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Oracle Linux provides a stable, free RHEL-compatible alternative to CentOS with support included in Oracle Cloud

Julie Wong
Product Management Director

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably a CentOS user and in a position where you need to look at alternatives. There’s no better time to consider switching from CentOS to Oracle Linux. Switching to Oracle Linux is easy, whether on-premises or in Oracle Cloud, and doesn’t require a full system reinstallation or other coding changes.

This blog focuses on why you should consider Oracle Linux as the best alternative to CentOS in the cloud, specifically Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). If you’re interested in the switch to Oracle Linux for on-premises deployments, you can find more details in this blog.

Free to use and distribute—for more than 14 years

Since the debut of Oracle Linux release 4 in 2006, it has been free to use and easy to download. Major and update releases have been free for more than 14 years. Errata releases have been freely available since 2012. Free source code, free binaries, free updates, free errata, freely redistributable – without having to sign any documents with Oracle and no need to remove trademarks and copyrights – and free for production use.

Oracle Linux has a release for every equivalent Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) release, 4, 5, 6, 7, and most recently 8. Oracle Linux releases consistently track with RHEL’s releases. Minor releases are usually available within five business days, errata typically within 24 hours, and major releases within three months.

The identical versions of Linux are available for both free and supported systems. Oracle Linux helps you keep consistent environments across the development, testing, and production lifecycle, whether on-premises or in the cloud. You decide which support coverage is best for each individual system, while keeping all systems up-to-date and secure.

Oracle is committed to cultivating, supporting, and promoting a free and open Linux operating system that customers can confidently deploy in business-critical environments. To understand Oracle’s strategy and commitment to Linux, read Oracle’s Commitment to Linux.

Compatible and enhanced

Oracle Linux is 100% application binary compatible with RHEL. Since the 2006 launch, enterprises have been running Oracle Linux with no compatibility bugs logged.

Oracle offers a choice of two kernels: the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) for Oracle Linux or the Red Hat Compatible Kernel (RHCK). Oracle supports both. UEK offers extensive performance and scalability improvements to the process scheduler, memory management, file systems, and the networking stack.

We believe that the source for the kernel you run should be easy to pick apart. That’s why we publish the UEK source code, complete with the original mainline changelog and our changelog on GitHub.

Whether running on UEK or RHCK, Oracle Linux is fully compatible with RHEL.

Designed for all workloads

Oracle Linux is designed for all workloads and can be deployed on a broad range of Compute resources in OCI, including AMD Flex and Intel-based bare metal, VM, Dense I/O, GPU, and HPC shapes. Oracle Linux is developed to help ensure that Linux can optimally support all workloads including third-party hardware and applications, Oracle products, and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

Support included at no extra cost on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

If you’re looking for a free supported alternative to CentOS, you can switch to Oracle Linux and receive Oracle Linux Premier Support at no extra cost when you subscribe to OCI. Updates are freely available from the local OCI yum server, so downloads are faster and no network charges are incurred.

With Oracle Linux in Oracle Cloud, you no longer need to manage or budget for OS support licenses. CentOS deployments with no previous OS support subscriptions are entitled to support at no additional cost when deployed on Oracle Linux in OCI. For example, if you’re currently running a CentOS image in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, you can receive support on that instance, and your bill for that instance doesn’t change.

OCI provides frequently updated Oracle Linux images that are optimized to run right away, with the latest security patches, prepackaged cloud integration tools, and best practice configurations. Another exclusive feature included with an OCI subscription is Oracle Ksplice. This technology applies zero-downtime security updates for the kernel and key user space libraries, such as glibc and openssl. Ksplice works while the system is running, without requiring a reboot, and without stopping applications.

Oracle also offers Oracle Autonomous Linux instances in OCI. Autonomous Linux includes Ksplice and other enhancements to provide a self-patching, self-tuning runtime environment that helps eliminate complexity, and increase security and availability. It runs on OCI, provides full RHEL application compatibility, and receives the same free support.

Start the switch to Oracle Linux

Explore the CentOS alternative—Oracle Linux with OCI—to help improve reliability and security, reduce downtime, and save money. To get started, sign up for an Oracle Cloud Infrastructure account and access your Oracle Cloud Free Tier account today. Discover how easy it is to switch from CentOS to Oracle Linux, by running the switch script and connecting to the OCI yum server mirrors for fast access to software.