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The new generation of CentOS replacements – plus the daddy of them all: RHEL 8.6

Rocky and Alma are here for those CentOS Linux users who are still smarting

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.6, Alma Linux 8.6 and Rocky Linux 8.6 are all out now, for various platforms.

RHEL version 8.6 arrived on May 11, and is the latest update to 2019's RHEL 8, codenamed "Ootpa." RHEL point releases are relatively neat affairs compared to, say, Ubuntu's short-term support releases.

8.6 is a step up from last November's RHEL 8.5. It's still based on Fedora 28 and still uses the same kernel version. In this version, you get kernel 4.18-372, which has another six months' worth of bugfixes, security updates and so on.

Subcomponents include PHP 8.0, Perl 5.32, GCC 11, LLVM 13.0.1, Rust 1.58.1, Go 1.17.76, and your choice of OpenJDK 1.8, 11 or 17. It also supports Log4J 2, which should be safe. If you decide to install a desktop, GNOME is now on version 3.32.

Red Hat supports AMD and Intel x86-64 processors, 64-bit ARM, IBM POWER systems in little-endian mode, and 64-bit IBM z Series mainframes.

AlmaLinux sports a funky coloured wallpaper and lock screen

AlmaLinux sports a funky coloured wallpaper and lock screen

Close on its heels followed AlmaLinux 8.6, codenamed "Sky Tiger", on May 12. As we described when it launched its first version, AlmaLinux is built from the RHEL source code that Red Hat makes available, so although it has its own codename, logo, wallpapers and so on, it is the same OS, with the same versions of the same components.

For version 8.6, the AlmaLinux OS Foundation offers versions for x86-64, AArch64 and ppc64le. Support is via its online community, which hang out on most online forums you could hope for. There are groups on Mattermost, Discourse, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and IRC (ircs://

Rocky Linux 8.6 sports a subdued theme and wallpaper

Rocky Linux 8.6 sports a subdued theme and wallpaper

Rocky Linux 8.6, codenamed "Green Obsidian" like the other 8.x releases, followed a few days later on May 16. Its name is a tribute to a CentOS co-founder, and at present, the distro offers x86-64 and AArch64 versions. Rocky has a chat channel on Mattermost, on Twitter, LinkedIn, on Twitch, a YouTube channel, its own forums, and a subreddit.

Its "Social" page also mentions an IRC to Mattermost bridge. The project's gemstones page looks like an interesting place to share hints and tips.

At the technical level, all of these are the same operating system. That was the point of CentOS Linux and the other rebuilds. Red Hat changed direction and said in December 2020 that CentOS would become CentOS stream, based on a development branch of RHEL and not suitable for productiuon environments. RHEL is for paying customers who want the value-added services and support that Red Hat offers.

If you don't want to be a Red Hat customer – and some CentOS Linux users still feel sore – then whether you choose AlmaLinux or Rocky Linux may depend on which community you prefer.

For instance, as CloudLinux sponsors AlmaLinux, then CloudLinux customers and people running shared cloud hosting servers might find that other Alma users have issues like theirs.

As high-performance computing specialist CIQ sponsors Rocky Linux, then those running CIQ products or HPC clusters might find that the Rocky Linux community understands their needs. ®

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