Alpine Linux is a lightweight Linux distribution that focuses on security, simplicity, and efficiency. If you have used Docker, you are probably familiar with Alpine Linux.

If you haven’t heard about Alpine Linux before, let me give you a brief introduction.

Alpine Linux began as a fork of the LEAF Project. LEAF is a collection of Linux distributions that began as a fork of the Linux Router Project. The creator of Alpine Linux is Natanael Copa, a software engineer at Docker.

It is based on musl libc and busybox, making it a smaller and resource-efficient distribution. Alpine uses its own package manager called APK (Alpine Linux Package Manager) and uses BusyBox Bash as the default shell. Most importantly, includes proactive security features like PaX and SSP to prevent security holes.

What makes it unique, is its small size. Compared to other major Linux distributions like CentOS and Ubuntu, a single container requires only 8 MB, and minimal installation to disk requires around 130 MB of Storage. This makes it a popular Linux distribution for Docker.

You can also check out our list of lightweight distributions and security-oriented distributions to explore more options.

Recently, Alpine Linux released version 3.13 with their first official cloud images and several improvements. I’ll highlight more about it here.

Overview: What’s New?

Here is an overview of the new features and packages.

With this release, they introduced their first official Cloud images that currently supports Amazon AWS EC2. Upcoming versions might bring support for more cloud hosting services. Alpine Linux version 3.13 is also introducing ifupdown-ng as a replacement for busybox ifupdown.

Secondly, PHP 8.0 with a common set of extensions is now available in Alpine Linux, even though PHP 7.4 remains the default. With this version, Node.js(LTS) is compiled with -O2 instead of -Os bringing improved performance. Besides that, notable changes include improved Wi-Fi support in setup scripts and initial support for cloud-init.

Important Updates and Changes

The new version also comes with some major upgrades.

You’ll find Linux Kernel 5.10.7 with this version. Also, musl has been upgraded to version 1.2.

Not just limited to that, licensing issues resulted in the deprecation of Berkeley DB as well.

Busybox was bumped up to version 1.32.1. Some packages including hdparm, fdformat, and readprofile were removed. In addition, xorg-server and related packages have been moved from the main to the community.

Other important updates include GCC 10.2.1, Nextcloud 20.0.4, QEMU 5.2.0, and more.

You can find the full list of changes in their official blog post, and to get started, you can download the latest version from the official website.

Concluding Thoughts

Since this version introduces official cloud images, you can expect to see Alpine Linux bringing support for more cloud hosting services in future versions. Above all, the main aspects of this distribution are security and efficiency.

Alpine Linux is mainly for power users who want a simple, lightweight, and efficient distribution for development.

Have you used Alpine Linux before? What do you think about this new version? Let me know in the comments below.


Arish V

An Open-source enthusiast and proud Linux user pursuing a degree in Law. Self-taught web designer and loves Linguistics.