Rocky Linux 8.4 has officially arrived. Jack Wallen explains what you need to know about this data center-ready Linux distribution and how to get it.
Sometimes it's hard to believe the speed at which technology evolves. One minute Distribution X is all the rage, the next it has become a pariah and we find myriad forks in the road—each of which can lead to success. In this case, CentOS made a crucial misstep and we find ourselves having more than enough replacements to select from.
That's the way of open source; the second one door closes, a handful of newer, better doors open.
When CentOS opted to become an option many businesses could no longer trust, it came as no surprise when AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux appeared. What did surprise me was that AlmaLinux beat Rocky Linux to the punch. Rocky Linux already had the pedigree of being led by the same gentlemen (Gregory Kurtzer) who originally launched CentOS.
But, remember how Kurtzer led CentOS, as a methodical business-use-case distribution that would release very slowly to avoid the mistakes of "too much too soon?" With his glacially slow model, CentOS was always a rock-solid server distribution.
SEE: 5 Linux server distributions you should be using (TechRepublic Premium)
It should have come as no surprise when Rocky Linux took its time. That time is now, and Rocky Linux 8.4 is officially available for download and installation. You can also now use Rocky Linux as a container image (via Docker Hub or Quay.io) or hosted on a third-party cloud service, such as Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud.
This release—along with AlmaLinux—is built from the very same code found in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.4. This means (and this is important) if it'll work with RHEL, it'll work with Rocky Linux.
I've been testing out Rocky Linux since the beta was made available, and I'm here to tell you it's every bit as impressive as CentOS was. For anyone looking to deploy an RHEL-based distribution in a data center or cloud host, Rocky Linux is an absolutely outstanding choice. For those who've been testing the beta, a quick upgrade will shift it to full release status of 8.4 (Green Obsidian).
How to migrate to Rocky Linux
For those who are currently using CentOS, and are looking for an easy way to migrate to Rocky Linux, you can download and run the migrate2rocky script. One thing you must do is make sure your timezone and time/date are correct, otherwise wget will fail to download the script and the script will fail to run, even when you do get it on your CentOS system. Once you've saved the file, give it executable permissions with the command:
chmod u+x migrate2rocky.sh
Finally, run the script with the command:
sudo ./migrate2rocky.sh -r
Surprisingly enough, the script doesn't take all that long to complete—less than 10 minutes, depending on your hardware and network connection. Once the script finishes, reboot your server and enjoy Rocky Linux.
This caveat won't be an issue for most admins, as the majority of those who deploy in a data center or cloud provider are doing so in a virtual or containerized environment. Should you want to install Rocky Linux on bare metal, know that currently, it cannot work with secure boot. The team behind Rocky Linux describes getting secure boot working on a new distribution as a "non-trivial process." They have made assurances that eventually Rocky Linux will function with secure boot. In the meantime, either deploy Rocky Linux in a virtual/containerized environment or on hardware with secure boot disabled.
On this issue, the team has said:
"We know many of you depend on Secure Boot. It is a non-trivial process to get Secure Boot for a new OS. This process is underway and the shim-review process should begin very soon. Rocky Linux 8.4 will initially be released without Secure Boot support enabled, however, once the proper packages have been built and signed, a second set of ISOs will be released for the Rocky Linux 8.4 with Secure Boot support."
Rocky Linux 8.4 ships with the same features you'd find in RHEL 8.4, such as:
GCC Toolset 10
LLVM Toolset 11.0.0
Rust Toolset 1.49.0
Go Toolset 1.15.7
What are you waiting for?
Unless you're waiting for secure boot to be rolled into Rocky Linux, you now have no reason to hesitate. Download and deploy this 1:1 binary replacement for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, so you can avoid the stream.
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