AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux

General Linux Topic

November 17, 2022 by Ashley

Key differences. AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux

As two new Enterprise Linux distributions, it makes sense to discuss AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux while almost one year has passed since Red Hat’s announcement of discontinuing CentOS 8. Both AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux are the two most popular RHEL forks. Linux-based OS fans may continue with CentOS Stream, but some bugs are reported that need Red Hat Engineers to release security updates to be solved. Undoubtedly, these distros are ideal to replace CentOS. But the main differences must be considered to make a correct choice.

In this article, we are going to explore 10 key differences between AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux to help you find which one might be your favorite and meet your needs. Having Linux-based VPS allows you to take your operating system to a new level. Regardless of which distribution will be your choice depending on your needs, buying a Linux VPS must be your priority to start using your considered distro.

Introducing AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux

The CentOS team accepted a deal with Red Hat in 2014, ten years after when Lance Davis and Gregory Kurtzer founded CentOS. Both AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux are downstream rebuilds of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux has some considerable results, but they are not so much different. Join us with this guide to review all the required details to display a correct view of AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux. Previously, you have read about the history of rocky Linux and also learned what AlmaLinux is. So, we will cut to the chase and avoid presenting repetitive content.

The founder of CentOS, who is behind Rocky, has a wealth of expertise in this field. However, AlmaLinux is primarily developed by the CloudLinux team, who have excellent experience with CentOS as well. As a result, the core development team has more than ten years of experience rebuilding RHEL. Therefore, they both have experience.

To freshen your mind let’s start with a comparison of the pros and cons and then review the main and key differences in the following of this guide. As we mentioned, AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux are generally similar to each other. But there are options you need to check to be able to find the winner from your point of view. So, have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of them below.

what is almalinux what is rocky linux

AlmaLinux Advantages

  • Free and open-source.
  • Regular updates (About 1 business day)
  • Ease of installation and use.
  • Owned by a non-profit.
  • Secure Boot.
  • Similar to the former CentOS.
  • Commercial support.
  • ARM support.
  • 1:1 RHEL binary compatibility.
  • PowerPC support

AlmaLinux Disadvantages

  • CloudLinux like Graphical Interface.
  • New distro compared to other ones.

Rocky Linux Advantages

  • Free
  • Ease of installation and use.
  • ARM support.
  • 1:1 RHEL binary compatibility.
  • Commercial support.
  • Secure Boot.
  • Regular updates (About 1 business day)

Rocky Linux Disadvantages

  • New distro compared to other ones.

Key differences between AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux

the following table gives you some helpful information at a glance.

FeatureAlmaLinuxRocky Linux
Release DateMarch 2021June 2021
ErrataPositivePositive
Owned ByAlmaLinux OS FoundationRocky Enterprise Software Foundation
Lifecycle10 years10 years
ARM SupportPositivePositive
Mirrors215 mirrors support for FTP, HTTP/HTTPS and RSYNC107 mirrors support for HTTP/HTTPS and RSYNC
Kernel Update0-1 days0-16 days
Release Lag2-8 days6-57 days
s390x supportPlannedTBD
PowerPC supportPositivePlanned
Owned by org typeNon-Profit 501(c)(6)For Profit, Public Benefit Corp
Secure BootPositivePositive
Commercial support3rd party3rd party
Regular updates delayAbout 1 business dayAbout 1 business day
1:1 RHEL binary compatibilityPositivePositive

AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux; Security

The CIS (Center for Internet Security) Benchmark is included with the AlmaLinux OS. All users can safeguard the configuration of their systems with CIS Benchmark. A tool called CIS-CAT even provides a comprehensive assessment of all potential security concerns. The beta versions of AlmaLinux 8.4 and 8.5 support CIS Benchmark. Additionally, the OpenSCAP tool is a game-changer for individuals who wish to proceed with utmost care. This program automatically looks for vulnerabilities in your system. The Network Time Security protocol is included with Rocky Linux 8.5 for usage with NTP and Secure Boot support.

