Free CentOS Alternatives

6 CentOS Alternatives

CentOS 8 is no longer supported as of December 2021. Those using Linux cloud servers may have already switched to Debian or Ubuntu to get ahead of the change. But what about those who need a free Red Hat-based distribution for essential software or just prefer YUM? Here are six CentOS alternatives that may fill that hole.

When the CentOS End of Life (EOL) story first surfaced, there were Linux distros that got most of the attention regarding what could be the best CentOS replacement. But that wasn’t without good reason.

AlmaLinux

AlmaLinux logo

AlmaLinux is a binary compatible fork developed by CloudLinux. Its first stable release was published in March 2021. cPanel and Control Web Panel (CWP), formerly known as CentOS Web Panel, were both once exclusively available for CentOS. They now fully support AlmaLinux. This may partially be due to CloudLinux’s reputation among the Linux web hosting community.

“Alma” translates to “soul” in spanish. Having cPanel support may make the distro the soul of the web hosting community.

Right now, AlmaLinux looks to be the best CentOS alternative for those who just want to replace CentOS and continue their mission.

CentOS Stream

CentOS Stream is Red Hat’s upstream project between Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). The goals of this project:

  • Ease the implementation process of new developments from Fedora into RHEL
  • Transition former CentOS users to RHEL

CentOS Stream isn’t often marketed as a permanent solution for former CentOS Linux distro users. But it could be that for those who want to be as close to RHEL as possible without the price tag.

Rocky Linux

Rocky Linux logo

Rocky Linux is a new Linux operating system (OS) with its first stable release published in June 2021. Rocky Linux is headed by original CentOS co-founder Gregory Kurtzer and named after another original CentOS co-founder, Rocky McGaugh.

This project is backed by Amazon, Google, and other major corporations.

For now, answering the “AlmaLinux vs Rocky Linux” debate is purely based on your needs. Do you need to host cPanel or other software that previously required CentOS? Are you looking for a RHEL development environment? How often do you expect each OS to be under active development? Both have bare OS and workstation images available. Only time will tell how this comparison evolves in the near future.

Other CentOS Replacements

The following CentOS alternatives are listed in order of most popular to least in accordance with DistroWatch.com at the time of writing.

EuroLinux

EuroLinux is a rarely discussed distro developed by the Polish company of the same name. The team also develops control panels for PostgreSQL, Java applications, and the Linux server OS. The company has little social media activity.

Oracle Linux

Oracle Linux has been around for fifteen years now. The company has been around decades longer with MySQL being one of its most popular products. Although there’s a love-hate relationship between many in the open source community and the Oracle company, Oracle Linux is undoubtedly a high-performance, stable Red Hat Linux alternative.

ClearOS

ClearOS has had a slightly different target audience from the rest of this list since 2001. Instead of focusing on web server environments, ClearOS is an internal network server for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB). If your startup business office needs a fully-featured OS to replace Windows Server, this might interest you.

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Thoughts on “Free CentOS Alternatives

  • I have made three attempts now to upgrade from CentOS 7 to CentOS stream 8. All three have failed with dependency errors that required me to install CentOS 7. Which is why I’m going to try Rocky, and then Alma.

    • Hello Glenn – Sorry to hear about the issues with upgrading from CentOS 7 to CentOS 8. I’ve gone through several message boards on the topic, and all of them show issues with the upgrade regardless of the instructions. Several people have posted that it’s simply better to install CentOS 8 fresh. However, if you’re going to be installing an alternative, then it may be a less troublesome solution. Let us know if you were successful and if it’s a good alternative to CentOS.

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