Alpine Linux

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Alpine Linux
Alpine Linux.svg
DeveloperAlpine Linux development team
OS familyLinux
Working stateActive
Source modelOpen source
Latest release3.8.1 / 11 September 2018; 3 months ago (2018-09-11)[1]
Marketing targetDevelopers, power users
Available inMultilingual
Package managerAPK
Platformsx86, x86-64, ARMhf, AArch64, ppc64le, s390x
Kernel typeMonolithic (Linux)
UserlandBusyBox (GNU Core Utilities are optional)
Default user interfaceCommand-line interface

Alpine Linux is a Linux distribution based on musl and BusyBox, primarily designed for "power users who appreciate security, simplicity and resource efficiency".[2][3][4][5][6] It uses a hardened kernel and compiles all user space binaries as position-independent executables with stack-smashing protection.[7]

Because of its small size, it's heavily used in containers providing quick boot up times.[8]

A fork of the distribution, postmarketOS, is designed to run on mobile devices.


Originally, Alpine Linux began as a fork of the LEAF Project.[9] The members of LEAF wanted to continue making a Linux distribution that could fit on a single floppy disk, whereas the Alpine Linux wished to include some more heavyweight packages such as Squid and Samba, as well as additional security features and a newer kernel. One of the original goals was to create a framework for larger systems; although usable for this purpose, this is no longer a primary goal.[citation needed]

Version history[edit]

Version Release date[10][11] End-of-life date[12] Kernel release
Old version, no longer supported: 2.0 2010-08-16 2012-04-01 N/A
Old version, no longer supported: 2.1 2010-11-01 2012-11-01 N/A
Old version, no longer supported: 2.2 2011-05-03 2013-05-01 N/A
Old version, no longer supported: 2.3 2011-11-01 2013-11-01 N/A
Old version, no longer supported: 2.4 2012-05-02 2014-05-01 N/A
Old version, no longer supported: 2.5 2012-11-07 2014-11-01 N/A
Old version, no longer supported: 2.6 2013-05-17 2015-05-01 N/A
Old version, no longer supported: 2.7 2013-11-08 2015-11-01 N/A
Old version, no longer supported: 3.0 2014-06-04 2016-05-01 N/A
Old version, no longer supported: 3.1 2014-12-10 2016-11-01 N/A
Old version, no longer supported: 3.2 2015-05-26 2017-05-01 3.18.xx
Old version, no longer supported: 3.3 2016-01-06 2017-11-01 4.1.xx
Old version, no longer supported: 3.4 2016-05-31 2018-05-01 4.4.xx
Old version, no longer supported: 3.5 2016-12-22 2018-11-01 4.4.xx
Older version, yet still supported: 3.6 2017-05-24 2019-05-01 4.9.xx
Older version, yet still supported: 3.7 2017-11-30 2019-11-01 4.9.xx
Current stable version: 3.8 2018-06-26 4.14.xx
Latest preview version of a future release: edge rolling N/A N/A
Old version
Older version, still supported
Latest version
Latest preview version
Future release


  • Alpine uses its own package management system, apk-tools,[13] which originally was a collection of shell scripts but was later rewritten in C. Alpine currently contains most commonly used packages such as GNOME, Xfce, Firefox, and others.
  • Alpine Linux can be installed as a run-from-RAM operating system. The LBU (Alpine Local Backup)[14] tool optionally allows all configuration files to be backed up to an APK overlay file (usually shortened to apkovl), a tar.gz file that by default stores a copy of all changed files in /etc (with the option to add more directories). This allows Alpine to work reliably in demanding embedded environments or to (temporarily) survive partial disk failures as sometimes experienced in public cloud environments.
  • A hardened kernel is included in the default Alpine Linux kernel, which aids in reducing the impact of exploits and vulnerabilities. All packages are also compiled with stack-smashing protection to help mitigate the effects of userland buffer overflows.
  • Alpine Linux is the only distribution that as a default includes patches that allow using efficient meshed VPNs using the DMVPN standard.
  • Alpine Linux has reliably had excellent support of Xen hypervisors in up-to-date versions, which avoids issues as experienced with Enterprise Distributions. (The standard Linux hypervisor KVM, is also available.)
  • The base system in Alpine Linux is designed to be only 4–5 MB in size (excluding the kernel).[citation needed] This allows very small Linux containers, around 8 MB in size, while a minimal installation to disk might be around 130 MB.[7] The Linux kernel is much larger; the 3.18.16 kernel includes 121 MB of loadable kernel modules (primarily drivers) in addition to the 3.3 MB for the base x86-64 kernel image.[citation needed]
  • Alpine Configuration Framework (ACF): While optional, ACF is an application for configuring an Alpine Linux machine, with goals similar to Debian's debconf. It is a standard framework based on simple Lua scripts.[citation needed]
  • Alpine Linux previously used uClibc as its C standard library instead of the traditional GNU C Library (glibc) most commonly used. Although it is more lightweight, it does have the significant drawback of being binary incompatible with glibc. Thus, all software must be compiled for use with uClibc to work properly. As of April 9, 2014[15], Alpine Linux switched to musl, which is partially binary compatible with glibc.[16]
  • The simple and lightweight OpenRC is the init system currently used by Alpine Linux.[17] Unlike many distributions, including Debian, Ubuntu, RHEL, Arch Linux and CentOS, Alpine does not use systemd.


  1. ^ "Alpine 3.8.1 released". Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  2. ^ Review: Alpine Linux is made for Docker | InfoWorld
  3. ^ Alpine Linux 2 review |
  4. ^ Security-Oriented Alpine Linux 3.7 Has UEFI Support, GRUB Support in Installer, Softpedia News
  5. ^ 10 Most Secure Linux Distros For Complete Privacy & Anonymity | 2017 Edition, FossBytes
  6. ^ Is Docker ditching Ubuntu Linux? Confusion reigns | Network World
  7. ^ a b about | Alpine Linux
  8. ^ Meet Alpine Linux, Docker’s Distribution of Choice for Containers
  9. ^ "linux.leaf.devel - Re: [leaf-devel] 2.6.x kernel support? - msg#00039 - Recent Discussion". Archived from the original on 14 May 2016.
  10. ^ Alpine Linux News archive
  11. ^ Announcements on
  12. ^ Alpine Linux:Releases
  13. ^ "Alpine Linux package management".
  14. ^ "Alpine local backup".
  15. ^ "Release notes". Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  16. ^ "musl FAQ".
  17. ^ "Alpine Linux Init System".

External links[edit]

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