When Red Hat recently reset the rulebook on how its code could be utilized, it left a swathe of RHEL-clone distributions grappling for ground. At the All Things Open convention, Benny Vasquez, the pivotal chair of the AlmaLinux OS Foundation, elucidated how AlmaLinux is rewriting its blueprint while staying remarkably RHEL-esque.
With Red Hat’s alteration, creating RHEL-like OSs became a labyrinthine affair. In the wake of this, Oracle hurled shade, SUSE signaled forking intentions, and Rocky Linux looked for code diversions. Collectively, they’re moving towards the Open Enterprise Linux source repository. But AlmaLinux? They opted for a different narrative. Instead of locking horns with the tech giant over code rights, AlmaLinux is angling to ensure Application Binary Interface (ABI) compatibility.
But here’s the catch: ensuring compatibility without a 1:1 code match. AlmaLinux’s solution? Tapping into the CentOS Stream source, Red Hat’s open-to-all offering. Interestingly, this forms Red Hat’s RHEL foundation. Combining this with the Red Hat Universal Base Images and upstream Linux code, AlmaLinux is drawing up its new rendition.
For Vasquez, it’s not all just code mirroring. “While 99% packages parallel RHEL, a fraction undergo manual tweaks,” she elucidates. The real challenge? Incorporating Red Hat’s kernel updates without trespassing on licensing terrains. Their workaround involves assimilating patches from diverse sources, and sometimes from Oracle’s updates.
With this newfound autonomy, AlmaLinux boasts a silver lining. Outpacing Red Hat in releasing certain security updates, for instance. However, RHEL compatibility remains the North Star, with any discrepancies seen as “bugs” to be ironed out.
And they’re not stopping at mere replication. AlmaLinux is gearing up to introduce unique features. Think of it as an enhanced RHEL experience with their additional software suite, Synergy. This offers a range of apps that neither RHEL nor EPEL currently provide.
Navigating this path hasn’t been a cakewalk for AlmaLinux. Despite encountering rough patches, particularly with Red Hat’s reactions, they’re continually refining the process. Vasquez candidly expresses potential concerns about any curveballs from Red Hat, but affirms their proactive stance in anticipating and pre-empting such changes.
Peeking into the future, Vasquez shares insights on upcoming AlmaLinux versions, harmoniously timed with RHEL releases. As these new systems unfurl in the weeks ahead, the tech realm will be keenly watching AlmaLinux’s congenial take on RHEL replication.