How to Switch from CentOS 8 to Rocky Linux 8.4

Written by Kelsey Kinzer on December 29, 2021

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On December 8, 2020, the Linux community was caught off guard by Red Hat’s shocking announcement regarding the future of the CentOS project. In their statement, the CentOS project will be discontinued in favor of CentOS Stream, a rolling release.

At the stroke of midnight on December 31, 2021 CentOS 8 will reach end of life (EOL) and will, therefore, no longer be supported by Red Hat. Simply put, CentOS 8 will no longer receive system, security, and feature updates.

The shift from the CentOS project to CentOS Stream caused a lot of consternation, especially among developers and system administrators who have, for years, relied on the stability and reliability of CentOS to deploy and host production workloads.

CentOS Stream is a rolling release and the upstream release to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). As a rolling release, it will receive constant software updates and there’s no telling how they will impact the applications in production or the stability of the system in general. As such, CentOS Stream is not a favorable candidate for production workloads.

The discontinuation of CentOS 8 is particularly unsettling to those who have upgraded from CentOS 7 to CentOS 8 to take advantage of new software updates and enhancements. While CentOS 7 will be supported until 2024, those who are still using CentOS 8 find themselves in a predicament.

What to Do About CentOS EOL

In response to the discontinuation of the CentOS project, the Linux community has unveiled a few alternatives to fill in the gap left by the CentOS project. The two most recommended options to take over from CentOS 8 are AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux.

AlmaLinux is an open source and community-driven, enterprise-grade distro initially developed by CloudLinux. It focuses on providing a stable and robust system for enterprise workloads. AlmaLinux is 1:1 binary compatible with RHEL and is completely free to download and install.

Another solid alternative for CentOS 8 is Rocky Linux. Its development was spearheaded by Gregory Kurtzer, the founder of the CentOS project. Like AlmaLinux, it is free, open source, and provides the enterprise-grade stability required for intensive production workloads.

Both of these operating systems are offered by major cloud providers such as AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.

In this guide, we will focus on how to switch from CentOS 8 to Rocky Linux 8 and still enjoy the benefits of a production-ready server.

How to Switch from CentOS 8 to Rocky Linux 8

Rocky Linux 8.4, code-named Green Obsidian, is the first stable release of Rocky Linux and was made available after months of intensive development by the Rocky Foundation Team. It was released on June 21, 2021, barely two months after its beta version — Rocky Linux 8.3 RC1 — was released.

Migration to Rocky Linux is quite easy, thanks to a migration script that automates the migration process and converts CentOS 8 to Rocky Linux 8.4.

To get started, SSH to your CentOS 8 server instance.

$ ssh [email protected]

Before anything else, perform a system update to upgrade your CentOS 8 server to its latest release.

$ sudo dnf update

In our case, we have managed to upgrade our CentOS 8 system to its latest release which is CentOS 8.4.2105.

You can confirm your server’s operating system and release by running the command:

$ cat /etc/redhat-release

Next, proceed by downloading the migrate2rocky.sh migration script from GitHub using the wget command shown.

$ wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/rocky-linux/rocky-tools/main/migrate2rocky/migrate2rocky.sh

Once downloaded, be sure to make the script executable using the chmod command.

$ chmod +x migrate2rocky.sh

We are now all set to make the switch to Rocky Linux 8.4. To do so, execute the migration script as follows. The -r option instructs the script to convert to Rocky Linux.

$ sudo bash migrate2rocky.sh -r

The migration starts right away by detecting the CentOS 8 repositories that directly map to Rocky Linux 8. 

Thereafter, the script removes the CentOS 8 core packages and replaces them with Rocky Linux 8 equivalents. The script then proceeds to download all the new packages needed by Rocky Linux 8.4.

Some packages are reinstalled and upgraded to their latest versions. The migration to Rocky Linux 8.4 is quite intensive and takes some time. In our case, it took close to an hour. 

Once the reinstallation of all the required packages is complete, you will be prompted to reboot your system. At this point, the migration to Rocky Linux is complete and a log of the whole process is saved at the /var/log/migrate2rocky.log file.

You now need to reboot your system.

$ sudo reboot

The system should automatically boot into the new Rocky system. If you have physical access to your server you will notice a new Rocky Linux entry in the GRUB menu.

Finally, authenticate with your username and password and verify that you are now running Rocky Linux 8.4.

Conclusion

Rocky Linux is a transparent, stable, and solid alternative to CentOS 8 and is purely community-driven for the Linux community of users. If you’re an IT administrator trying to decide what to do about CentOS end of life, Rocky is a great option for 2022 and beyond. 

The JumpCloud Directory Platform now supports Rocky Linux 8.4, the next distro to be added to our device management capabilities. The following distros are also supported by our robust cloud directory platform: 

  • Amazon Linux (2013.09-2018.03)
  • Amazon Linux 2 (AWS on ARM64)
  • CentOS 7, 8
  • RHEL 7, 8
  • Debian 9 (64 bit), 10
  • Fedora 34
  • Ubuntu 18.04 (64 bit), 20.04, and 21.04 (x86_64 and ARM64)
  • Mint 19, 20 Cinnamon (64 bit)

If you are looking for a better way to manage your entire device fleet across Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems, try JumpCloud today. You can create a JumpCloud Free account today, and use the complete platform for up to 10 devices and 10 users free until you are ready to scale. You’ll also enjoy 10 days of in-app support as well.

Kelsey Kinzer

Kelsey is a passionate storyteller and Content Writer at JumpCloud. She is particularly inspired by the people who drive innovation in B2B tech. When away from her screen, you can find her climbing mountains and (unsuccessfully) trying to quit cold brew coffee.

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