back to article Rocky Linux release attracts 80,000 downloads as ex-CentOS users mull choices

Rocky Linux 8.4, which was made generally available early last week, attracted 80,000 downloads within 72 hours, but disaffected CentOS users are wondering whether Rocky, rival AlmaLinux, or some other OS, is the right next move. Both Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux are designed to be binary-compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the early days of CentOS there were alternatives such as Whitebox and Scientific Linux if I recall the names correctly. There was eventually a kind of survival of the fittest and CentOS eclipsed the other two. I expect the same will happen with Rocky and AlmaLinux.

    1. MacroRodent

      Scientific Linux etc

      I actually used White Box Linux when I needed a RHEL clone, but it was a one-man band (or nearly), so after a year or two its maintainer gave up, and recommended CentOS, to which I moved.

      Scientific Linux was a bit different, it survived until fairly recently, and the reason is it was not just a RHEL clone, but bundled software that RHEL did not have (I think OpenAFS support was one notable addition).

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Scientific Linux etc

        Scientific Linux was specifically extensions on CentOS for the high energy physics community (think of it as more like Ubuntu Studio vs Ubuntu or similar)

        It got discontinued because most of what was in it was rolled into Centos mainstream and there was no longer a need for it.

        The increasing brokenness of RH over the last 10-15 years (where package versions may or may not reflect what's actually inside them thanks to backports of various parts of upstream, leading to people deciding that XYZ is out of date and they MUST compile a local version instead) has been increasingly driving the science community into the loving arms of Debian and Ubuntu or Suse

        RH have been making it increasingly clear for a long time that "stability" trumps "usability" and being able to run on the latest hardware - their cash cow customers are financial institutions with large fleets of near-identical systems mostly running as thin(ish) clients and everyone else is a nuisance

        There's a lot of inertia involved in "still using Redhat" in many places when the reality is that its model of heavily customised and misleadingly versioned RPMs doesn't fit most organisations using it and hasn't since the mid 2000s. Trying to bang that square peg into a round hold makes for a lot of extra administrative effort which can be better spent elsewhere

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Wasn't Yellow Dog another of them? I think what finished off the others was that Red Hat took Centos under its wing so it had the benefit of being the "official" Red Hat alternative.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yellow Dog was focused on the PowerPC architecture, and had a brief period of popularity for repurposing Apple kit and when PlayStation 3 consoles were used to build supercomputing clusters. That popularity disappeared when interest in using PS3s waned and Apple dropped the PowerPC architecture in favour of x86.

        1. shade82000

          "when interest in using PS3s waned"

          When sony disabled it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Totally off topic

        But, could I just thank you Doctor Syntax for giving me an ear worm of that bloody shit record by Yellowdog called One More Night.

      3. DrXym

        Yellowdog was a Red Hat Workstation for PPC, IIRC. I remember setting up a 10Gb partition on my PS3 and installing it and IBM's Cell SDK - probably one of very few who bothered despite the later mock outrage when Sony took away that feature because of an exploit.

        1. MacroRodent


          I don't think there is anything "mock" about an outrage caused by the manufacturer retroactively removing a documented feature some customers had come to rely on.

          1. DrXym

            Re: Outrage

            Oh absolutely it was mock because nobody had come to rely on the feature. Interest in OtherOS peaked and waned long before it was removed. The reason why is that the CPU / GPU was too slow to use for much - certainly not to play retro games or play media which might have stimulated some interest. Only a few clusters used it for the Cell processor and they wouldn't have been affected by firmware changes any way. Those making noise about it had never used it ever.

            As for why they removed it, Sony took it it out to protect their platform. There was a hypervisor exploit that could have become a viable through OtherOS so the feature went. Obviously Sony were thinking about their bottom line but even owners should see what happens to platforms when they get cracked - they turn into a cesspit of shovelware and die an early death.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Outrage

              This was the same Sony which put rootkits on their DVDs and CDs. They knew what they were doing.

