For many people getting started with Linux there’s an important debate to settle about which Linux distribution is best – it’s the battle of CentOS vs Ubuntu, and which one to go for.

Let me save you some time – they are all best… it just depends on which distro is best for what!

Many Linux users get stuck in the eternal loop of trying out new Linux distributions, distro-hopping from one distribution to another like a caffeinated kangaroo, unable to settle on one Linux flavor. If that’s you, then happy hopping!

But if you’re just looking for a good and stable operating system that gives you flexibility and the freedom to do what you want (without asking you for a piece of your soul in exchange for monthly subscriptions and microservices), then you’re in the right place.

In this post, we will take a look at two of the most well-known and renowned Linux distributions that you can find on the internet – CentOS and Ubuntu.

Without spoiling too much! Let’s get started!

What is CentOS?

CentOS (short for Community Enterprise Operating System) was a free and open-source distribution based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) which aimed to provide a stable, reliable, and secure platform for servers and workstations.

It should not be confused with CentOS Stream which serves as the upstream development platform for upcoming RHEL releases.

CentOS Linux is derived from the source code released by RedHat and it was recently discontinued by Red Hat in favor of its paid offering, Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system.

System Requirements for CentOS

CentOS, a popular Linux distribution, has specific system requirements to ensure optimal performance. Here are the key requirements:

  • Architecture: CentOS supports AMD64, Intel 64, and 64-bit ARM systems.
  • Memory: The recommended minimum RAM varies depending on the installation type. For HTTP, HTTPS or FTP network installation, it’s 1.5 GiB.
  • Storage: The minimum available disk space should be 10 GiB.

Recommended: What Are Linux Logs? What Are They & How to Use Them

Advantages of CentOS

There were many Advantages of CentOS over other Linux operating systems:

  1. Free and Open Source: CentOS was available at no cost, and used to come with full source code that can be modified, distributed, or reused under the terms of the GNU General Public License.
  2. Enterprise-Level Stability: It maintained binary compatibility with RHEL, which means software that runs on RHEL can typically run on CentOS without modification – this stability made it a popular choice for business applications.
  3. Community-Supported: While Red Hat offers official support for RHEL, CentOS relies on community support and contributions. This includes updates, security patches, and new features, all of which are provided by a dedicated and skilled community.
  4. Security: CentOS inherits the robust security features of RHEL, including SELinux (Security-Enhanced Linux), which provides various security policies, and a strong defense against vulnerabilities and exploits.
  5. Use Cases: As it was a robust and well-tested operating system, it was widely used in servers, hosting, and workstations where stability and reliability are critical. It’s also favored for development environments due to its compatibility with RHEL.

Disadvantages of CentOS

We have discussed the advantages, now let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of CentOS:

  1. Outdated Packages: CentOS is based on the stable releases of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), which means it often does not have the latest versions of software packages.
  2. Limited Desktop Environment: While CentOS is a robust choice for server environments, it may not be the best option for desktop use. It lacks the variety of desktop environments and user-friendly applications compared to other distributions like Ubuntu or Fedora.
  3. Less Software in Official Repositories: CentOS does not have as extensive software availability in its official repositories compared to other distributions. Users may need to add third-party repositories or compile software from source, which can be complex and time-consuming.
  4. Delayed Security Updates: Although CentOS is known for its stability and long-term support, there can be delays in receiving security updates. This is because updates are first applied to RHEL and then ported to CentOS, which can lead to potential security risks.
  5. Lack of Commercial Support: Unlike RHEL, CentOS does not offer any official commercial support. While there is a community of users who can provide assistance, this may not be sufficient for businesses or users requiring immediate or professional support.

What is Ubuntu?

Ubuntu is a widely used Linux distribution known for its user-friendly interface, regular release cycles, and strong community support. It’s based on the Debian distribution and comes in different editions, including Desktop, Server, and Core (for IoT devices and robots).

Ubuntu is maintained and developed by Canonical Ltd., a British company that invests resources into keeping the operating system secure, updated, and user-friendly. Similar to CentOS, Ubuntu is also considered very stable; however, if you encounter a bug in Ubuntu, you can report it using the ubuntu-bug command. The bug report is logged locally and then uploaded to a central database by a separate program called whoopsie – Canonical uses this data to identify overarching issues and improve the system.

The first official release of Ubuntu was Ubuntu 4.10 (Warty Warthog), which occurred on October 20, 2004. Since then, Ubuntu has followed a predictable release cycle, with new versions every six months.

System Requirements for Ubuntu

Ubuntu is designed to provide a minimalist base that can run on a wide range of hardware, from IoT devices and PC-style platforms to industrial computing. The system requirements are flexible but generally constrained by the following minimum values:

  • Architecture: Ubuntu Core supports various 64-bit architectures and 32-bit Arm, including amd64 (Intel/AMD 64-bit), arm64 (64-bit Arm), armhf (32-bit Arm), and riscv64 (64-bit RISC-V).
  • Memory: The minimum RAM required for Ubuntu Core is 512MB. However, devices with more on-board RAM can take full advantage of Ubuntu Core’s capabilities.
  • Storage: Ubuntu Core requires a minimum storage of 1GB.

If you want to handle your Ubuntu Servers without dealing with technical stuff, take a look at RunCloud Server Management Tool. With RunCloud, you can focus on building apps instead of worrying about server issues – it helps you manage and deploy web applications securely without the hassle.

An image from RunCloud Dashboard, where you can connect any Cloud or VPS Server.

