Server Setup

Choosing your RHEL 8 clone after the death of CentOS

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As we know, CentOS 8 is soon discontinued in favor of CentOS 8 Stream. This means that CentOS will no longer be an RHEL clone.

CentOS 8 Stream is the new operating system that will be used as a testing ground for RHEL itself.

And thus, the stability of the CentOS 8 stream is questionable. Especially in regards to running websites and software in production.

What to do?

Upgrading to an RHEL subscription is not an answer for many companies. New and old RHEL 8 clones, which are open source and free to install and use, are in town:

  • AlmaLinux
  • Rocky Linux
  • Oracle Linux

Which do you choose?

Choosing the right RHEL clone

The proper RHEL clone must be as close to the original as possible. In terms of packaging, versions and compatibility between the clone and the upstream, RHEL.
This will reduce the number of issues, as well as guarantee better security.

Here’s some information to help you in making the right choice.

AlmaLinux

There is nothing wrong with AlmaLinux, except that it does not come from an entity that originated CentOS itself.
Due to this fact alone, VPS and dedicated server providers will more likely ship its alternative, Rocky Linux.

Oracle Linux

It has been around for quite some time. However, there is no software versions parity against the upstream.
This makes many packages not compatible between the clone and the original.

Let’s take the selinux-policy package for example. All packages by this name, in Oracle Linux, have extra bits in the release field:

3.14.3-67.0.1.el8

These are not present in the original (RHEL), neither they are present in Rocky Linux or AlmaLinux:

3.14.3-67.el8

This makes the usage of%_selinux_policy_version RPM macro cause issues with -selinux packages.
The -selinux packages which are built on Oracle Linux will not install in RHEL, AlmaLinux, or Rocky Linux.

Oracle Linux for whatever reason, breaks compatibility there. And this is just the utmost noticeable difference.

In other simple words, Oracle Linux is not a well-behaving RHEL clone.

Rocky Linux

It is created by the original maintainer of CentOS. It will have delays, it might be sold out to RHEL all over again because the maintainer is the same person.
But all these things aside:

  • it will have more of the “CentOS” spirit in it.
  • It will be more recognized across cloud providers.
  • It is maintained by the same person, who despite some negative outcomes, led the community to a really popular project

We’ve found that Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux are much closer to upstream, while Oracle Linux fails at version parity between packages.

You have all the information at hand. Let us know what are you going to choose as your CentOS replacement, and why.

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