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Alpaquita vs Alpine: a head-to-head comparison

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Nov 10, 2022
Dmitry Chuyko

You need a lightweight Linux distribution if you want to drastically reduce the size of your containers. You might have already done your research and narrowed the choice down to Alpine and Alpaquita Linux. Both are incredibly small, performant, and secure. But there are certain differences that may influence your decision. Find a clear and concise comparison of both Linux distributions below.

Differences between Alpaquita and Alpine

Developer

Alpaquita

Alpine

BellSoft

Alpine Linux development team

Alpine Linux was first introduced in 2005 and has been developed within the Alpine Linux project as a non-commercial OS since then. The idea behind Alpine was to create a lightweight, simple and secure Linux distribution to be used within containers together with server and cloud applications.

Alpaquita Linux enhances and evolves the way this task is executed. Alpaquita was developed by BellSoft, a leading OpenJDK contributor, and introduced in 2022. BellSoft engineers have always appreciated Alpine for its size and performance, so in 2020 they created the smallest containers on the market at that time with Alpine and Liberica Lite

Alpaquita Linux was designed to be just as small as Alpine, and also to include features for enhanced performance and security, packages for Java development, and commercial support. Thus, Alpaquita became the only OS with Alpine’s features that lacks its disadvantages and is fit for enterprise cloud apps. 

Software licensing

Alpaquita

Alpine

EULA

GPL2 mostly

MIT for musl
Various licenses for software components

Alpine Linux is built around the Linux kernel, which is distributed under the GPL license. Core utilities such as Busybox and apk-tools are also distributed under GPLv2, whereas musl is subject to the MIT license. As with any open-source technology, Alpine Linux contains packages under various licenses: a more detailed package license information can be found here.

Alpaquita Linux is distributed under EULA (End-user license agreement). It means that we have verified all the packages regarding clean licenses and substituted some software to eliminate the risk of license violation. Therefore, Alpaquita is legally safe to use in enterprises and an unexpected license change is not an issue you have to worry about.

Release cycle

Alpaquita

Alpine

LTS releases aligned with Linux Kernel LTS

Rolling releases of Alpaquita Stream

Rolling release (Alpine Edge)

Stable releases each May and November

The Alpine Linux team provides two types of releases: edge and stable. Edge is a rolling release with the latest packages and updates. Stable releases see the light each May and November and are usually supported for two years.

Alpaquita Linux has Stream and LTS versions. Alpaquita Stream is similar to Alpine Edge, with the freshest improvements and updates. LTS releases are stable versions supported for four years with two-years overlap with the previous version.

Both Alpine and Alpaquita receive security patches as soon as they become available.

Support

Alpaquita

Alpine

Community support for Alpaquita Stream
Commercial support for LTS releases

Community support only

Alpine Linux is a free, non-commercial distribution. Community members work together to provide enhancements, fixes, and security patches as soon as possible. In addition, anybody can participate in the process of Alpine improvement. But to report a bug, a user can open a new issue on a bugtracker or email the team directly, and there is no fixed timeline for issue resolution.

Commercial Linux support is extremely important for enterprises working in the cloud or server environment. Therefore, LTS releases of Alpaquita come with commercial support from BellSoft, with 24/7 service, security advisory, and prompt fixes based on SLA. In addition, BellSoft provides Alpaquita Cloud Native Platform — a solution with Alpaquita, a unified Java runtime Liberica Lite, and Liberica Native Image Kit for native images generation, with support for Linux and Java from one vendor. This way, you can unify the technology stack, minimize the number of vendors, and keep your software secure and performant at all times.

Discover Alpaquita Cloud Native Platform

C library implementation

Alpaquita

Alpine

musl def

musl perf

glibc

musl def

One of the reasons Alpine Linux is so lightweight is the C library implementation it utilizes — musl. musl has certain benefits over a more popular glibc: it has a cleaner code base, smaller overhead and attack surface. Differences between musl and glibc performance are usually negligible, although musl can demonstrate inferior results in some cases. In addition, migration to another libc is complicated and associated with compatibility issues.

Alpaquita Linux comes in two flavors. One is based on musl perf — an optimized musl created by BellSoft engineers with impressive performance characteristics: it outran musl def and even glibc in a series of benchmarks. The second Alpaquita version is based on glibc and is optimal for companies who want to take advantage of microcontainers and avoid migration issues.

We also added several features to boost Alpaquita’s performance even more — find out more in the corresponding article.

Platform compatibility

Alpaquita

Alpine

x86_64

x86

x86_64

ARMhf

ARMv7

AArch64

ppc64le

s390x

Alpine Linux supports a wide variety of CPU architectures, including the most popular x86 and x86_64 (AMD64) and non-x86 architectures, such as ARM or PowerPC. As far as Docker images are concerned, Alpine is available only as a base image without additional tools.

Alpaquita Linux currently supports x86_64 only. The support for other architectures will be gradually added in the following releases. At the same time, we deliver a wide variety of Alpaquita Docker images, including containers with Liberica JDK, Liberica NIK, and images for GCC and Python.

Visit BellSoft’s Docker Hub repositories

Conclusion

Both Alpine and Alpaquita are minimalistic, performant, and secure. If you want to have a free lightweight distribution and receive help from the community, Alpine is an optimal choice. But if you would like to

  • Increase the performance of your applications
  • Receive prompt support from the vendor
  • Be sure of 100% license compliance
  • Utilize optimized musl or glibc

Take a closer look at BellSoft’s Linux. No need to take our word for it — give it a ride and see for yourself the beauty that is Alpaquita!

Discover Alpaquita

Further reading

Not sure whether you need commercial support for Linux? Read more about the value of Linux Cloud/Server support

Want to know more about Alpaquita Linux? Take a look at the overview of Alpaquita’s distinctive features

Curious to see which Linux distro for server or cloud is the most performant? Discover the results of a comparative performance study of popular Linux distributions

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Alpaquita vs Alpine: a head-to-head comparison
figure
Nov 10, 2022
Dmitry Chuyko
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