Also Read: How to Install WordPress with Apache on Ubuntu 

Advantages of Ubuntu

If you’re planning to use Ubuntu, there are plenty of good things for you to look forward to:

  1. Desktop and Server Options: Ubuntu offers both desktop and server editions, making it versatile for various use cases. This allows you to run the same software on both your server and desktop, reducing complexities and ensuring consistency across your infrastructure.
  2. Community Support: Sooner or later, you will hit a snag; Ubuntu has a vibrant and active community of users, developers, and enthusiasts who contribute to forums, blogs, and social media, providing help, tips, and solutions.
  3. Software Availability: One of the best things about Ubuntu is that its package repositories contain a vast selection of software applications. You can easily find and install software using package managers like apt or the graphical Ubuntu Software Center.
  4. Long-Term Support: Ubuntu releases special build versions tagged with LTS. These releases are designed for stability, predictability, and extended support. A new release occurs every two years and is supported for five years on the desktop version and ten years on the server version using Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) service. This makes it ideal for large-scale deployments, enterprises, and critical systems where updating frequently is not possible.

Disadvantages of Ubuntu

Let’s take a look at some reasons why you shouldn’t pick Ubuntu:

  1. Privacy Concerns: Some versions of Ubuntu have been criticized for privacy reasons due to the inclusion of Amazon web app.
  2. Frequency of Releases: Ubuntu’s frequent release cycle can be a disadvantage for users who prefer stability over new features. While LTS (Long Term Support) versions are released every two years, non-LTS versions are released every six months and are supported for only nine months.
  3. Less Control Over the System: Compared to other distributions like Arch or Gentoo, Ubuntu does not offer as much control over the system. This can be a disadvantage for advanced users who prefer to customize their operating system at a deeper level.

Suggested Read: How to Find Most Used Disk Space Directories and Files in Linux

Difference Between CentOS vs Ubuntu [With Comparison Table]

OriginCentOS was a free version of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).Ubuntu is based on Debian.
User FriendlinessCentOS was mainly used by server administrators due to its robustness and stability. It’s less user-friendly compared to Ubuntu.Ubuntu is known for its user-friendliness and is often recommended for beginners.
Software UpdatesCentOS had a longer release cycle, providing a more stable platform. It was ideal for servers.Ubuntu has a faster release cycle, providing newer software and features.
System AdministrationCentOS uses YUM (Yellowdog Updater, Modified) as its package management system.Ubuntu uses APT (Advanced Package Tool) for package management.
SecurityCentOS is considered to have strong security, largely due to its enterprise-grade development.Ubuntu also has robust security measures in place and offers easy-to-use security updates.
Under DevelopmentCentOS has reached end of life and new versions or security updates will not be released.Ubuntu is actively being developed and will continue to receive updates.

CentOS was a solid choice for those who need an enterprise-grade operating system without the associated costs, and who can manage without the dedicated commercial support provided by Red Hat for RHEL.

If you were previously using CentOS and are considering an alternative, both Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux are excellent choices.

Rocky Linux aims to be a community-driven, open-source enterprise operating system that is 100% bug-for-bug compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Similarly, AlmaLinux OS fills the gap left by the discontinuation of CentOS Linux stable releases – it is binary compatible with RHEL and has FIPS 140-3 certification, ensuring strong cryptographic security.

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Wrapping Up: CentOS vs Ubuntu – Which Is Better?

CentOS used to be an excellent choice for servers, especially when stability and compatibility with RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) are crucial. Unfortunately, CentOS has been discontinued, which means it won’t receive further updates or security patches.

Ubuntu on the other hand has an active development cycle and is versatile, which makes it suitable for both servers and desktops. Ubuntu releases new versions predictably every six months, with free support for nine months, but you can pick Ubuntu LTS releases to get extended support for large-scale deployments.

If you need an RHEL-compatible Linux distribution, consider Rocky Linux or Alma Linux as alternatives to CentOS. However, if you’re not tied to RHEL compatibility, we recommend using Ubuntu Server with RunCloud to simplify server management and deployment.

RunCloud makes it easy to manage and deploy applications to the web, allowing you to focus on your projects without worrying about server administration.

Sign up for RunCloud today to streamline your server management and deployment tasks!

FAQ on CentOS vs Ubuntu

What is the main difference between Linux and Ubuntu?

Linux refers to the kernel, which is the core component of an operating system – it manages hardware resources, provides essential services, and allows software applications to communicate with the hardware.
Ubuntu Is a complete operating system based on the Linux kernel – it includes not only the kernel but also essential system utilities, libraries, and software applications. Many different operating systems can be built using the same kernel, but one operating system can only have a single kernel.

Is CentOS good for beginners?

CentOS was discontinued, but when it was actively developed it focused on stability and security rather than providing the latest features. As a result, beginners find it less user-friendly compared with other distributions.

CentOS was known for its stability, making it a reliable choice for servers and critical systems, but as it is no longer being developed, new bugs or vulnerabilities will not be patched in the future – which is almost ironic.

What is the difference between CentOS, Ubuntu, and Debian?

CentOS, Ubuntu and Debian are all Linux distributions. To better understand the relationship between them, let’s consider an analogy:
Ubuntu is a friendly kid who plays with everyone on the playground, while Debian can be considered as the parent of Ubuntu who is good friends with all the Ubuntu’s friends. CentOS, on the other hand, can be considered a foreign exchange student who doesn’t speak the same language as either Ubunu or Debian.

Do all Linux OSes use the same commands?

Most Linux distributions share common commands, but there can be variations due to package managers, system configurations, and default utilities.

Can I run CentOS Docker on Ubuntu?

Yes, Docker containers are platform-independent, which means you can run CentOS-based Docker containers on Ubuntu or any other Linux distribution.

Do you need Ubuntu to run Docker?

No, Docker runs on various operating systems, including Ubuntu, Windows, macOS, and many more.