December 28 2023

Update CentOS 7 to Almalinux

Guide to upgrading from CentOS 7, ensuring data protection and business continuity with specialized and reliable support.

Introduction to the CentOS 7 update

The announcement of the end of support for CentOS 7, scheduled for June 30, 2024, represents a significant turning point for system administrators and companies that rely on this platform. CentOS 7, which has long served as a cornerstone for countless applications and services, is about to enter a critical phase of its lifecycle.

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With the end of support, it becomes imperative for CentOS 7 users to evaluate and implement migration strategies to ensure the security, efficiency and reliability of their systems. In this context, our article aims to be a comprehensive information resource, outlining not only the reasons why migration is necessary, but also exploring the various alternatives available. Furthermore, the piece culminates with a detailed step-by-step guide to ease the transition to AlmaLinux, one of the most promising successors to CentOS, using the advanced tool ELevate.

End of CentOS 7 Support

With its initial release in 2014, CentOS 7 quickly became one of the most reliable and popular Linux operating systems, finding use in millions of servers around the world. However, every technology has its own life cycle and CentOS 7 is no exception. The crucial date of June 30, 2024 marks the end of official support for CentOS 7, a moment that signals a radical change for the user community. After this date, security updates or patches will no longer be available, leaving systems vulnerable to new threats and increasing security risks. This scenario creates an urgent need for system administrators and businesses to plan ahead, identifying workarounds and migration strategies to maintain the security and integrity of their systems and data.

Changes in the CentOS Landscape

December 2020 marked a turning point for the CentOS community with Red Hat announcing significant structural changes to the project. Abandoning the previous model, Red Hat has turned its attention towards CentOS Stream, a rolling-release version that serves as a proving ground for the development of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

fedora-centos-rhel9

This move has left CentOS 7 users in a precarious situation, without a subsequent stable version to which they can migrate, especially considering that CentOS 8 has already reached its End-Of-Life (EOL) much earlier than expected. This change pushed the community to look for valid alternatives, with a particular focus on distributions that could offer an experience similar to that of CentOS, but with the guarantee of long-term support and continuous updates, essential for business operations and hosting.

Migration Options

Following the end of support for CentOS 7, users are faced with the need to migrate to other Linux distributions, especially those that offer stability and security for enterprise environments and production servers. CentOS Stream, while a valid choice for some scenarios, presents challenges due to its rolling release nature, which could lead to greater instability and compatibility issues, making it less suitable for critical applications. As a result, distributions such as AlmaLinux, Oracle Linux, and Rocky Linux emerge as viable alternatives. These distributions not only offer a similar experience to CentOS, but also ensure regular updates and long-term support, which are essential for the business continuity and security of enterprise systems. Each of these options has its own peculiarities and advantages, making them interesting for different use cases and business needs.

AlmaLinux: A New Star in the Linux Landscape

AlmaLinux positions itself as one of the most promising alternatives for CentOS users. Born as a direct response to the discontinuation of stable versions of CentOS, AlmaLinux is developed and supported by CloudLinux, a company known for its commitment to the security and stability of Linux servers. CloudLinux brings decades of experience in the operating systems sector, specializing in solutions for hosting providers and data centers.

The main feature of AlmaLinux is its close affinity with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), ensuring a nearly seamless transition for CentOS users. This aspect is crucial for companies that require stability and compatibility in their IT ecosystem. AlmaLinux offers regular releases and long-term support, ensuring continuous updates and security fixes that are critical to keeping enterprise systems secure and reliable.

Business and Community Support

One of the strengths of AlmaLinux is the support of CloudLinux, which is committed to guaranteeing the support and updating of the distribution for the next few years. Furthermore, AlmaLinux enjoys the support of an active and growing community, which is essential for the development and long-term maintenance of any Linux distribution.

Migration from CentOS 7 to AlmaLinux 8

For users facing the migration from CentOS 7, the ELevate tool offers itself as an effective and reliable solution. ELevate is designed to simplify the upgrade process, allowing users to move to a new deployment while keeping existing data and system configurations unchanged.

Elevate-AlmaLinux-8

Before undertaking the migration, it is essential to perform a complete backup of all data and configurations to prevent any loss. Additionally, it is highly recommended to test the migration process in a non-critical environment to identify and resolve any issues before applying it to production systems. This methodical approach ensures a smooth and safe transition, minimizing risks and ensuring business continuity when moving to a new platform.

Detailed Migration Procedure

Here are the detailed steps to migrate from CentOS 7 to AlmaLinux using ELevate:

CentOS 7 update

Make sure your system is updated to the latest available version of CentOS 7.