              1. DrXym

                Re: Outrage

                Your non sequitur is a non sequitur.

    3. Beeblebrox


      Unfortunately, throughout this article, I kept reading AlmaLinux as AnimalLinux, now there's no going back for me.

  2. Jusme

    Sorry but...

    ...RedHat have poisoned the well. Next move will be away from them, not to another pretender.

    1. FuzzyTheBear

      Re: Sorry but...

      Might well be. I hope not. Time will tell but if there's a way i'd stay away from RHEL or anything that depends on it. Personal computers and mainframes have different needs . I can switch distros anytime on my desktops .. but on a mainframe , the implications are enormous. It's not a small matter. Can any fork be trusted to stay the course ? I'd say give it 5 years , then if it's stable, commit to it. But before that , i have a feeling the odds are against any of them being a good choice. Just a feeling.

  3. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Another indication of support is that Google has made a customised Rocky Linux

    Not sure that this is an indication of "support" if they've made their own version that they can control. If it was lacking something, they could have just submitted it as a contribution to the project, rather than going "right, we'll have that and slap in a load of our own stuff".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another indication of support is that Google has made a customised Rocky Linux

      I would guess Google are security conscious, and demand they have control of the software they use.

      I also guess they are also cost conscious, so they pick up free software X (like Rocky Linux), do some basic checks and mods, fiddle with package management, and call it their own - however they continually layer those mods over new versions of X. And often they will feed suitable mods back to X as contributions.

      1. amacater

        Re: Another indication of support is that Google has made a customised Rocky Linux

        Facebook are apparently using CentOS Streams - so on something that doesn't stabilise fully. What will be more interesting will be to see which CentOS fork Amazon picks as the basis for Amazon Linux which is the elephant in the room.[and the largest scale user of the Red Hat ecosystem.]

  4. ScissorHands

    Horses for courses, but twins

    Given their backgrounds, I'm expecting AlmaLinux to be popular in the webserving/VPS role, and Rocky on the HPC/Scientific/hardware integration role.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Horses for courses, and Twins into Deep Open See Phishing

      Given their backgrounds, I'm expecting AlmaLinux to be popular in the webserving/VPS role, and Rocky on the HPC/Scientific/hardware integration role. ..... ScissorHands

      I agree, ScissorHands, and Rocky Linux is a perfect candidate for CHAOS* Control which is EMPowering and Tends towards Trends that are Practically Almighty and Virtually Absolute.

      Red Hat's CentOS used to fulfil this role, until the company declared that in future it would be only CentOS Stream that previews rather than follows what will be in RHEL.

      That has CentOS hosting rather than drivering Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) which is a very convenient in-house AIdDevelopment for Future Systems Drivers .... Core AWEsome Source Ore Providers ..... Mega MetaDataBase Mine Suppliers with Registered Addresses and Quirky Handles everywhere they are landed to share considerably greater news than all are accustomed to and make comfortable with.

      * Clouds Hosting Advanced Operating Systems

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Horses for courses, but twins

      not disagreeing. maybe if the two distros collaborate closely (along with others forking from RH and/or CentOS), assuming they are not already, the community will be the biggest winner.

      but at least Linux (and FOSS in general) offers choice.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah yes CentOS the linux distro for those who like their packages years out of date. Personally I'm glad that stagnant pool has gone. Oh no, wait, now its spawned many puddles (sigh)

    1. Munchausen's proxy

      "Ah yes CentOS the linux distro for those who like their packages years out of date. Personally I'm glad that stagnant pool has gone."

      How many disparate users do your clusters support? How do you handle continuity of service while upgrading to new hardware?

      1. keithpeter Silver badge

        @Munchausen and all including OP

        Clustery options also include Springdale Linux. This RHEL clone dates from before Scientific Linux and is used at IAS and Princeton and a number of other academic sites.

