Rocky Linux vs CentOS

Published December 20, 2023

The advent of Rocky Linux, a nascent operating system, has gracefully ascended to the pinnacle of acclaim as an opulent and unshackled alternative to CentOS. Rooted in the esteemed RHEL source code, it bestows upon users an unwavering, dependable, and impervious platform for enterprise applications.

Since its inception, Rocky Linux has been heralded as an unrivaled substitute for CentOS, which, regrettably, was forsaken by Red Hat’s official support in 2020.

With an unwavering dedication to stability, performance, and assistance, Rocky Linux endeavors to endow its users with a lavish and user-friendly encounter, replete with a plethora of cutting-edge features, catering to the needs of both individual users and businesses.

However, before embarking on a profound exploration of this novel Linux iteration and the ensuing Rocky Linux versus CentOS discourse, we have an extraordinary proposition awaiting your indulgence.

Rocky Linux

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What is Rocky Linux?

Rocky Linux is a free and open-source enterprise-level operating system distribution that was created as an alternative to CentOS following the announcement of changes in CentOS development process by Red Hat.

Here are some of the pros and cons of Rocky Linux:

It’s designed to be a drop-in replacement for CentOS, which was very popular.

So if you’re familiar with CentOS, Rocky Linux will feel familiar.

  • It’s focused on stability and enterprise features. So it could be good for servers.
  • It has backing from the original CentOS founder, Gregory Kurtzer. So there is expertise behind it.
  • The future is still uncertain, as with any new open source project. There is a chance it may not gain enough momentum.
  • It is focused on enterprise features, so may lack some flexibility for desktop use or newer technology previews.

What is CentOS?

CentOS, a free and open-source enterprise-level operating system distribution, derives its foundation from the source code of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). The open-source community highly values CentOS for its stability and security, drawing on the rigorous testing and development associated with RHEL, renowned for its enterprise-grade reliability and support.

System administrators and developers favor CentOS due to its user-friendly nature and expansive repository of software packages.

Rocky, The latest stable CentOS release!

A community-driven enterprise Linux distribution, CentOS utilizes the source code of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) while being freely available as open-source software, eliminating the need for licensing fees. Embraced by organizations globally, CentOS is employed in various environments, including private and public clouds such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Although the latest stable version, CentOS 6, debuted in 2010 with no subsequent updates, it remains valuable for infrastructures relying on older applications compatible with this particular operating system version.

Rocky Linux vs CentOS

In this section of the Rocky Linux vs CentOS article, we explore the distinctions!

CentOS and Rocky Linux, both stemming from the source code of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), strive for 100% bug-for-bug compatibility with RHEL. However, differences exist between the two.

Here, we compare the two operating systems, shedding light on their significant similarities and differences.

The Creator of two OS

Gregory Kurtzer co-founded the Caos Linux project, which eventually became the CentOS Project in collaboration with Rocky McGough. Their goal was to create a community-managed distribution of RPM-based Linux, similar to Debian for dpkg. However, after Red Hat’s decision to discontinue CentOS, Kurtzer announced the development of Rocky Linux, a RHEL fork with a similar goal to CentOS. The name Rocky Linux is a tribute to the late co-founder of CentOS, Rocky McGough.


Built upon RHEL and compatible with the Red Hat Enterprise binary code, Rocky Linux and CentOS ensure stability and high performance. While they slightly differ in the supported architecture, both distributions prioritize key RHEL features. Therefore, the architectural comparison between CentOS and Rocky Linux remains highly similar.


CentOS 7 and 8 mark the conclusive releases of CentOS Linux, ceasing updates and support. While CentOS 7 will continue to receive maintenance updates until its end-of-life on June 30, 2024, official support for CentOS has already concluded, urging users to explore alternatives. Although CentOS Stream still receives updates, it may not be suitable for production-ready use.

Contrastingly, CIQ, the official company behind Rocky Linux, offers commercial support, complemented by community support forums for addressing potential issues. Moreover, various other companies extend commercial support for Rocky Linux, positioning it as a compelling alternative for users in search of robust support.


CentOS Stream, as a branch of RHEL, embraces innovation by consistently leading in minor versions. However, its audacious rolling release methodology may inadvertently introduce instability, falling short of meeting the stringent requirements of organizations operating mission-critical servers.

In stark contrast, Rocky Linux prioritizes stability and performance, akin to CentOS. Positioned downstream of RHEL, it meticulously crafts releases using pristine code from upstream RHEL, ensuring it inherits the same glorious stability, unrivaled performance, and seamless app compatibility as its esteemed predecessors, RHEL and CentOS.

This meticulous process guarantees that each Rocky Linux release enjoys an extravagant 10-year support lifecycle, a testament to its unwavering commitment to providing unparalleled support for new applications and unmatched stability compared to the capricious CentOS Stream.


The Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) system is a key security feature on CentOS, Rocky Linux, and RHEL. It provides access control policies for various processes and files, creating multi-level security protection. SELinux is enabled by default on these operating systems, providing an extra layer of security.

While CentOS Stream also uses SELinux, it is considered to be less secure than CentOS Linux and RHEL. This is because Red Hat has announced that it will address security issues in CentOS Stream only after they are resolved in the current RHEL release.

Rocky Linux uses SELinux to implement a robust MAC (Mandatory Access Control) architecture. This allows Rocky Linux to create a containment system by separating information confidentiality and integrity, without relying on superusers or the traditional rights system approach. This approach provides a high level of security for the operating system.


Rocky Linux is a community-driven, enterprise-grade operating system built as a replacement for CentOS after its parent company, Red Hat, announced that it would be discontinuing support for CentOS. CentOS was a popular, free and open-source operating system based on the source code of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). So this is all you need to know about Rocky Linux vs CentOS background.

Rocky Linux aims to maintain compatibility with RHEL, which makes it compatible with most of the third-party software that is certified to run on RHEL. CentOS, being the upstream source for RHEL, is also compatible with most third-party software that is certified to run on RHEL. In this part Rocky Linux vs CentOS are almost the same.

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