CentOS Replacement Rocky Linux Is Now in GA and Under Independent Control

By Tiffany Trader

June 21, 2021

The Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation (RESF) is announcing the general availability of Rocky Linux, release 8.4, designed as a drop-in replacement for the soon-to-be discontinued CentOS. The GA release is launching six-and-a-half months after Red Hat deprecated its support for the widely popular, free CentOS server operating system.

The Rocky Linux development effort – named as a tribute to late CentOS co-founder Rocky McGaugh – was started by Gregory M. Kurtzer, co-creator of CentOS, and the inventor of Singularity and Warewulf.

Free community support for Rocky Linux is available through the RESF via Mattermost (an open source Slack alternative), IRC and via the Rocky Linux site forums.

Paid commercial support is available through CIQ (previously known as Ctrl IQ), an HPC startup that Kurtzer founded last year that is leveraging Rocky and other tools to build a cloud-native, meta-orchestration platform. Kurtzer is CEO of CIQ as well as founder and executive director of Rocky Linux.

Gregory M. Kurtzer

Kurtzer told HPCwire he was thinking about creating a new version of CentOS ever since Red Hat acquired it in 2014. “And then when IBM acquired it, you know, I was thinking about it even more, and then when [CentOS was canceled], it seemed pretty clear that this needs to happen.”

Indeed, Kurtzer wasted no time. Red Hat announced it was shifting focus from downstream build CentOS to upstream build CentOS Stream on December 8, 2020, and the very next day the Rocky Linux development effort was launched on Github.

The project quickly gained traction. Over 650 contributors joined in less than 24 hours, and the Slack ballooned to about 10,000 people in two months.

“The harder problem to solve here was not building the operating system, it was building the infrastructure to build the operating system,” Kurtzer semi-joked.

He revealed it took four months to get the infrastructure and organization hammered out and about two months to build the operating system.

Rocky Linux bootstraps off of CentOS. It uses the same sources as Red Hat Enterprise Linux, leveraging CentOS Stream.

“We’re feeling extremely confident that we have a very stable, very rock solid operating system,” Kurtzer said.

Independent and Community supported

Originally the plan was to develop Rocky Linux within CIQ, but Kurtzer said very quickly the founders pivoted to making it a true community open source project.

“You guarantee stability in what you’re creating, not controlling it by one company, but by having control of it across many companies,” he said.

Amazon, Google and other major tech vendors – including hardware companies – are backing the project.

“We have AWS, we have Google Cloud, and [other big names] – when’s the last time you heard them all coming to the table to work together on something? Not one of them is going to ever allow this operating system to benefit one more than the other. Right? And that gives it the stability,” said Kurtzer.

While CIQ is the founding services and support partner, Kurtzer acknowledges that others may follow, and the model supports that.

Rocky Linux – designed to be bug-for-bug compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux – fills a gap left by the loss of a stable, free CentOS (CentOS 8 support ends December 31, 2021) and CIQ lowers the barrier to entry, cost-wise, for a supported distro. Additionally, there is no operating system change required to add support for Rocky, unlike the shift from CentOS (or CentOS Stream) to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which while they are very similar is still an operating system change.

“We are going to go much wider in terms of customer base,” Kurtzer said. “And we’ve already gotten validation by a number of organizations, very large enterprise organizations that are looking to do this, and we are talking with hardware vendors as well about teaming up on this.”

Kurtzer said he is confident that the Rocky Linux organization can scale to meet demand post-GA. The biggest demand has already hit, he said. Now they are focused on maintenance and organizing special interest groups (SIGs).

“We’ll be focused on making sure updates happen immediately and making sure we have a good process flow for getting the updates out there,” said Kurtzer.

An HPC-SIG is being formed to address the needs of the high-performance computing community. It will bring in different software, MPI, Slurm, Torque and so forth.

There is discussion about directly integrating OpenHPC. “It should be possible to just have a single package in there that references OpenHPC. So if somebody wanted to install OpenHPC on top of their Rocky system, it should literally only require a couple of commands.”

