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The Centos Thing: Trying Oracle Linux 8

Redhat have decided to cease to provide CentOS Linux 8 after December 2021. Many people are looking for an alternative.

Oracle Linux is produced by recompiling the RHEL source code as released by RedHat. I installed Oracle Linux from their boot image on an old Thinkpad T61. It works fine (although Gnome desktop is a bit heavy for a core duo with 2G of RAM, much better with 4Gb) and you can configure repositories including elrepo for kernel drivers and epel for a wider range of desktop software. By default, Oracle Linux boots into Oracle's own Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK), but it is possible to configure the use of RHCK by default, and to remove the UEK from the boot list.


I just downloaded the boot iso from Oracle (no registration required) and dd'ed the iso to a USB stick. There is an 'everything' iso that is 8.3Gb but I preferred to use the 630Mb boot iso.

Booting the BIOS Thinkpad from the usb stick brings up the Anaconda installation program. I used a cable connection to my router and filled in the details.

The boot.iso did not have a default repository address in the 'software source' spoke of the anaconda installer. I just used the public repository at...

Then I accepted the default hard drive layout, set up my users and a root password and after 10 to 15 minutes I rebooted into a command line login. Updated the software using dnf...

# dnf update

Gnome desktop

I used the workstation groupinstall along with gdm to set up Gnome in all its glory, and then set a graphical login...

# dnf groupinstall workstation
# dnf install gdm
# systemctl set-default graphical.target
# reboot

Changing the default kernel

Oracle Linux booted into the UEK which is a 5.4 series kernel that includes the iwlwifi firmware needed for the Thinkpad's wifi card. However, I decided to set the default kernel to the RHCK which is 4.18 series. EL 8 distributions include the grubby tool to change the default kernel for BIOS based computers...

# grubby --info=ALL                                               # lists available kernels
# grubby --set-default /boot/vmlinuz-4.18.0-240.1.1.el8_3.x86_64
# grubby --remove-kernel /boot/vmlinuz-5.4.17-2036.100.6.1.el8uek.x86_64

The UEK is still installed, grubby just removes it from the boot list.

Wifi and ElRepo repository

I now needed to enable the elrepo repository and install the RHCK kernel modules for the Intel wifi card used in the ancient Thinkpad...

# rpm --import https://www.elrepo.org/RPM-GPG-KEY-elrepo.org
# dnf install https://www.elrepo.org/elrepo-release-8.el8.elrepo.noarch.rpm
# dnf update
# dnf install kmod-iwlegacy.x86_64
# modprobe -r iwlegacy
# modprobe  iwlegacy

Libreoffice and Fedora epel repository

The default Gnome desktop has a very thin software selection. Libreoffice, the GIMP and Inkscape are available in the main repository...

# dnf install libreoffice-impress libreoffice-writer libreoffice-calc libreoffice-gtk3 
# dnf install gimp inkscape

To get a wider range of software, such as R and Audacity, I needed to enable the Fedora epel repository...

# dnf install https://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/epel/epel-release-latest-8.noarch.rpm
# dnf update
# dnf install audacity lame-libs
# dnf config-manager --enable ol8_codeready_builder # Oracle's take on PowerTools
# dnf install R-core R-core-devel

Conclusion: reassuringly boring

Oracle Linux 8 seems to be very similar to CentOS Linux 8 apart from the names of a couple of the options you need to use (PowerTools becomes ol8_codeready_builder) and the fact that the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel sneaked itself in when I updated initially. No registration was required and I did not have to accept any form of licence agreement.

Last modified: Sun 13 Dec 21:11:35 GMT 2020 | This is a Web page