        Springdale also works fine on my crappy old refurbished laptop. Cool isn't it? Boot iso only then rest of install over the wire.

        PS: does anyone know what Fermilab and CERN are doing after the CentOS discontinuation? Free RHEL licences or what?

        PPS: no mention of Oracle Linux? Like it is a total non-person? It is still there.

        1. amacater

          Fermilab and CERN were using Scientific and were mulling switching to CentOS after Scientific decided to not do CentOS 8 and to recommend CentOS 8. They're now, apparently, considering other options - one suggestion is that they might go to Ubuntu. Internal advice shows that a whole host of Linux distributions are made available internally.

          1. keithpeter Silver badge

            Thanks, so still at the stage of questions as here?...


            Cheers all.

            PS: would it be that hard to design and implement a cluster/HPC oriented Linux for academic use as a funded project and maintain it separately from the rapid metastasis of the desktop/boutique distro thing? I mean we are talking a fraction of a percent of the budget of the supercollider.

            1. amacater

              Supercomputers and non-RPM?

              I would suggest you go over and subscribe at A tiny mailing list full of very bright people who've been doing supercomputing / HPC for 30 years or so. It was an accident that they started out with Red Hat packages to form Extreme Linux all those years ago: it's really not easy to build something from scratch but it is do-able. There are some supercomputing facilities running on Debian and Ubuntu, I think, and genomics sequencing is largely Ubuntu at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, for example.

              1. keithpeter Silver badge

                Re: Supercomputers and non-RPM?

                Interesting threads amid the technical details (I'll just be browsing the archives rather than subscribing). Thanks.


          2. gregzeng

            "Fermilab and CERN were using Scientific and were mulling switching to CentOS ... - one suggestion is that they might go to Ubuntu. Internal advice shows that a whole host of Linux distributions are made available internally."

            Most creators of Linux operating systems use Debian or Ubuntu core, as the start of their creation. Third party creators prefer Deb application compilation. RPM compilation has several incompatible versions. Long term, does this mean the death of RPM?

            1. ortunk

              Ubuntu also sits on Debian Core ;)

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            There's a lot of pressure leaning towards a *buntu distro inside the sceince community

            People have used Redhat foreever because "everyone uses Redhat", so all the packages are RPMed

            Once it becomes too damned inconvenient to keep that model (and it is, because things like the latest version of IDL won't run on it anymore!), then there will be a mass push to something else

            which is happening, but older staff are resisting, this is leading to pockets of "geurilla computing" being setup "in spite of" the computing support groups in most places, not with their assistance.....

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Smirnov

      Ah yes CentOS the linux distro for those who like their packages years out of date.

      Isn't this more an audience for Debian Stable?

      Also RH backports a lot of stuff from newer packages so the version number of a package isn't really a good indicator on how old it is.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Ah yes CentOS the linux distro for those who like their packages years out of date.

        "the version number of a package isn't really a good indicator on how old it is"

        If you have any idea how many problems that causes when XYZ researcher wants ABC library version and RH only shows it's AAA (but is ABC internally).... Toys and prams happen a lot

        The result is usually very NON-portable software which requires endless tweakery to install anywhere else

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge

      uh, you forget that what initiated all of this is RH's desire to make CentOS a kind of "release candidate test" for the RHEL release. So it's AHEAD of RHEL on packages. FYI.

  6. Phil R

    This will be a show-stopper (or delayer) for some. From the Rocky Linux 8.4 release notes:

    "A Note about Secure Boot

    We know many of you depend on Secure Boot. It is a non-trivial process to get Secure Boot for a new OS. This process is underway and the shim-review process should begin very soon. Rocky Linux version 8.4 will initially be released without Secure Boot support enabled by default. However, once the proper packages have been built and signed, another set of ISOs for Rocky Linux version 8.4 will be released with Secure Boot support available."

    1. amacater

      Secure Boot - both Alma and Rocky are in the space of having to wait for shim packages etc. to be signed by Microsoft.

