Many companies used CentOS as a reliable, free, and open source Linux distribution that could support many ecosystems – until IBM Red Hat decided to end CentOS in favor of the rolling release candidate CentOS Stream. Some administrators and companies had no choice but to ditch CentOS as popular software like cPanel web hosting software no longer worked with CentOS Stream.
Fortunately, several open source clones of CentOS have emerged, all of which are 1: 1 binary compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). This means that each of these clones will behave just like the original CentOS.
Several CentOS clone distributions have become popular with Linux administrators. While they all feel and act similarly to CentOS, subtle differences can lead to certain data centers taking over one over another. AlmaLinux, Rocky Linux and VzLinux represent the three most popular CentOS clones.
CloudLinux launched AlmaLinux as the first CentOS clone. CloudLinux first made a name for itself as a hosting provider and also created CloudLinux OS, a Linux distribution for shared hosting environments. CloudLinux has also developed TuxCare, an enterprise-class support system for AlmaLinux that keeps AlmaLinux systems up-to-date and secure for years to come.
Providers such as AWS, Arm, Open Source Lab, cPanel, Chef, Plesk and Mattermost support AlmaLinux. In particular, the support of CPanel means that administrators can install both cPanel and WHM on the system, which allows them to automate a variety of web hosting tasks like with CentOS.
CloudLinux offers AlmaLinux as an installable ISO image, but administrators can also convert their existing CentOS 8 distribution to AlmaLinux.
CentOS creator Gregory Kurtzer developed Rocky Linux as another 1: 1 binary compatible RHEL distribution after Red Hat and IBM announced that CentOS would be a rolling release.
Just like AlmaLinux, Rocky Linux behaves like CentOS 8 or RHEL 8 and remains free, open, collaborative and secure. Providers like 45Drives, OpenDrives, MontaVista, and AWS support Rocky Linux, which means administrators can deploy it on cloud-hosted services.
Rocky Linux is a community supported distribution, just like CentOS was in the beginning. Interested admins can install Rocky Linux from an ISO image or convert their existing CentOS 8 distributions.
VzLinux has a data center tree that revolves around OpenVZ. OpenVZ began as Virtuozzo, an operating system level server virtualization platform developed by the company of the same name. VzLinux started out as a guest operating system on the Virtuozzo platform, but evolved so that it can now run on almost any virtualization system.
At this point, instead of relying 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 unique features such as trial runs for CentOS conversion, snapshot creation and rollback, and unattended bulk conversion.
Virtuozzo has announced plans for the future of VzLinux, including new optimized variations of the distribution for containers or virtual machines.
And like AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux, Virtuozzo claims that VzLinux will stay free and open source forever. Administrators can download and install VzLinux from an ISO image.