Kurtzer expects additional SIGs to form that will work on extending Rocky for other verticals, for example EDA and hyperscale. The functionality would be optional on top of the bug-for-bug compatible version; it would not be enabled by default.

While it’s not possible to know exactly how many people have downloaded or are using Rocky Linux since there are a dozen mirror sites, RESF estimates that the Rocky Linux beta has been used and downloaded and installed a quarter of million times, roughly extrapolating from the 100,000 downloads from the tier zero mirror.

The 8.4 GA release supports x86_64 and the ARM64 (aarch64) architectures and can be downloaded at https://rockylinux.org/download. RESF intends to support Rocky Linux 8 through June 2031.

Related coverage: Red Hat’s Disruption of CentOS Unleashes Storm of Dissent

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industry updates delivered to you every week!

AI Saves the Planet this Earth Day

April 22, 2024

Earth Day was originally conceived as a day of reflection. Our planet’s life-sustaining properties are unlike any other celestial body that we’ve observed, and this day of contemplation is meant to provide all of us Read more…

Intel Announces Hala Point – World’s Largest Neuromorphic System for Sustainable AI

April 22, 2024

As we find ourselves on the brink of a technological revolution, the need for efficient and sustainable computing solutions has never been more critical.  A computer system that can mimic the way humans process and s Read more…

Empowering High-Performance Computing for Artificial Intelligence

April 19, 2024

Artificial intelligence (AI) presents some of the most challenging demands in information technology, especially concerning computing power and data movement. As a result of these challenges, high-performance computing Read more…

Kathy Yelick on Post-Exascale Challenges

April 18, 2024

With the exascale era underway, the HPC community is already turning its attention to zettascale computing, the next of the 1,000-fold performance leaps that have occurred about once a decade. With this in mind, the ISC Read more…

2024 Winter Classic: Texas Two Step

April 18, 2024

Texas Tech University. Their middle name is ‘tech’, so it’s no surprise that they’ve been fielding not one, but two teams in the last three Winter Classic cluster competitions. Their teams, dubbed Matador and Red Read more…

2024 Winter Classic: The Return of Team Fayetteville

April 18, 2024

Hailing from Fayetteville, NC, Fayetteville State University stayed under the radar in their first Winter Classic competition in 2022. Solid students for sure, but not a lot of HPC experience. All good. They didn’t Read more…

AI Saves the Planet this Earth Day

April 22, 2024

Earth Day was originally conceived as a day of reflection. Our planet’s life-sustaining properties are unlike any other celestial body that we’ve observed, Read more…

Kathy Yelick on Post-Exascale Challenges

April 18, 2024

With the exascale era underway, the HPC community is already turning its attention to zettascale computing, the next of the 1,000-fold performance leaps that ha Read more…

Software Specialist Horizon Quantum to Build First-of-a-Kind Hardware Testbed

April 18, 2024

Horizon Quantum Computing, a Singapore-based quantum software start-up, announced today it would build its own testbed of quantum computers, starting with use o Read more…

MLCommons Launches New AI Safety Benchmark Initiative

April 16, 2024

MLCommons, organizer of the popular MLPerf benchmarking exercises (training and inference), is starting a new effort to benchmark AI Safety, one of the most pre Read more…

Exciting Updates From Stanford HAI’s Seventh Annual AI Index Report

April 15, 2024

As the AI revolution marches on, it is vital to continually reassess how this technology is reshaping our world. To that end, researchers at Stanford’s Instit Read more…

Intel’s Vision Advantage: Chips Are Available Off-the-Shelf

April 11, 2024

The chip market is facing a crisis: chip development is now concentrated in the hands of the few. A confluence of events this week reminded us how few chips Read more…

The VC View: Quantonation’s Deep Dive into Funding Quantum Start-ups

April 11, 2024

Yesterday Quantonation — which promotes itself as a one-of-a-kind venture capital (VC) company specializing in quantum science and deep physics  — announce Read more…

Nvidia’s GTC Is the New Intel IDF

April 9, 2024

After many years, Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC) was back in person and has become the conference for those who care about semiconductors and AI. I Read more…

Nvidia H100: Are 550,000 GPUs Enough for This Year?

