloud Images and Containers are due in the next few days.

It's a useful alternative to RHEL. Being in a beta state, the team has warned that the distribution should not be allowed near production kit "unless you don't mind if something breaks." Which is fair enough.

AlmaLinux, backed by sponsors including $1m a year from CloudLinux, has been on a roll lately. The first stable release of its CentOS replacement came in March 2021 and since then the team has clocked up releases. In recent weeks it appeared in the Microsoft Store for the Windows Subsystem for Linux, handy for developers standardized on RHEL but keen on their Windows code-wrangling tools.

The RHEL 9 beta was updated in the months since its release in November 2021 and by the looks of the things, AlmaLinux is based on a more recent update. It features version 1.17.7 of the Go Toolset, where the original RHEL 9 Beta from November used 1.16.6. Expect more updates on the road to GA.

As for alternatives, Rocky Linux (another CentOS replacement) announced in a December community update that it had started work on Rocky Linux 9, beginning with the RHEL beta sources. ®

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