Rocky Linux releases its RHEL 9 clone and build platform

A bit late, the Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation announced on Thursday the release of Rocky Linux 9, a Linux distribution that is a feature-for-feature clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Rocky Linux 9 is for those who need to run the latest and greatest version of RHEL but don’t want to pay Red Hat for a support subscription.

In addition to x86 and Arm, which Rocky Linux has always supported, the new version adds support for IBM Power and Z systems. The extended support gives distribution parity not only with RHEL but with AlmaLinux, the main competitor from Rocky Linux.

Rocky Linux and Alma seek to fill the void left by CentOS’ demise as a downstream clone of RHEL. For nearly 20 years, CentOS was the de facto RHEL replacement distro, until Red Hat stopped supporting it in this role last year and moved it upstream of RHEL as CentOS Stream.

Others are vying for traction in this space, including Oracle Linux, which is also based on RHEL but with the ability to use Oracle’s own “unbreakable” kernel.

Peridot build system is also released

Along with version 9 of its flagship Linux distribution, the Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation introduced Peridot, a platform developed by CIQ (the company that officially owns Rocky Linux) to create the new Linux version.

“With Rocky version 8, we used Koji, the Fedora build system. But, with version 9, CIQ created a completely cloud-native build stack called Peridot, which we donated to RESF and released to the open source in the world,” Gregory Kurtzer, CEO of CIQ and founder of RESF, said in a statement. “Peridot allows anyone to recreate, build, enhance and manage Rocky Linux like we do.”

According to the folks at Rocky, Peridot will allow new Rocky builds to launch within a week of the release of new RHEL builds. Speed ​​is important considering that AlmaLinux has so far outperformed Rocky in this area. AlmaLinux 9 was released on May 26, just eight days after the release of RHEL 9.

AlmaLinux has created its own build system, ALBS (AlmaLinux Build System), available at the end of June.

What’s inside Rocky Linux 9

Rocky Linux 9 comes with some notable security and networking changes.

In terms of security, the updates include the following:

  • The use of SHA-1 message digest for cryptographic purposes is deprecated, as the cryptographic hash functions produced by SHA-1 are no longer considered secure.
  • OpenSSL is now in version 3.0.1 with many improvements, including the provider concept; new version scheme; an improved HTTP(S) client; support for new protocols, formats and algorithms; and more.
  • OpenSSH is now in version 8.7p1 and offers many improvements, including replacing the SCP/RCP protocol with the SFTP protocol, which provides more predictable filename handling.
  • Rocky Linux 9 significantly improves SELinux performance, memory overhead, and load time.
  • Version 9 supports automatic configuration of compliance settings for PCI-DSS, HIPAA, DISA and others directly through the Anaconda installer.

Rocky Linux 9 networking features include:

  • Mptcpd, or MultiPath TCP Daemon, can be used instead of iproute2 to configure MultiPath TCP endpoints.
  • NetworkManager now uses keyfiles to store new connection profiles by default, but still supports the use of ifcfg.
  • iptables-nft and ipset are now deprecated, which included the utilities, iptables, ip6tables, ebtables, and arptables. These are all replaced by the nftables framework.
  • The network scripts package has been removed. The NetworkManager can be used to configure network connections.

Complete release notes can be found on the Rocky Linux website.

All this and a desk too

Although Rocky Linux is primarily designed for server use, it comes with GNOME 40 as the default desktop environment, with redesigned core applications, settings, and user interface to make it easier to use as an operating system. Office.

Improvements to the desktop experience include the ability to turn off notifications by selecting “Do Not Disturb”. Additionally, each screen can use a different refresh rate and Activity programs allow users to group application icons into folders via drag-and-drop.

Rocky Linux 9 will be supported until May 31, 2032.