AlmaLinux 9 beta is now available and introduces several improvements


The next iteration of AlmaLinux is on the horizon, and while it doesn’t bring drastic changes, Jack Wallen thinks it offers enough for everyone to want to upgrade.

Illustration: Lisa Hornung/TechRepublic

AlmaLinux is a Linux distribution that is 1:1 binary compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. That means it’s perfectly at home as an enterprise server operating system that can handle anything you can throw at it. This server-centric operating system was first released in 2021 as a replacement for CentOS and would serve as an alternative to RHEL.

Since its inception, AlmaLinux has become one of the most popular options for those who want the power, security, and reliability of RHEL, but don’t want to pay the price. Although it’s not my Linux server of choice (that title belongs to Ubuntu Server), AlmaLinux is the distro I turn to when Ubuntu Server isn’t an option (for example when a deployment requires the level of security higher offered with SELinux).

With the release of RHEL 9 in May, it’s no surprise that AlmaLinux 9 is following in its footsteps. Although there is no official release date for the next iteration of AlmaLinux, what we do know is that the beta has finally arrived and although it is not a major change from what was offered in AlmaLinux 8, there is certainly something to get a little excited about this next release.

Let’s find out what happens to this exceptional Linux distro.

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It starts with the core

AlmaLinux 9 is based on upstream kernel version 5.14, which adds more support for newer hardware and a hot unplug feature for Radeon cards. Other kernel 5.14 improvements include:

  • Basic scheduling
  • A new I/O priority controller
  • Secret memory areas
  • Journaling improvements for the default ext4 filesystem.
  • Low Latency USB Driver

SELinux gets some serious performance improvements

One thing that has been a problem with any Linux distro that uses SELinux is that with the security layer enabled, there is always a small performance hit to be had. According to Red Hatenhancements to SELinux that are in the next release result in:

  • Reduced time to load SELinux policies into the kernel (from ~1.3 seconds to only ~106 milliseconds).
  • Reduced time to rebuild SELinux policies from modules (from ~21.9 seconds to ~5.7 seconds).
  • Reduced size of the final SELinux policy binary blog (from 7.6 MB to 3.3 MB).
  • Reduced memory overhead (from ~30 MB to ~15 MB).
  • Reduced time to create files with SELinux enabled (from ~55 microseconds to ~44 microseconds).
  • More optimal sizing of internal hash tables.
  • Find role transitions faster.
  • Faster filename transitions.
  • Faster hash table operations.

Anyone hoping for a faster AlmaLinux experience should be excited about what’s to come.

New packages

As with any new release, a number of pre-installed and available packages have been updated. You will find updates such as Perl 5.32, PHP 8.0, Git 2.31, Apache HTTP Server 2.4, Varnish Cache 6.5, Squid 5.2, MySQL 8.0, Redis 6.2, GCC 11.2, glibc 2.34, binutils 2.35, Go Toolset 1.17.7, GDB 10.2, Valgrind 3.18.1, SystemTap 4.6, Dyninst 11.0.0, elfutils 0.186, Maven 3.6 and Ant 1.10.

Various improvements

There are many other improvements to be found in AlmaLinux 9, such as improved web console performance metrics, live kernel patches via web console, streamlined imaging, smart card authentication (via web console), additional security profiles, verbose SSSD logging, OpenSSL 3 root password login and embedded SSH disabled by default.

Conclusion

AlmaLinux 9 may not offer any new negotiation or breaking features, but the additional hardware support found in the latest consumer kernel and the performance improvements in SELinux alone should make most admins excited about this. New version.

For those who want to kick the tires of the AlmaLinux 9 beta, download an ISO copy and spin it.

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