It goes without saying that CentOS 8 support with full updates ends in December 31, 2021. And thanks to the Open Source community which gave birth to Rocky Linux 8 operating system. Rocky Linux is a community enterprise operating system with the vision of being 100% bug-for-bug compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 (RHEL 8). As of this article writing, the available downloads are for release candidate not deemed fit for Production use.

In our recent article we discussed installation of AlmaLinux OS 8, which is already in GA. This could be your best bet if you need CentOS 8 alternative for running production workloads as at the moment. In this article we will cover a step-by-step installation of Rocky Linux 8.4 on a physical server, VirtualBox, VMware ESXi, VMware workstation, Xen or XCP-ng virtualization platform.

Step 1: Download Rocky Linux 8 ISO image

Visit Rocky Linux 8 releases page and select the latest available ISO image – Minimal, DVD,

Begin the download of Rocky Linux 8 by choosing DVD or Minimal ISO file. For servers you can use minimal, and DVD for installation on Laptop or Home Desktop computer.

# CLI download with wget
# DVD
curl -O https://download.rockylinux.org/pub/rocky/8.4/isos/x86_64/Rocky-8.4-x86_64-dvd1.iso

#Minimal ISO
curl -O https://download.rockylinux.org/pub/rocky/8.4/isos/x86_64/Rocky-8.4-x86_64-minimal.iso

#Network install ISO
curl -O https://download.rockylinux.org/pub/rocky/8.4/isos/x86_64/Rocky-8.4-x86_64-boot.iso

Step 2a: Create Bootable USB Stick (Physical machine installation)

Once the ISO image is downloaded you have two options:

  • Create Bootable USB Stick media for installation on Laptops or physical server environments
  • Create VM template with compute resources and attach ISO image to virtual CD drive

For installation on Laptops and Desktops we need to create bootable USB stick.

Using dd command on Linux:

# Identify USB device
$ lsblk

# Flash Rocky Linux OS to USB drive
$ sudo dd bs=4M if=./Rocky-8.4-x86_64-dvd1.iso of=/dev/sdx status=progress oflag=sync

Where:

  • /dev/sdx is the path to USB stick as shown by lsblk command
  • ./Rocky-8.4-x86_64-dvd1.iso is the ISO image path, it can be absolute e.g /home/$USER/Downlods/Rocky-8.4-x86_64-dvd1.iso

On Windows and macOS use tools such as rufus vs Etcher

Step 2b: Create Rocky Linux 8 VM – In Virtualized Environment

In a Virtualized environment – VMware Workstation/ESXi, VirtualBox, Xen or XCP-ng, you’ll initiate creation of a Virtual Machine with hardware specs that suit your desired use and attach ISO image for installation.

VirtualBox

Create a new VM and give it a name. Choose Linux for OS type and Red Hat 64-bit for Version.

Finish creating the VM template. When done click on “Rocky-Linux-8 VM” > “Settings

Select “Storage” and Disc plus sign under “Storage Devices” section.

Choose “Add” to map Rocky Linux 8 ISO image.

Browse and choose Rocky Linux 8 ISO file then use “OK” button to save the settings.

VMware

On VMware you can drag ISO file when initiating VM creation

Or manually browse to ISO file directory and select Rocky Linux 8 ISO file.

Xen | XCP-ng

Choose “CentOS 8” template.

Give VM a name:

On “Installation Media” select Rocky Linux 8 ISO. If you don’t know how to upload check the guide Adding ISO Library Storage Repository in Xen XCP-ng.

Step 3: Install Rocky Linux 8 on Physical machine|VirtualBox | VMware | Xen | XCP-ng

Finish resource allocations to the Virtual Machine and start it. On a physical box, insert bootable USB stick and modify your boot options to boot from it.

Initiate installation of Rocky Linux 8 on VirtualBox | VMware | Xen | XCP-ng by choosing one of the first two options.

Choose the language to be used during installation of Rocky Linux 8.

Storage configurations

Select “Installation Destination” and hit enter.

Select Local disk to be used and storage configuration that works for your needs.

When done save the changes by clicking “Save” button.

Software selection

Use “Software Selection” menu to select the Base environment for your installation

You can also pick additional software components to be installed.

Configure Hostname and Networking

Use “Network & Host Name” to set this machine host name and IP information.

Configure server’s host name as well.

Turn on the network interface you want to use.

If you have DHCP server in place it will automatically get an IP address assigned. Otherwise configure IP information manually.

Configure Time and Date

Select “Time & Date

Set your region and City and enable NTP.

Confirm both Time and Network settings are configured.

Optionally choose a “Security Policy” you want to use.

Set root password and create admin user

Set a strong password for the root user.

Input and confirm root user password:

Select “User creation” to add first admin user account.

Input all required user information and set password.

Begin Rocky Linux 8 installation on VirtualBox | VMware | Xen | XCP-ng

With all the settings saved start installation by clicking “Begin Installation“.

The installer will start with disk partitioning based on selected scheme, then downloading of packages matching base environment.

Packages installation on to the disk starts thereafter.

Packages are installed and configured:

When the installer finishes its work you can eject installation medium and reboot Rocky Linux 8 to start using it.

Accept License Agreement.

Finish configuration to start using Rocky Linux 8 OS.

Login with username and password as configured.

Check operating system release details from the terminal.

$ cat /etc/os-release
NAME="Rocky Linux"
VERSION="8"
ID="rocky"
ID_LIKE="rhel fedora"
VERSION_ID="8"
PLATFORM_ID="platform:el8"
PRETTY_NAME="Rocky Linux 8"
ANSI_COLOR="0;31"
CPE_NAME="cpe:/o:rocky:rocky:8"
HOME_URL="https://rockylinux.org/"
BUG_REPORT_URL="https://bugs.rockylinux.org/"
ROCKY_SUPPORT_PRODUCT="Rocky Linux"
ROCKY_SUPPORT_PRODUCT_VERSION="8"

Update your Rocky Linux system:

$ sudo yum -y update

After successful installation of Rocky Linux 8 you can begin testing the OS and share any bugs you encounter with the Development team by joining the ~Testing channel on the Mattermost server. There’s also a testing topic on the forums for more durable conversation.