      1. Phil R

        Alma's shim was signed before they released 8.4.

        I had no problem building an AlmaLinux 8.4 server from their released .iso with secure boot enabled.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Whats the point in secure boot if 3rd party certs are required in the TPM? Surely it should work with keys/certs only belonging to the user and/or RockyLinux, doing signing oneself if necessary.

  7. Allonymous Coward

    Two of the three names posted for AlmaLinux make me think I’d probably check out Rocky Linux first, if I had a need to get off CentOS which luckily I don’t any more.

    1. ScissorHands

      Can you elaborate, AC?

      1. Allonymous Coward

        We shifted some workloads to RHEL, others to Amazon Linux. Work were happy to pay and wanted the certainty, so who am I to argue?

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "What I've learned was that simply being a non-profit is not a magic pill for honesty and integrity"

    Ain't that right, Nominet ?

  9. Jay 2

    The cynic in me wonders if (commercial offering) Cloud Linux have made Alma Linux out of the goodness of their hearts, or if they've got some sort of ulterior motive. Mind you, at least they have form in taking the RHEL source and making their own distro.

    On either distro option I'm one of the many wondering which way to jump. At work we've even looked at some other commercial options, but there's usually some sort of issue/gotcha which makes it not so obvious.

    1. amacater

      Jump to Debian or Ubuntu and leave RPM Hell behind? :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yep, amongst all this crazy kerfuffle, Debian just keeps plodding along reliably, and you know that they aren't going to suddenly turn around and go all money-grabbing on you.

        It would probably make quite a lot of sense for every organisation or research institution that was having a bit of a panic just now to roll up their sleeves and chip in some developer/packager time, and even a few coins here and there. I mean "software in the public interest" is pretty much where most of them are actually coming from, after all?

      2. oiseau

        Jump to Debian or Ubuntu and leave RPM Hell behind?

        Hmmm ....

        And get still have systemd hell?

        Devuan would be a much better choice.


    2. oiseau

      The cynic optimist | positivist in me wonders if ...

      There you go ...

      Reads much better, n'est-ce pas?


  10. WolfFan Silver badge

    ‘Rocky’, eh?

    Which Rocky? Frank ‘n ‘furter or flying squirrel? Admittedly, the thought of Boris, Natasha, and Fearless Leader trying to steal the secrets behind the Linux kernel has some appeal. As does the idea of Bullwinkle booting up a server.

    Yes, I’m a fan of early 1960s cartoons. No, not a fan of idiot Italian boxers. Rocky the squirrel should have bitten the, ahem, Italian Stallion somewhere painful. I pity the fool who dares to steal the name from the squirrel.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: ‘Rocky’, eh?

      We have Road Runner of Open Source with the Wile E. Coyote of Corporations trying to seize it

      1. FrankAlphaXII

        Re: ‘Rocky’, eh?

        The Multinationals are a hell of a lot more effective than that damned Coyote is, they're more like how actual Coyotes are: they watch and wait until there's a visible weakness and then strike or they keep testing defenses and shifting their internal organization (and leadership) around until they find a hole or an optimum way of attacking the existing defenses that works for them.

        Then again, the Roadrunner's a decent representation of open source, but if I've gotta pick a Southwestern desert, scrubland or steppe animal to represent it, I'd probably pick the Tarantula Hawk because while they're largely docile if they decide to attack the adversary may win, but it'll likely regret it.

  11. gregzeng

    Which organizational structure is better?

    The reasons are given on the advantages and otherwise of the many human resource options. Which legal structure to follow? Seems that the one unelected proprietor, & the commercial "for profit" enterprise is not seen as good for project health. The senior managers here have life experiences. History is littered with corporate failures. Most governance of human resources have questionable performance.

    Are there any guidelines on suitable legal structures?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They speak a lot of community; the reality is they are of course open to take contributions from the community and that's it. It is an extremely closed clique at the core.

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