Rocky Linux is meant as the replacement for CentOS.
- Binary compatible with RHEL
- Bug-for-bug compatible with RHEL
- Created by the founder of CentOS ( Gregory Kurtzer )
- Enterprise OS that is “Production Grade”
- Named after CentOS co-founder Rocky McGaugh
Rocky OS is an excellent choice as a server OS or even as a workstation OS. It is intended as a drop in replacement for RHEL which is basically what CentOS used to be.
CentOS and Red Hat History
Originally, there was a free distro called Red Hat Linux. After existing for a while and becoming popular, they created RHEL ( Red Hat Enterprise Linux ) which would not be free. Red Hat also created Fedora which is 100% free but uses more cutting edge / unstable packages that would eventually make their way into RHEL.
RHEL is based on open source projects ( especially the Linux kernel ). Due to the licensing on these projects the code for derivative works is required to be provided for free. Binaries can still be sold though.
Since the source code for RHEL was made freely available it was used to compile the binaries for a new Linux distribution called CentOS. The new system, CentOS basically included everything that RHEL did except for the logos which were copyrighted. This resulted in a binary compatible clone of RHEL which could be expected to be completely compatible. It would have the exact same bugs and fixes.
CentOS eventually joined Red Hat which then sponsored the CentOS project ( 2014 ). Red Hat eventually discontinued the CentOS project ( at least in the originally intended form ). It was transitioned from being downstream / compatible to being upstream and mostly being used for testing. This basically defeats the purpose of the distro and makes it useless. It is no longer 100% compatible.
CentOS 8 support is set to end Dec 31, 2021 instead of Dec 31, 2029. Having cut support off sooner than originally scheduled has made this a much less viable project and has forced people to start thinking about migrating sooner.
- CentOS has switched from being downstream from RHEL to being upstream. ( less stable, no longer 100% compatible )
Rocky Linux FAQ
Is Rocky Linux the new CentOS? Yes, it basically is.
Will Rocky Linux replace CentOS?
Yes, it serves the same purpose that CentOS was intended to serve before being “decommissioned”.
Should I use CentOS?
Yes, if you want something RHEL compatible and don’t want a RHEL license or support.
Is Rocky Linux dead?
No, that’s silly. It is brand new and just getting started.
What is Rocky Linux based on?
Rocky Linux is based on RHEL or Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It is basically a clone built from the same source.
Does Rocky Linux have a GUI?
Yes, you can run a desktop GUI just like you would on any other Linux distro.
Is Rocky Linux a rolling release?
No, Rocky Linux is based on the fixed releases from Red Hat. This makes it more stable and predictable.
RHEL / CentOS / Rocky - Release Table
|RHEL 8||CentOS 8||Rocky Linux 8|
|RHEL 7||CentOS 7|
|RHEL 6||CentOS 6|
|RHEL 5||CentOS 5|
|RHEL 4||CentOS 4|
|RHEL 3||CentOS 3|
|RHEL 2||CentOS 2|
DISCLAIMER - This is all based on my understanding of the situation. I’m not a lawyer and don’t understand licenses. Anything written here may or may not be 100% accurate.