Discover the three main CentOS clones

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Many companies were using CentOS as a reliable, free, and open source Linux distribution that could power many ecosystems – until IBM Red Hat decided to end CentOS in favor of the candidate version, CentOS Stream. Some administrators and companies had no choice but to abandon CentOS because common software, such as cPanel web hosting software, no longer worked with CentOS Stream.

Fortunately, several open source CentOS clones have appeared, all of which are binarily 1: 1 compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). This means that one of these clones behaves exactly like the original CentOS.

Several distributions of CentOS clones have become popular among Linux administrators. While they all feel and act the same as CentOS, there are subtle differences that can lead some data centers to adopt one over the other. AlmaLinux, Rocky Linux and VzLinux represent the three most popular CentOS clones.

AlmaLinux

CloudLinux released AlmaLinux as the first CentOS clone to hit the market. CloudLinux first established itself as a hosting provider and also created CloudLinux OS, a Linux distribution for shared hosting environments. CloudLinux also created TuxCare, an enterprise level support system for AlmaLinux that keeps AlmaLinux systems up to date and secure for years to come.

Vendors such as AWS, Arm, Open Source Lab, cPanel, Chef, Plesk, and Mattermost support AlmaLinux. Support for CPanel in particular means administrators can install both cPanel and WHM on the system, allowing them to automate a variety of web hosting tasks as they could with CentOS.

CloudLinux offers AlmaLinux as an installable ISO image, but administrators can also convert their existing CentOS 8 distribution to AlmaLinux.

Rocky linux

CentOS creator Gregory Kurtzer created Rocky Linux as another 1: 1 binary compatible RHEL distribution after Red Hat and IBM announced that CentOS would become a continuous release.

Just like AlmaLinux, Rocky Linux behaves like CentOS 8 or RHEL 8 and will remain free, open, collaborative and secure. Providers like 45Drives, OpenDrives, MontaVista, and AWS support Rocky Linux, which means administrators can deploy it to cloud hosted services.

Rocky Linux is a community-backed distro, just like CentOS was at the start. Interested administrators can install Rocky Linux from an ISO image or convert their existing CentOS 8 distributions.

VzLinux

VzLinux has a data center pedigree centered around OpenVZ. OpenVZ started as Virtuozzo, an operating system-level server virtualization platform created by the company of the same name. VzLinux started as a guest OS on the Virtuozzo platform, but has evolved in such a way that it can now run on almost any virtualization system.

At this point, instead of having to depend on OpenVZ to run VzLinux, an administrator can deploy this CentOS-like operating system on bare metal or any number of cloud-based hosts. VzLinux offers some characteristics, such as CentOS conversion simulations, snapshot creation and restore, and unattended mass conversion.

Virtuozzo has announced plans for the future of VzLinux, including new variants of the distribution optimized for containers or virtual machines.

And like AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux, Virtuozzo claims that VzLinux will remain free and open source forever. Administrators can download and install VzLinux from an ISO image.


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