AWS commits to update its own Linux every other year

Amazon Web Services has announced that it will release an updated version of its own Linux every two years, starting with Amazon Linux 2022, which it is now testing.

The Cloud Colossus Released Its First Linux Distribution in 2010, and seven … years … later … delivered a successor.

In the name of speeding things up a bit, Jeff Bezos’ computer rental service has promised a new version every two years, each of which will be supported for five years and will receive quarterly adjustments.

AL2022 uses the Fedora project as its upstream, but AWS can add or replace specific non-Fedora upstream packages. The AL2022 preview is based on Fedora34, while the full version will move to Fedora 35 (which was released on November 2).

The SELinux security module is enabled and applied by default in AL2022, but EC2 instances running the operating system will not automatically deploy security updates or patches. Instead, users can choose to automate the installation of packages, patches, or both.

For high-level packages, updates will be included in the quarterly install, but will not be imposed on users. “For example, the default version of Python on Amazon Linux 2022 may be 3.8, but we will add Python 3.9 (python39) as a separate namespace package whenever it is available,” explains a Frequently asked questions about AL2022.

The default packages included in a given release “will continue to be supported for the life of AL2022.”

the GitHub repository for the operating system includes a road map detailing future additions.

Migrating from previous versions of Amazon Linux will not be easy. AWS recommends “replacing your instances and migrating your application stack along with operating system configuration to a new AMI AL2022”. So your afternoon is gone.

Amazon’s pitch for the new release cycle is stability and predictability, which is just what companies like Microsoft, Red Hat, Canonical, and SUSE have offered for years. The recently announced release cycle and AL2022 suggest that AWS has decided that it needs to play the operating system game with the same professionalism as its rivals.

But AWS also offers “no license costs, tight integration with AWS-specific tools and capabilities, immediate access to new AWS innovations, and a single vendor support experience.” That combination is a clear proposition for customers to use AL2022 if they want a complete AWS experience.

Other clouds cannot, or cannot, make that launch. Microsoft is not concerned about which operating system you use on Azure, but recommends Windows-Server-centric AzureStack for hybrid clouds. Google doesn’t have a server operating system, but it claims that the fact that it invented Kubernetes makes its cloud a good place to put it to work. IBM offers a POWER cloud and Oracle has a SPARC cloud, but both are niche concerns, with each player emphasizing their x86 and Ampere offerings as the tools with which to run major workloads.

AWS is also seemingly indifferent to the operating system you run on your cloud; It will pay you something regardless of your choice. But the fact that it has improved its game as an operating system vendor suggests that the murky concern has a stronger preference for its own operating system than previously expressed. ®

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