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AlmaLinux Can Now Drive Power Processors

CentOS replacement AlmaLinux on Friday released a new ISO for a version of it’s operating system that supports IBM’s open source Power processor.

On Friday, AlmaLinux released a new ISO.

If you’re already running AlmaLinux 8.5 on x86 or Arm machines, this doesn’t affect you. You’re still running the distribution’s latest and greatest, and will be until the next minor point upgrade to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (don’t worry, we at FOSS Force will keep you informed). But if you’re still running CentOS (or something else) on your PowerPC or IBM Power Systems boxes because there’s no CentOS replacement for the Power architecture, you can now switch them to AlmaLinux.

This should be good news for organizations that were running CentOS on both architectures when Red Hat brought CentOS 8 to an early end of life at the end of 2021.

If you don’t know, CentOS had served as a drop-in replacement for Red Hat Enterprise Linux since 2004, and was useful for enterprises because they could use it without purchasing support contracts to augment their licensed RHEL servers. Most were caught by surprise with no plan B when Red Hat unceremoniously pulled the rug from underneath the distro and moved it from downstream to upstream of RHEL, where it now serves as what some Red Hat employees have called RHEL’s “nightly build” under the name CentOS Stream.

AlmaLinux, as well as Rocky Linux, were formed in the wake of Red Hat’s move in order to fill the void created by CentOS’s demise. Both distributions are essentially clones of RHEL, making them good fits in any environment running workloads optimized for Red Hat servers. Both are also community led and operated, although it appears that Rocky Linux is legally owned by a single person, which could conceivably be an issue down the road. AlmaLinux has taken steps to establish community ownership.

Rocky Linux currently doesn’t support the Power architecture. In the past it has said on social sites that support for architectures other than x86 and Arm might be a possibility in the future, but indicated that wasn’t something they are actively pursuing.

As for AlmaLinux, project managers say their developers are working to eventually support all architectures and workloads supported by RHEL — which indicates we might eventually see a port to IBM Z, although I wouldn’t hold my breath while waiting for that to happen.

“The AlmaLinux community is working tirelessly to deliver parity with RHEL and CentOS at all levels, providing former CentOS users with the obvious choice for a production-ready, drop-in replacement,” Jack Aboutboul, community manager for AlmaLinux, said in a statement.

“This includes ensuring the most popular architectures and hardware are supported and well tested,” he added. “We’re looking beyond just the base operating system, in providing containers and cloud images as well, since those are of extreme importance and utility to our users. We’re currently working to deliver support for S/390 as well for eventual full parity with RHEL. The community shouldn’t settle for anything less.”

The project said in its announcement that the Power port was driven by community members, with support from project partners, including infrastructure support from the Oregon State University Open Source Lab and testing from researchers at CERN.

“We’re glad to empower the AlmaLinux community with access to Power architecture for development and testing via our relationship with IBM,” Lance Albertson, the director of Oregon State’s Open Source Lab, said in a statement. “We strive to provide an on-ramp to a variety of architectures for FOSS projects, including Power and ARM64.”

The new Power port includes binary and source RPMs, container images, as well as cloud images, and can be downloaded here.

Aboutboul told FOSS Force that from his viewpoint, AlamaLinux’s efforts to support the Power architecture are “about partnership and collaboration with the wider open source community, which is something we have been stressing since day one.”

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