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March 14, 2024

Top Enterprise Linux Distributions From the State of Open Source Report

Operating Systems

Last year was tumultuous in the world of enterprise Linux distributions. In June, we officially entered the final year of CentOS community support, with CentOS 7 end-of-life coming on June 30, 2024. It was also the month when Red Hat unexpectedly announced restrictions on the RHEL source code, drawing some criticism and complicating release plans for downstream RHEL distros like Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux. In August, Oracle, SUSE, and CIQ announced a new open source Linux project (OpenELA) and promised to keep the code freely available in order to “create continuity for all Enterprise Linux downstream distributions”.  

Given these developments, we were especially interested to see which enterprise Linux distributions would come out ahead in the 2024 State of Open Source Report. Read on to find out which distros grew vs. declined in usage from compared to the previous year and what the data suggests about Linux adoption trends.  

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The Top Enterprise Linux Distributions of 2024

In our global survey, we asked respondents to tell us which open source Linux distributions their organizations use, with the understanding that many use more than one. Here’s the breakdown followed by some key takeaways: 

Linux Distributions Chart from State of Open Source Report
Source: 2024 State of Open Source Report

1. For the Third Year in a Row, Ubuntu Is #1

46% of our survey population said they use Ubuntu, which is up from just under 30% last year. Looking at the results by region, over 50% of survey respondents in Europe and Latin America are using Ubuntu in their organizations. Ubuntu’s growth suggests that it has benefited from the controversies and changes related to RHEL and CentOS. Organizations might just prefer a stable Linux distribution with strong community support, predictable release schedules, and 5-year long-term support, which enables future planning. 

While Ubuntu remains a free open source project, vendors like OpenLogic offer enterprise-grade technical support without the need to purchase a commercial version of Ubuntu and software license. 

2. CentOS Usage at 22%; CentOS Stream Drops Below 10% 

Given that only one community supported version remains (CentOS 7), it’s a little surprising (and worrisome) to see that CentOS is still so widely used. In the technology sector, usage is even higher, at 28%. These respondents likely work for big companies with numerous deployments, whose migrations will be complex and take time. Any organizations still on CentOS should be preparing for the end of community support on June 30, 2024.  

While the working environment and rolling releases to build Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) now come from CentOS Stream, it is interesting to see that the respondents globally reduced the use or testing of CentOS Stream, as usage dropped from 16.74% to 9.47%. It seems that many tried or tested CentOS Stream for some time but not any more, and they are not ready to use it in production environments. So it appears that CentOS Stream won’t be able to fill the vacuum left when all versions of CentOS are end-of-life. 

The Most Comprehensive Report on Open Source 

From Linux distributions and databases to automation and web infrastructure tools, the 2024 State of Open Source Report covers the most popular technologies being used in organizations around the world. 

Download Report 

3. Amazon Linux, Rocky Linux, and AlmaLinux All Made Gains

The so-called “Linux Wars” are in full swing and based on this year’s report, we still don’t have a clear winner among the RHEL derivatives. Maybe the winner is all of us, since there are now more open source Linux distributions than ever to choose from! 

All kidding aside, it was good to see usage increase for a number of distributions, particularly Amazon (AWS) Linux, Rocky Linux, and AlmaLinux. Confidence in these projects seems to be strong despite 2023’s shakeups. Speaking of shakeups, we did ask survey respondents, "How much did the Red Hat decision regarding source code availability for derivative distributions impact your infrastructure planning for 2024?" 

Overall, the effect seems to have been minimally disruptive to teams; however, a few people said the change made them lose confidence in the stability of the Red Hat ecosystem. One person also shared that the announcement "required us to stop other work to determine what direction we needed to take for our underlying stack."

Soon after Red Hat’s announcement, Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux both put out statements explaining how they will adapt and move forward. Both projects have solid communities and sponsors (including OpenLogic) supporting their work. We spoke to representatives from AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux right after the Red Hat news broke; watch the videos below to learn more.




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Many organizations have started preparing for the post-CentOS future, with some securing CentOS long-term support while exploring CentOS alternatives (like Rocky Linux, AlmaLinux, Oracle Linux) or non-RHEL derivatives such as Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, and Alpine Linux among others. 

For those ready to plan their CentOS migration, there are a variety of open source and commercial Linux distributions to choose from — take a look at OpenLogic's Decision Maker's Guide to Enterprise Linux for head-to-head comparisons and deployment considerations. 

Need More Time on CentOS?

Don't rush your migration — extend the life of your CentOS deployments for 5 years after EOL with CentOS Transitional Support from OpenLogic. 

Get Centos Support

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Final Thoughts

There’s no question that Linux is the key open source technology that drives the technology landscape; it’s the preferred choice for organizations ranging from small startups to Fortune 500 enterprises. Whether deployed on-premises or in the cloud, Linux powers virtual machines, containers, and serverless architectures. We can see in the horizon that most new technologies from hardware and IoT to AI and ML will continue to be based on the Linux operating system. 

Enterprise Linux distributions prioritize long-term support, ensuring consistent quality and dependability. It's clear that active open source communities and sponsors play a crucial role in shaping the future landscape of Linux choices. It’s going to be very interesting to see potentially more changes in the Linux space in the coming months, and what next year's State of Open Source Report will reveal. 

Additional Resources

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