Run the commands:

yum update -y reboot

ELevate installation

Download and install ELevate with the command:

yum install -y http://repo.almalinux.org/elevate/elevate-release-latest-el7.noarch.rpm

Leapp Package Selection

Install the appropriate leapp package. For AlmaLinux, the command is:

yum install -y leapp-upgrade leapp-data-almalinux

Performing the Pre-Upgrade Check

Perform a pre-upgrade check to identify any problems. The command is:

leapp preupgrade

Consult the generated file /var/log/leapp/leapp-report.txt for any problems and solutions.

Preparing for the Update

In some configurations, Leapp generates true/false questions in the file /var/log/leapp/answerfile. You must answer these questions to proceed.

Make the suggested corrections in the file leapp-report.txt.

Follow the instructions on the page https://wiki.almalinux.org/elevate/ELevate-frequent-issues to resolve known issues.

Starting the Update

Begin the update process with the commands:

leap upgrade
reboot

While rebooting, select the new entry in GRUB called ELEvate-Upgrade-Initramfs.

Post-Migration Verification

After rebooting, log in to the system and verify the migration with commands like:

cat /etc/redhat-release cat /etc/os-release rpm -qa | grep centos

Important Notes and Recommendations

Before starting any migration procedure, it is essential to perform a complete backup of both the system and the data. This step is vital to protect existing information and configurations in the event of failures or unexpected events during the migration. The backup should include:

  1. User and Application Data: Be sure to copy all data that is crucial to your business operation, including databases, configuration files, documents, emails, and any other types of important data.
  2. System Configurations: Save system settings, network configuration files, custom scripts and any other configuration that may be difficult to reconstruct.
  3. Using Reliable Tools: Use reliable and tested backup tools. We recommend using a solution that supports incremental backup and offers data verification options.
  4. Recovery Test: It is crucial to not only back up but also test the recovery procedure to ensure that the backup is reliable and the data is recoverable should the need arise.

Possibility of Multiple Restarts During the Upgrade

The upgrade process from CentOS 7 to AlmaLinux via ELevate may require one or more system reboots. This is a normal aspect of the migration process, as some updates require a reboot to complete the installation or to boot with a new kernel. It is recommended to:

  1. Schedule Reboots: Factor these reboots into your migration plan, especially if you are working on production servers.
  2. Active Monitoring: Monitor the system during these reboots to ensure that all services and applications run correctly after each reboot.
  3. Communication with Users: Inform affected end users and IT personnel of the possibility of downtime or limited access to the system during the upgrade process.

Tests on Test Systems

Given that ELevate is still in the testing phase, it is strongly recommended to initially migrate to non-critical systems or test environments. This approach allows you to:

  1. Identify Specific Problems: Every IT environment has its own peculiarities, and testing in a non-critical environment helps identify problems unique to your context before applying them to more important systems.
  2. Evaluate Application Compatibility: Make sure all applications work properly in the new operating system.
  3. Staff training: Provide IT staff with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the migration process and resolve any issues in a low-risk environment.

Documentation and Support

Finally, maintain detailed documentation of the entire migration process and consult official resources and the community for support and guidelines. This helps ensure an informed transition supported by a solid knowledge base.

Conclusion

Migrating from CentOS 7 to a more recent and supported Linux distribution represents a fundamental step to ensure the security and stability of computer systems. In a context in which cybersecurity threats are increasingly sophisticated and frequent, keeping the operating system updated is not only a good practice, but an essential necessity.

Our Experience at Your Service

At MANAGED SERVER SRL, we understand the challenges and complexities involved in this process. With our experience gained since 2005 in the Linux systems sector, we are able to offer a professional, accurate and personalized migration service. Our expertise covers a wide range of systems and configurations, ensuring that every aspect of the migration is handled with the utmost care.

Guarantee of Security and Operational Continuity

We know how important not only data security but also business continuity is for your business. As such, our migration approach is designed to be as painless as possible, minimizing downtime and ensuring that all business operations can continue without interruption. Data protection and business continuity are our top priorities.

Contact us for a Custom Migration

If you are considering upgrading from CentOS 7 and need assistance, please contact us. We offer customized solutions to adapt to the specific needs of your IT environment. Our team of experts is ready to assist you every step of the way, from initial planning to post-migration support, to ensure a smooth and safe transition to your new operating system.

Do you have doubts? Don't know where to start? Contact us!

We have all the answers to your questions to help you make the right choice.

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