AlmaLinux vs. CentOS Comparison: Is AlmaLinux Up to the Challenge?

With the announcement from Red Hat that they’re choosing to sunset CentOS and focus on CentOS Stream, many users have been wondering what’s next. The community was able to step in and take over the CentOS legacy in the form of AlmaLinux. Still, this has left many users wondering if AlmaLinux is up to the task. Here we discuss AlmaLinux and CentOS and whether AlmaLinux is up to the challenge of replacing CentOS.

Also read: Differences Between RHEL, CentOS and Fedora

What Is AlmaLinux?

AlmaLinux is a 1:1 binary fork of RHEL, just like CentOS. This means everything that is available for CentOS is available for AlmaLinux – all the same packages, all the same configurations, everything. There are 4,000 companies that use CloudLinux, the paid-support version of AlmaLinux, meaning there’s plenty of work that’s already gone into it.

Almalinux First Boot
Almalinux Anaconda Configured
Almalinux Openssh Versions
Almalinux Centos Openssh Versions

How Is AlmaLinux different from CentOS?

It’s not owned by Red Hat. Otherwise, AlmaLinux is the same 1:1 binary equivalent to RHEL that CentOS is, so the only difference is where the money comes from. AlmaLinux is supported by CloudLinux, Inc., which means Red Hat doesn’t own it. CloudLinux has been around for 10 years, so they know what they’re doing in making a completely free RHEL fork. They’ve made a paid version for a decade.

How Do I Get Started with AlmaLinux?

All you have to do is download the ISO from the downloads page and install it like you would CentOS. The installation experience is absolutely the same, so our guide on installing CentOS and navigating the Anaconda installer still works like a charm.

If you already have servers or workstations running CentOS and want to change to AlmaLinux, that’s also extremely simple. Seeing as they’re both 1:1 equivalents, it’s relatively simple to transition from CentOS to AlmaLinux.

To do so, all you have to do is use the curl command to pull the code for the almalinux-deploy code from the AlmaLinux GitHub repository and run the script. All it changes is the repositories. I’d recommend updating everything before and after just to make sure it works.

A couple of notes on that process:

  1. Make a backup of your system, or at least any important data or configs you want to keep.
  2. Disable Secure Boot on your system, as AlmaLinux doesn’t support it.

Otherwise, you should be able to run the following commands to upgrade:

curl -O
Almalinux Curl
sudo bash
Almalinux Script
Almalinux Script Running

You should check your release and that the system boots the AlmaLinux kernel by default.

Almalinux Confirmed Upgrade

If everything completes successfully, you should be good to go to continue using your system as normal. I’d recommend going one system at a time to make sure nothing goes wrong, but you should be able to update your whole fleet of servers or workstations without a hitch.

There’s nothing to be concerned about with upgrading your CentOS systems to AlmaLinux. It’s the exact same as CentOS, but the difference is that it’s going to be around for a long time. (The project has committed to at least 2029.)

If you have planned to switch to AlmaLinux, don't forget to check out how to install CentOS on Raspberry Pi and install KDE Plasma on CentOS.

John Perkins

John is a young technical professional with a passion for educating users on the best ways to use their technology. He holds technical certifications covering topics ranging from computer hardware to cybersecurity to Linux system administration.

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