Navigating your options for operating system support
By Nicolas Sayer, RING product director, Scality
Are you a CentOS user searching for a suitable replacement to fill the gap left by the discontinuation of the CentOS Linux stable release? You’re not alone.
Red Hat previously announced it would discontinue updates and releases of CentOS Linux between 2021 and 2024, meaning current users would need to pick a migration path. And that left many users of the common Linux distribution scrambling. As of December 2021, CentOS 8 is now only offered as the free CentOS Stream operating system — a rolling release with frequent updates that’s no longer suitable for reliable production workloads.
Like many vendors of our size, we’ve long relied on CentOS — not only did we need to find alternatives for our customers, but we also needed a new plan ourselves. We knew that Red Hat-only alternatives would be cost-prohibitive for some of our customers, so after the pending retirement was announced, we started digging into the different options.
Where to go after CentOS: Comparing options for operating system support
AlmaLinux OS: Described as “an open-source, community-owned and governed, forever-free enterprise Linux distribution, focused on long-term stability, providing a robust production-grade platform.” It’s 1:1 binary-compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 (RHEL) and CentOS (pre-Stream.)
Rocky Linux: Described as “an open-source enterprise operating system designed to be 100% bug-for-bug compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8. It is under intensive development by the community.”
Both are free and, essentially, duplications of RHEL.
Scality’s engineering team puts CentOS alternatives to the test
Because both operating systems proved to be reasonable options after testing, we didn’t have a strong leaning toward either o
Our engineering team spent about nine months evaluating each of these and trying to determine what would work best for our customers — and what would be sustainable for the longer term (at least six years).
Both worked fine under testing. We looked at what other individuals and organizations were doing, especially some of the industry’s biggest names. Amazon and Google are just two of the major companies putting their weight behind Rocky, while Microsoft has been working closely with Alma. In fact, in December 2021, AlmaLinux introduced a purpose-built CentOS alternative for Microsoft Azure. (Azure is also a sponsor of Rocky.)
Which operating system came out on top?
Because both operating systems proved to be reasonable options after testing, we didn’t have a strong leaning toward either one. Within Scality, we were pretty evenly divided — and it turned out, so were many of our customers, who seemed split between the two.
It’s worth mentioning that we didn’t feel like we had enough data to confidently call out a clear winner; not to mention, because these operating systems are both supported by nonprofits or smaller entities, they could face the same fate as CentOS. As always, it’s smart to do your due diligence and weigh the pros and cons to make a decision that’s right for your organization’s unique needs.
Scality supports our customers with choice
So, which way to go? Ultimately, we decided not to decide. We will support all of the options — Rocky and Alma Linux 8, as well as RHEL 8 — for the foreseeable future.
Red Hat brings a lot of benefits to the table (and has the most backing). It remains our recommended OS of choice for customers seeking peace of mind. We also understand the cost eliminates it as an option for everyone and that some of our clients have strong knowledge and experience in directly supporting free and OpenSource OSs in their infrastructure.
We want our customers to have the freedom to choose what works best for them — and the flexibility to switch if desired. At Scality, we’ve got you covered, whatever route you choose.