Back in 2019, Redhat had announced that they will be changing their sponsorship for CentOS Linux distribution from December 2021. CentOS Stream would be an upstream development platform designed for CentOS community members.
Rocky Linux is a community enterprise operating system led by Gregory Kurtzer, founder of the CentOS project after RedHat decided to switch to CentOS Stream. One reason it is also called the unofficial successor to the CentOS Project.
Rocky Linux continues to keep the original charm of CentOS to be the stable downstream build of Redhat. It is taken as a drop-in replacement of CentOS being a 100% bug-for-bug fork.
What does Rocky Linux mean to the CentOS users?
It means that you can continue to expect the same stable Enterprise Linux build that one would be used to while using CentOS, on Rocky Linux as well, since it continues to be the downstream build of Redhat. It means that Rocky Linux will continue to follow the RedHat release cycle and release after a stable release of Redhat.
AlmaLinux, like Rocky Linux, is also a community enterprise operating system led by CloudLinux. CloudLinux has been in the Linux distribution, by the same name, offers a commercial linux distribution targeted towards the web hosting industry.
When Redhat announced the change in the sponsorship of the CentOS Project from being downstream to upstream CentOS Stream project, AlmaLinux was the first one to come up with a replacement for CentOS.
What does AlmaLinux mean to the CentOS users?
AlmaLinux is also a drop-in replacement for CentOS and unlike its parent company’s CloudLinux, it will continue to remain a free and open source Linux distribution.
The choice of whether you would go for CentOS Stream or Rocky Linux or AlmaLinux depends on what is your use case?
If you love having bleading edge features of a new enterprise operating system, which still have been tested more than a Fedora Linux and don’t mind getting operating system updates more often. Then CentOS Stream would be a good choice.
If you rather have a stable, well tested operating system with specific timelines of the releases/updates, then Rocky Linux or AlmaLinux should be the way to go.
Amongst Rocky Linux or AlmaLinux, as of today, there truely is hardly any difference, while not ruling out how far they end up differing as the time passes and newer releases of enterprise linux get released.
Both come with the backings of past experience. While Rockly Linux is from the very people who founded and led the CentOS Project, AlmaLinux is from the company who was able to see the features that were missing in the whole of Redhat, Fedora, CentOS environment, specifically from the web hosting industry stand point and actually build them up as part of their CloudLinux commercial offering.