back to article CERN, Fermilab particle boffins bet on AlmaLinux for big science

AlmaLinux, a somewhat popular free Linux distribution derived from Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), received a vote of confidence on Thursday from the European and American science communities. CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, based in Switzerland, and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), based …

  1. thames

    Been using it for almost a year.

    I've been using AlmaLinux as a replacement for CentOS for automated software testing for almost a year now, and I've had no problems with it that I can recall. I can recommend it for that purpose without hesitation.

    I was motivated to use it by CentOS dropping support of their then latest release. I had to either pick something new or drop Red Hat as a supported distro for my software project. AlmaLinux was a straight drop in replacement for CentOS.

    I want to congratulate Lord Raglan and Marshal Saint-Arnaud for their success at Alma, hard fought it no doubt was. With that out of the way Sebastopol should be within their grasp before long. Hurrah!

    1. coredump

      Re: Been using it for almost a year.

      Echo this. I had a CentOS 8 laptop for mobile duty, and after Red Hat changed CentOS to Stream I wasn't sure about next steps and upgrades.

      Rocky & AlmaLinux announcements happened, so I watched and waited a bit; Alma released first, to pretty good reviews, so I decided to give it a try -- I was already considering a reinstall to Debian so it was a low stakes move.

      Downloaded the Alma script and let it go, came back later and after a reboot it was AlmaLinux. Updates as usual ever since, now at 8.7, no reason to think I can't continue like this for a while if I want to.

      In short, if you want an RPM-based Linux and you're used to CentOS, AlmaLinux should be a pretty easy transition for you.

      Not sure if I'll stick with it to version 9, seems like Red Hat are making fundamental changes again and I haven't really investigated yet; but at least AlmaLinux brought me some time to continue running like I had been, while I decide if there's a compelling reason to move forward with Red Hat's new paradigms or return to the known comfort of Debian.

      1. jayachar88

        Re: Been using it for almost a year.

        What kind of fundamental changes in RHEL9 are making you reconsider if you'd stick with a RHEL clone-distro ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Been using it for almost a year.

          If you're interested in feedback from others, the main things I've seen are

          1) they don't seem to have tested the install environment on a server. Haven't had a chance to test 9.1 on a real box yet but 9.0 did weird things if you installed with multipathed disks, it wanted to include the MP device and all of the individual disks so it tried to create areas bigger than it had storage for. The fact that this hadn't shown up in test is a little worrying. Makes it obvious why so few people ever want to go live on a point zero release. As I say I've not had a chance to test this with 9.1.

          2) no alternative to network manager being offered. Maybe they default to ignoring all the virtual devices now but this has always caused me issues in the past with NM,

          Otherwise there doesn't seem to be anything too major, not that I've had as much time to play with it as I'd have liked.

          I'd be interested to see other peoples feelings.

          I've also not had a chance to try Rocky 9 at all yet. Alma 9 is as I'd expect and I've no reason to believe that Rocky 9 will be any different.

          Both Alma & Rocky are getting SW out the door way faster than CentOS has been doing in the last few years which I see as a good thing.

  2. OldCrow 1975

    What. Thenbwhy did they quit Scientific Linux

    Bring back Scientific Linux

    1. Bebu Silver badge

      Re: What. Thenbwhy did they quit Scientific Linux

      Princeton's IAS' Springdale Linux [SDL] (was PUIAS) is a decent replacement for SL/SLC

      Springdale Linux

      Packages from the computational base repo can also be installed under RHEL/CentOS/Alma/Rocky as they generally install under /usr/local/.

    2. nautica Silver badge

      Re: What. Thenbwhy did they quit Scientific Linux

      They quit Scientific Linux for the simple reason that they (CERN, Fermilab, et al) are a research organization, and not a Linux-distribution developer.

      They discovered what far too many Linux distro developers discover only after the fact, and will not admit to even once it becomes painfully obvious--

      ...that, if one wants to do a truly first-rate job of being a distro developer, paying attention to the details of validation testing, Q-A, responding to bug reports, code repair, developing that next newer, faster, more feature-filled version...take far more time than simply developing a distro; and requires not only dedication to that one task but an immense amount of resources--time AND money.

      Why do you think that there ≈ 240 distributions on DistroWatch's "Waiting List", and over 800 on their "Dormant and Discontinued" list?

      As DistroWatch says--

      "Linux distributions come and go. Only the most determined ones survive and these pages list the victims of the game. In the Linux development world, everybody is equal - large corporations with experienced programmers spending millions of dollars on the development often fare no better than a single developer working out of their spare bedroom. Thank you all for your contribution and we bid you farewell."

  3. nautica Silver badge

    Another choice would be nice.

    Scientific Linux provided one with a choice of DEs: Gnome, IceWM, and KDE.

    It appears that AlmaLinux is only available with Gnome.

    I wonder if CERN/Fermilab have any intention of working with AlmaLinux, to offer another DE besides GNOME?

    1. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: Another choice would be nice.


      Suspect the main requirement is for server use.

      It was the case for e.g. CentOS 7 that other DEs were made available in the additional repositories such as elrepo.

    2. cream wobbly

      Re: Another choice would be nice.

      Large organizations need to provide support for the available software. Rocky and Alma only provide what the upstream vendor provides, and they only provide support for one DE. (It happens to be the most functional one, but I'll never convince you desktop alternative "I want my Linux to look like Windows 95" types…)

      Quick reminder that you're commenting on an article about CERN picking *one* of the multiple RHEL rebuilds. No choice.

  4. karlkarl Silver badge

    This is great news. I was always really interested in what they were going to choose in the end. For a brief bit I thought they were going to settle with CentOS Stream which would be a little disappointing.

    Did they give a specific reason for not going with Rocky Linux? That one seemed a little more community driven although I understand both are corporations (PBC) underneath.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Even at CERN "open" has to mean "gratis"...

    I wonder who should pay for open source development...

    1. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: Even at CERN "open" has to mean "gratis"...

      The first time round, when Scientific Linux was born, the calculation was simple: RedHat's licence fees for the colossal number of cores in use >> cost of hiring some people to work exclusively on recompiling OS from RedHat's generously provided srpms. I recollect a hilarious powerpoint presentation that had some details of the licence negotiations with RedHat's sales people.

      I would not be at all surprised if a similar calculation has been performed leading to the current situation. Fermilab/CERN are basically swapping one clone for another clone, but also purchasing some RHEL licences so RedHat may be getting more revenue than previously.

      I understand and appreciate the point you are making: it all has to get paid for somehow.

  6. Youngone Silver badge


    I'm using Rocky because it has the better logo.

  7. nautica Silver badge

    I'm using Rocky Linux because it has been developed by the person who developed CentOS at its very beginning--2004--and we all know how well that distribution has turned out; what an outstanding, long history it has had (until, of course, a commercial owner got involved).

    I am not using AlmaLinux because it was developed, from its very beginning, by a commercial owner, and we all know how that turns out.

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