The primary differences in Amazon Linux 2 from its predecessors is the availability of long term support, availability of virtual machine images for on-premises development and testing, systemd service and systems manager (in place of System V init), a newer kernel (4.9) and toolchain (gcc 7.2.1, glibc 2.25, binutils 2.27). Amazon Linux 2 also provides the ability to install software bundles via a novel Extras mechanism.

Note: Amazon Linux 2 2017.12 is a first LTS Candidate of Amazon Linux 2. Customers and community feedback will help shape the official LTS build that will be supported for 5 years.

Due to the inclusion of new components such as systemd in Amazon Linux 2, applications running on Amazon Linux AMI 2017.09 may require changes to run on Amazon Linux 2. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances running Amazon Linux will not be upgradeable to Amazon Linux 2 via a rolling upgrade mechanism. The 2017.09 release of Amazon Machine Images (AMI) for Amazon Linux will be the last release of its Amazon Linux generation. It will continue to be supported for 2 years after the final Amazon Linux 2 LTS build is released. Going forward, Amazon Web Services (AWS) will provide newer versions only for Amazon Linux 2.

Amazon Linux 2 uses the systemd 219 init system to bootstrap userspace and manage system processes.   It is available as /sbin/init and replaces the System V-style init system that was available in the previous generation of Amazon Linux. As a result, initscripts no longer exist in /etc/init.d.   systemctl {start|stop|restart} SERVICE_NAME.service needs to be used in its place.   Additionally, service SERVICE_NAME {start|stop|restart} is compatible with both Amazon Linux AMI and Amazon Linux 2.

Amazon Linux 2 Extras introduces the notion of topics to select software bundles. Each topic contains all the dependencies required for the software to install and function on Amazon Linux 2. The packages associated with topics are consumed via the YellowDog Updater, Modified (YUM) utility for management of RPM packages. The base image of Amazon Linux 2 includes access to repositories that contain stable versions of popular packages.  With the availability of newer software bundles as topics, Extras provides a mechanism to have the latest application software on a stable base of Amazon Linux 2 thereby invalidating the need to compromise between OS stability and software “freshness”.

Usage examples follow:-

List the available topics:
$ amazon-linux-extras

Installing a topic:
$ sudo amazon-linux-extras install <topic name>

$ sudo amazon-linux-extras install rust1

Amazon Linux 2 comes with gcc 7.2.1, glibc 2.25, and binutils 2.27

Amazon Linux 2 ships with Linux kernel 4.9. The xen-blkfront, xen-netfront, elastic network adapter, and NVMe components are modified for enhanced performance on Amazon EC2.

In Amazon Linux 2, /bin, /sbin, /lib, and /lib64 are symlinks to /usr/bin, /usr/sbin, /usr/lib, and /usr/lib64, respectively. Packages that have Requires on specific binaries in /bin, will not resolve. This can be mitigated using the following logic in the shell:

%if 0%{?amzn} == 1
Requires: /bin/grep
Requires: /usr/bin/grep

cloud-init is used in Amazon Linux 2 to handle initialization. The 0.7.9 version of cloud-init is used in Amazon Linux 2.

  1. Amazon Linux 2 LTS Candidate 2017.12 does not come with a GUI based web browser. Both curl and lynx are available and Firefox will be made available via a future update.
  2. Virtual machine images are currently available for VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Oracle VM VirtualBox virtualization solutions for development and testing. We intend to pursue certification for each of these hypervisors for the LTS build.


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