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CentOS replacement distro AlmaLinux gets commercial support options

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Today, CloudLinux Inc announced that it will offer commercial support for the AlmaLinux community distribution. The new support plans will be available next week and will include regular patches and updates for AlmaLinux’s kernel and core packages, patch delivery SLAs, and 24/7 incident support.

What’s AlmaLinux?

AlmaLinux is one of several Linux distributions jostling for position as “the new CentOS” in the wake of Red Hat’s December 2020 deprecation of its own free-as-in-beer Red Hat Enterprise Linux clone distribution.

AlmaLinux was initially sponsored by CloudLinux Inc. and is based on its own CloudLinux commercial distribution—but the company specifically set up the new distribution to be community owned and governed. Its qualifications as “the new CentOS” come from its base on the source code of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

RHEL is “free as in freedom”—meaning that its source code is available and can be forked by other projects, such as CloudLinux itself and now AlmaLinux—but is not necessarily “free as in beer,” meaning that many individuals and projects need to pay to acquire and use RHEL itself. In an expanding set of cases, certain developers and projects may use RHEL freely or semi-freely—but there’s still a degree of hassle, red tape, and paperwork involved, even where free use of RHEL is allowed.

CentOS Linux’s claim to fame was that it could be freely, arbitrarily downloaded and used for any purpose by anyone—and it was binary-compatible with RHEL, meaning that applications and projects designed specifically for RHEL and only RHEL could still be expected to work with CentOS. This is the vacated niche that AlmaLinux aims to fill now.

The AlmaLinux distribution offers a 10-year support cycle—like its upstream distribution RHEL—which is also important to organizations and individuals in the market for RHEL-compatible distributions. AlmaLinux’s first stable release, codenamed “Purple Manul,” launched on March 30.

What support is CloudLinux Inc. offering?

Enlarge / On first boot after an AlmaLinux installation, the user is required to accept a very short and sweet EULA—one that underscores the potential value of CloudLinux’s paid commercial support offering.

Jim Salter

Several of the AlmaLinux support services being offered by CloudLinux Inc. are, technically speaking, already offered by the community distribution itself—for example, “regular patches and updates for the Linux kernel and core packages.”

However, the AlmaLinux project is a community project, not a corporation. Although the community provides these services de facto, it does not offer commercial contracts that guarantee the timely delivery or quality of those services with financial penalties for non-compliance.

CloudLinux, by contrast, is offering to accept money in exchange for these services on a commercially guaranteed basis—and it’s in an excellent position to do so, since its own CloudLinux RHEL “clone” is the immediate upstream distribution of AlmaLinux and because the company already provides similar services for CloudLinux itself.

In addition to timely delivery of patches and updates, CloudLinux Inc. is offering service-level agreements for patch delivery and 24/7 incident support. It also plans to introduce a “premium support tier for enterprises” that need expanded service and support, including but not limited to NodeOS support for AlmaLinux.

Listing image by Jim Salter

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