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Google Cloud Introduces Optimized Rocky Linux Images for Customers Moving Off CentOS

MMS Founder
MMS Renato Losio

Article originally posted on InfoQ. Visit InfoQ

Google recently announced the general availability of Rocky Linux optimized for Google Cloud. The new images are customized variants of Rocky Linux, the open-source enterprise distribution compatible with Red Hat Enterprise.

Developed in collaboration with CIQ, the support and services partner of Rocky Linux, the new images are a direct replacement for CentOS workloads. Started by Gregory Kurtzer, the founder of the CentOS project and CEO of CIQ, Rocky Linux is a downstream, binary-compatible release built using the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) source code. The distribution was born after Red Hat decided not to provide full updates and maintenance updates for CentOS 8 as initially announced.

Google Cloud builds and supports the Rocky Linux images for Compute Engine, with both a fully open source version and one optimized for Google Cloud: this version has the suffix “-optimized-gcp” and uses the latest version of the Google virtual network interface (gVNIC). Clark Kibler, senior product manager at Google, explains:

These new images contain customized variants of the Rocky Linux kernel and modules that optimize networking performance on Compute Engine infrastructure, while retaining bug-for-bug compatibility with Community Rocky Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The high bandwidth networking enabled by these customizations will be beneficial to virtually any workload, and are especially valuable for clustered workloads such as HPC (see this page for more details on configuring a VM with high bandwidth).

A few months ago, Venkat Gattamneni, senior product manager at Google, announced the partnership with CIQ and promised more integrations with the new distribution:

In addition to CIQ-backed support for Rocky Linux, Google is also working with CIQ to provide a streamlined product experience – with plans to include performance-tuned Rocky Linux images, out-of-the-box support for specialized Google infrastructure, tools to help support easy migration, and more.

Google Cloud is not the only provider supporting Rocky Linux. AWS and Azure are other sponsors of the Rocky Linux project and offer AMI in the AWS and Azure marketplaces. Kibler adds:

Going forward, we’ll collaborate with CIQ to publish both the community and Optimized for Google Cloud editions of Rocky Linux for every major release, and both sets of images will receive the latest kernel and security updates provided by CIQ and the Rocky Linux community.

The Rocky Linux 8 AMI optimized for Google Cloud is available for all x86-based Compute Engine VM families. Versions for the new Arm-based Tau T2A and Rocky Linux 9, the latest Rocky generally available release, are expected soon. Google does not charge a license fee for using Rocky Linux with Compute Engine.

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