The Rocky Linux 8.5 distribution has been released , aimed at creating a free build of RHEL that can take the place of classic CentOS, after the Red Hat company decided to end support for the CentOS 8 branch at the end of 2021, and not in 2029, as originally intended. This is the second stable release of the project, recognized as ready for production deployments. Rocky Linux builds are prepared for x86_64 and aarch64 architectures.
As in the classical CentOS made to the Rocky Linux packages changes boil down to get rid of binding to the brand Red Hat. The distribution is fully binary compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.5 and includes all the improvements proposed in this release . This includes additional packages for OpenJDK 17, Ruby 3.0, nginx 1.20, Node.js 16, PHP 7.4.19, GCC Toolset 11, LLVM Toolset 12.0.1, Rust Toolset 1.54.0, and Go Toolset 1.16.7.
Changes specific to Rocky Linux include the addition of a PGP-enabled Thunderbird mail client package and an openldap-servers package to the pluse repository. The “rasperrypi2” Linux kernel package has been added to the rockypi repository, including improvements to work on Aarch64 based Rasperry Pi boards.
For x86_64 systems, official support for booting in UEFI Secure Boot mode is provided (the shim layer used when booting Rocky Linux is certified with a Microsoft key). For the aarch64 architecture, the ability to verify the integrity of the bootable system by digital signature will be implemented later.
The project is being developed under the leadership of Gregory Kurtzer, founder of CentOS. In parallel, for the development of advanced products based on Rocky Linux and support of the community of developers of this distribution, a commercial company Ctrl IQ was created, which received $ 4 million in investment. The Rocky Linux distribution itself is promised to be developed independently of the Ctrl IQ company under the control of the community. Companies such as Google, Amazon Web Services, GitLab, MontaVista, 45Drives, OpenDrives and NAVER Cloud have also joined the development and funding of the project.
In addition to Rocky Linux, AlmaLinux (developed by CloudLinux, together with the community), VzLinux (prepared by Virtuozzo) and Oracle Linux are also positioned as alternatives to the old CentOS . In turn, Red Hat has made RHEL available for free in open source organizations and in individual developer environments with up to 16 virtual or physical systems.