Rocky Linux vs. AlmaLinux: Which is best?

Pink Hat’s alternative of CentOS with CentOS Stream has upset corporations that rely upon Linux as their server OS.

CentOS Stream is a rolling release OS, which suggests it is not best from a reliability standpoint because it doesn’t have a hard and fast replace release schedule. Nevertheless, shortly after Purple Hat declared the discontinuation of CentOS, two comparable distributions have been introduced: Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux. These two distributions have turn out to be widespread among CentOS users.

Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux have comparable use instances and help the identical architectures. Nevertheless, Rocky Linux is a 1-to-1 binary to RHEL whereas AlmaLinux is Software Binary Interface-suitable with RHEL. Each distributions also have a distinction in funding. Examine these newer distributions to determine which OS is greatest on your company.

Plans to overcome the RHEL source limitation

IBM acquired Purple Hat in 2019. In June 2023, Purple Hat/IBM determined to make the supply for RHEL personal, which makes it a challenge for Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux to stay 1-to-1 suitable with RHEL. To this finish, both distributions have taken totally different paths.

Rocky Linux’s path

Gregory Kurtzer is the creator of CentOS and Rocky Linux. Starting with CentOS, Kurtzer’s aim was to create a free Linux distribution that’s 1-to-1 binary suitable with RHEL. He created Rocky Linux to select up where CentOS left off.

Rocky Linux has opted to retain the 1-to-1 compatibility by means of public cloud situations and Universal Base Pictures which are based mostly on RHEL.

AlmaLinux’s path

AlmaLinux is the product of CloudLinux. AlmaLinux is group-pushed and targeted primarily as an enterprise-grade Linux distribution. Like Rocky Linux, the aim of AlmaLinux is to stay 1-to-1 binary suitable with RHEL.

Nevertheless, AlmaLinux has opted to drop its aim to remain 1-to-1 binary suitable with RHEL. As an alternative, AlmaLinux’s new objective is to be Software Binary Interface-suitable with RHEL. To perform this, AlmaLinux plans to make use of CentOS Stream supply code that Pink Hat continues to make obtainable.

The similarities between Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux

On the floor, Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux are comparable. Their lifecycle is 10 years, they’re focused as production-grade, enterprise OSes, help is around eight years for each and updates are common — with a one-enterprise-day lag from RHEL.

Each distributions use the Pink-hat Package deal Supervisor and Dandified Yum package deal manager. Managing purposes in Rocky Linux or AlmaLinux is just like RHEL. These distributions additionally use firewalld, iptables and SELinux as their main security mechanisms.

Another similarity is that Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux help the identical architectures: x86_ 64, aarch64, ppc64le and s390x.

Both distributions embrace the next repositories, enabled by default:

  • BaseOS: The core set of software packages for performance.
  • AppStream: Further consumer area purposes, runtime languages and databases.
  • Extras: Packages that are not out there in RHEL.

For installations with a GUI, Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux default to the GNU Network Object Mannequin Surroundings.

AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux share comparable uses. Both work for enterprise-grade servers, resembling net and database servers. They are additionally just like container and cloud deployments. Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux are suited to tackle any use case RHEL can be used for.

The key variations between Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux

The variations between Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux aren’t straightforward to identify, which is a product of both distributions being based mostly on RHEL.

One difference is discovered inside the realm of security. Though each embrace Safe Boot, SELinux and lots of comparable superior options in RHEL, AlmaLinux provides a give attention to the Middle for Web Security Benchmark.

Beyond that, funding is totally different for every distribution and might be the deciding issue for a corporation to decide on one over the other.

AlmaLinux is driven by a nonprofit. CloudLinux and other sponsors, like WebPros and Black Host, grant AlmaLinux a $1 million annual sponsorship to ensure the distribution will proceed and all the time be free. Cloud Linux has been round since 2009. This set amount of funding per yr and longevity of CloudLinux assures customers that AlmaLinux will all the time have funding for updates.

Rocky Linux is group pushed. In 2022, Ctrl IQ (CIQ), the founding sponsor and repair provider of Rocky Linux, gave $26 million in funds to the distribution. This can be a one-time fund to Rocky Linux, which suggests extra funds are wanted sooner or later. CIQ was founded in 2020. Rocky Linux prospects is perhaps deterred from the distribution if they do not need to take an opportunity with a more moderen company sponsoring Rocky Linux.

Nevertheless, that isn’t to low cost Rocky Linux. CIQ may be a newcomer, but they have grown fast and have an impressive popularity inside the world of know-how. Kurtzer has an enormous constructed-in fan base due to CentOS, so the Rocky Linux group should continue to develop. With Kurtzer’s dedication to enhancing what he did with CentOS, customers may be sure he’s committed to the group.


Based on Google Developments, AlmaLinux has been the extra common selection since around July 2020. The development continues as AlmaLinux sees extra curiosity over time and a larger subregion breakdown inside the USA. And for those who examine the 2 on a worldwide scale, the difference is even more dramatic. Nevertheless, for those who take a look at another metric report — which focuses on precise utilization — you will see a way more accurate itemizing of how every RHEL-based mostly OS tendencies.

Whichever you decide, AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux will function correct replacements for CentOS or RHEL. In case you are not sure, then download each, install them and see which one matches your needs one of the best.

Jack Wallen is an award-profitable author and avid promoter/consumer of the Linux OS.

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