AlmaLinux, the Linux distribution conceived as a CentOS replacement, on Wednesday released AlmaLinux 8.4. This release, based on last week’s just-released version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, comes about a month after the release of AlmaLinux 8.3, which was the distribution's first stable release.
The distribution was conceived in December after Red Hat announced that CentOS Linux, a popular downstream copy of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), is being replaced by CentOS Stream. Support for CentOS 8 is slated to be discontinued at the end of this year, while support for CentOS 7 will continue through June 30, 2024, its originally scheduled end of life.
Rocky Linux, another Linux distribution that's intended to be a CentOS replacement, is expected to have a stable release ready by the middle of June.
The eight-day turnaround between the availability of RHEL 8.4 and this release tracks with how CloudLinux, the company behind AlmaLinux, earns its keep: By producing a hardened version of RHEL for its enterprise customers. It is notable, however, considering that four months passed between the release of RHEL 8 and CentOS 8 in 2019.
"The quick turn on AlmaLinux's latest 8.4 release is the result of a collaborative effort by a professional, seasoned team that includes people with experience doing this for a decade," Jack Aboutboul, AlmaLinux's community manager, told ITPro Today in an email. "The team is dedicated to this open source initiative and was fully prepared. They started planning and working with the beta of RHEL 8.4, and executed very well."
Of the new features found in AlmaLinux 8.4, its full support for Secure Boot is especially noteworthy. Support for Secure Boot requires input from Microsoft, which acts as Secure Boot's Certification Authority (meaning they have to sign programs for them to run), and the code has to be audited for safety. Evidently, the AlmaLinux community made acquiring Secure Boot support a priority.
"We knew that Secure Boot was important for supporting enterprise, real-world workloads in the data center with proper security and assuring that booting is as expected," Aboutboul said.
Also added to AlmaLinux 8.4 is support for OpenSCAP security profiles and a developer repository with packages and build dependencies not included in upstream distribution.
As of Friday, May 28, a beta release of AlmaLinux 8.4 for the ARM architecture is available. An increasing number of bare metal clouds are offering servers running ARM processors at a premium over x86 machines.
"Today, we released the beta for servers running ARM processors, which is the result of collaborative work among the AlmaLinux community, ARM, Equinix, AWS, and Oregon State Open Source Lab," Aboutboul said. "Our planned schedule is for GA in June – how soon, of course, depends on how the beta goes."