Let’s see some other brilliant features of Rocky Linux 8.5:

  1. Fastest Mirror DNF plugin.
  2. Thunderbird with PGP support.
  3. Raspberry Pi AArch64 support.
  4. Enhanced Cockpit web console.
  5. OpenJDK 17 support.

AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux; Build Systems

Both Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux are created utilizing unique build procedures. To create its assets, AlmaLinux uses a specially designed AlmaLinux Build System (ALBS). The first build on build.almalinux.com is from September 15, 2021, so I believe I can safely assume that AlmaLinux 8.6 and 9.0 were built with ALBS, though earlier releases may have also been. I can’t find any concrete information about when AlmaLinux started using this build system, or if they were using it from the beginning, but earlier releases may have also been.

Koji (and other Fedora components) were used by the Rocky Release Engineering team to create Rocky Linux prior to version 9.0. Rocky’s own Peridot has taken the place of the build system of Rocky Linux 9.0. Most of the release latency for RL 9.0 was caused by the change in the build system.

AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux; Desktop Environment

AlmaLinux’s default desktop environment is the GNOME Desktop GUI. Fortunately, customers who have already installed a full desktop version of GNOME can still install KDE Plasma on AlmaLinux. KDE Plasma is actually available for users of BSD, Solaris, Windows, and Mac OS X as well. AlmaLinux’s default desktop environment is the GNOME Desktop GUI. Fortunately, customers who have already installed a full desktop version of GNOME can still install KDE Plasma on AlmaLinux. KDE Plasma is actually available for users of BSD, Solaris, Windows, and Mac OS X as well.

The typical panel in KDE Plasma makes it simple to enjoy online browsing, file management, or any other particular activity if you are a new Linux user. Your particular needs will ultimately determine whether you choose the Alma or Rocky Linux desktop environment.

AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux; Migration tools

Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux both provide migration tooling to aid in the conversion of a system from another distribution. The ELevate utility from AlmaLinux is advertised as supporting “migration between major versions of RHEL derivatives. Simple migration from any 8.x to CentOS 7.x.
The migrate2rocky tool is available with Rocky Linux. Rocky’s utility provides various scripts for migrations from EL8 to Rocky8 or EL9 to Rocky9 inside a major version. By mandating the upgrade of the EL8.x system to at least 8.5, migrate2rocky reduces the number of variables it must manage during migration.

AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux; Community

Gregory Kurtzer, a co-founder of CentOS Linux, established the Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation (RESF), a Public Benefit Corporation, specifically to “build a community around enterprise, research, academia, individuals, and other institutions” for Rocky Linux. The RESF is made up of team leads and other dependable members of the Rocky Linux community, and its objectives are to increase transparency and lessen the likelihood that one person or group will seize control of the project.

The AlmaLinux OS Foundation, a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization, provides AlmaLinux. It was created with the following goals: I further develop and maintain AlmaLinux OS as a no-registration, ad-free, stable, open-source Linux distribution for the benefit of and free use by the public, (ii) facilitate and promote the growth of a community of vendors and partners delivering solutions based on or complementary to AlmaLinux OS, and (ii Contributor Members, Mirror Members, Sponsor Members, and Alumnus Members make up the Foundation.

On the home pages of their websites, probably 99% of Linux distributions proudly fly the flag with the term “Community” on it. We all know that the Linux community can be built around this foundation.
The community is something that some Linux distributions truly value and appreciate. Others simply see it as a marketing strategy.
As long as you have a question, there is always a member of the AlmaLinux team available to welcome you and provide an answer. Sadly, I am unable to say the same with Rocky Linux.

AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux; Architecture Support

Both distributions initially supported x86 64, and with their 9.0 releases, they now both support aarch64, ppc64le, s390x, and x86 64. Support for aarch64 architecture first appeared in AlmaLinux 8.4, ppc64le support followed in AL 8.5, and s390x support debuted in AL 9.0. Rocky Linux, in contrast, has support for aarch64 from the beginning but not for ppc64le or s390x until RL 9.0.

AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux; Development Process

The methods used by Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux to generate their distributions differ slightly from one another in terms of upstream source, build processes, and architectural support. Being a product of CloudLinux, AlmaLinux uses the company’s current CloudLinux “RHEL clone” as the upstream. Rocky Linux uses the public git repository of Red Hat as its primary source. Are there advantages to one over the other? Not really, considering that CloudLinux apparently draws directly from the Red Hat public git repository.

AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux; Commercial Support

Commercial support is available for Rocky Linux and Almalinux. TuxCare is included in the first, whereas CIQ is included in the second.
KernelCare, as it was known in CloudLinux, is included in TuxCare. It is the new CloudLinux umbrella brand, which now includes support services for existing distributions as well as live patching for crucial components and systems past their End-of-Life.

In the case of Rocky, Kurtzer recently introduced CIQ, or Ctrl IQ, to offer assistance for Rocky Linux enterprise clients in sectors like high-performance computing (HPC), media, pharmaceuticals, and more.

To the extent that CIQ sponsors the Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation financially, as well as by recruiting engineers and devoting their time to the project, it is clear that CIQ is deeply invested in the success of Rocky.

AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux; Release Lag

Initial release lag and update release lag are the two different types of release lag.

Initial release lag
The original release latency is the first. This usually applies to major releases, however since AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux joined the RHEL rebuild the party in the middle of EL8.x, it also holds true for smaller releases.
AlmaLinux 8.3, which was released on March 26, 2021, was the first RHEL rebuild to get a GA release.

For RL 9.0, the entire Rocky Linux build system was replaced, which accounts for RL 9.0’s longer release cycle. Since Peridot is now in use, all future releases of Rocky Linux will be created using it. Because a quality release is more essential than being the first to release an asset, the Rocky Linux Release Engineering Team has pledged to only release assets after they have undergone testing and are prepared.

Update release lag

Update release lag is the second kind of release delay. This is the time interval between the release of a package update by Red Hat and the package update by the RHEL rebuild distribution. With so many updates to take into account, I’ll focus on just a few of the kernel updates to get an idea of the anticipated release lag. The file dates on my local mirror serve as the timestamps I am comparing.

With a normal lag of one day or less after Red Hat distributes the update for RHEL, the update release lag for both distributions has decreased significantly since the 8.4 release.

AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux; Cloud Provider Marketplace

There are three large cloud providers that have official and 3rd party images available for both AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux. Let’s check the cloud provider marketplace image status.

Cloud ProviderAlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux
AWSRocky Linux and AlmaLinux both have official offers for AlmaLinux 8 and 9 on AWS, which is available for x86 64 and arm64. There are roughly 365 AlmaLinux offers and 401 Rocky Linux offers overall, the majority coming from third-party publishers.
AzureAlmaLinux has a formal offer for both AlmaLinux 8 and AlmaLinux HPC on Azure. For Rocky Linux 8 on Azure, there is an official image. There are a total of 27 Rocky Linux offerings and 28 AlmaLinux offers, the majority of which are from third-party publishers.
Google cloudOne official Rocky Linux 8 product, one unofficial AlmaLinux 8 and 9 product, two unofficial Rocky Linux 8 products, and three unofficial Rocky Linux 8 goods are all listed on Google Cloud. Coincidentally, all of these unofficial products are OpenLogic offers.

Rocky Linux.

Since Rocky Linux is still a fairly new operating system, occasionally you might run across bugs. On the Rocky Linux website, you can register for an account and submit bug reports using the Bugzilla server.

In January 2021, AlmaLinux was made available, and Rocky Linux was released in February or March 2021. Although there isn't much of a difference, it influences people's choices, even though it shouldn't because the releases will be in beta and best practice says they shouldn't be used in production situations until they are consistently stable.

Conclusion

AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux was discussed in this article. To go through the similarities and differences 10 various topics were explained to clarify the way each one goes to reach them. Generally, AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux are very similar to one another, however, they are managed and controlled very differently. If you have to choose an RHEL-based replacement, you are recommended to go with AlmaLinux because due to each distribution’s management and funding systems Alma is easier to be preferred. Also, you can consider that  AlmaLinux has been more responsive and has gotten updates out sooner.

For the final thoughts, we can say that they both are top-notch, so whichever you choose will be perfect, and eventually, if you changed your mind, switching from one to the other is simple.

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