August 17, 2023

The GPU Squeeze continues to place a premium on Nvidia H100 GPUs. In a recent Financial Times article, Nvidia reports that it expects to ship 550,000 of its lat Read more…

Synopsys Eats Ansys: Does HPC Get Indigestion?

February 8, 2024

Recently, it was announced that Synopsys is buying HPC tool developer Ansys. Started in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1970 as Swanson Analysis Systems, Inc. (SASI) by John Swanson (and eventually renamed), Ansys serves the CAE (Computer Aided Engineering)/multiphysics engineering simulation market. Read more…

Intel’s Server and PC Chip Development Will Blur After 2025

January 15, 2024

Intel's dealing with much more than chip rivals breathing down its neck; it is simultaneously integrating a bevy of new technologies such as chiplets, artificia Read more…

Choosing the Right GPU for LLM Inference and Training

December 11, 2023

Accelerating the training and inference processes of deep learning models is crucial for unleashing their true potential and NVIDIA GPUs have emerged as a game- Read more…

Baidu Exits Quantum, Closely Following Alibaba’s Earlier Move

January 5, 2024

Reuters reported this week that Baidu, China’s giant e-commerce and services provider, is exiting the quantum computing development arena. Reuters reported � Read more…

Comparing NVIDIA A100 and NVIDIA L40S: Which GPU is Ideal for AI and Graphics-Intensive Workloads?

October 30, 2023

With long lead times for the NVIDIA H100 and A100 GPUs, many organizations are looking at the new NVIDIA L40S GPU, which it’s a new GPU optimized for AI and g Read more…

Shutterstock 1179408610

Google Addresses the Mysteries of Its Hypercomputer 

December 28, 2023

When Google launched its Hypercomputer earlier this month (December 2023), the first reaction was, "Say what?" It turns out that the Hypercomputer is Google's t Read more…


How AMD May Get Across the CUDA Moat

October 5, 2023

When discussing GenAI, the term "GPU" almost always enters the conversation and the topic often moves toward performance and access. Interestingly, the word "GPU" is assumed to mean "Nvidia" products. (As an aside, the popular Nvidia hardware used in GenAI are not technically... Read more…

Leading Solution Providers


Shutterstock 1606064203

Meta’s Zuckerberg Puts Its AI Future in the Hands of 600,000 GPUs

January 25, 2024

In under two minutes, Meta's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, laid out the company's AI plans, which included a plan to build an artificial intelligence system with the eq Read more…

China Is All In on a RISC-V Future

January 8, 2024

The state of RISC-V in China was discussed in a recent report released by the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. The report, entitled "E Read more…

Shutterstock 1285747942

AMD’s Horsepower-packed MI300X GPU Beats Nvidia’s Upcoming H200

December 7, 2023

AMD and Nvidia are locked in an AI performance battle – much like the gaming GPU performance clash the companies have waged for decades. AMD has claimed it Read more…

Nvidia’s New Blackwell GPU Can Train AI Models with Trillions of Parameters

March 18, 2024

Nvidia's latest and fastest GPU, codenamed Blackwell, is here and will underpin the company's AI plans this year. The chip offers performance improvements from Read more…

Eyes on the Quantum Prize – D-Wave Says its Time is Now

January 30, 2024

Early quantum computing pioneer D-Wave again asserted – that at least for D-Wave – the commercial quantum era has begun. Speaking at its first in-person Ana Read more…

GenAI Having Major Impact on Data Culture, Survey Says

February 21, 2024

While 2023 was the year of GenAI, the adoption rates for GenAI did not match expectations. Most organizations are continuing to invest in GenAI but are yet to Read more…

The GenAI Datacenter Squeeze Is Here

February 1, 2024

The immediate effect of the GenAI GPU Squeeze was to reduce availability, either direct purchase or cloud access, increase cost, and push demand through the roof. A secondary issue has been developing over the last several years. Even though your organization secured several racks... Read more…

Intel’s Xeon General Manager Talks about Server Chips 

January 2, 2024

Intel is talking data-center growth and is done digging graves for its dead enterprise products, including GPUs, storage, and networking products, which fell to Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow