To do this, it appears AlmaLinux will use the CentOS Stream source code that Red Hat continues to offer to everyone. The change in methods will require an overhaul in the development and build processes. Moving forward, users can expect detailed comments on patches that include the source of the applied patch, promoting transparency. Also, bug reporters will be asked to test and replicate the issue in CentOS Stream, optimizing the team's troubleshooting efforts.
According to AlmaLinux chairperson benny Vasquez, the precise goal is "ABI compatibility [which] in our case means working to ensure that applications built to run on RHEL (or RHEL clones) can run without issue on AlmaLinux. Adjusting to this expectation removes our need to ensure that everything we release is an exact copy of the source code that you would get with RHEL."
The Foundation hopes that its strategic shift will cause minimal disruption to AlmaLinux users. RHEL-compatible applications should continue to function seamlessly on AlmaLinux OS. Users, AlmaLinux promises, can expect regular security updates.
However, the new direction liberates AlmaLinux from the "bug-for-bug compatibility" with Red Hat. Putting a positive spin on it, AlmaLinux's position is that the team can accept bug fixes outside Red Hat's release cycle, potentially encountering unique bugs but also capable of patching bugs not yet addressed by Red Hat.
Vasquez added, "While all of these changes open up a lot of opportunities, we want to be clear about the fact that we are still dedicated to being good open-source citizens. We'll continue to contribute upstream in Fedora and CentOS Stream and to the greater Enterprise Linux ecosystem, just as we have been doing since our inception, and we invite our community to do the same!"
Joe Brockmeier, an open-source community expert, and former Red Hatter, appreciates what AlmaLinux is doing. "The Alma community has chosen to be the friendly fork. Rather than throwing stones at Red Hat and trying to drag another member of the open-source community down, they considered the options carefully and came up with a solution that looks like it can be good for everybody."
Will this approach be good for AlmaLinux? Time will tell.