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CentOS vs Ubuntu: 15 Factors that Differentiate Them

Approx. read time : 6 min

Let the battle start!

In this article, we will be checking the key differences between CentOS and Ubuntu in a web hosting environment.

Even if this isn’t a complete comprehensive analysis of each aspect of the several in-depth features of each operating system, this will surely offer a solid summary that will enable to select which system is highly suitable for your requirements. Let’s start!

Ubuntu

In Wikipedia, Ubuntu is defined as below:

“Ubuntu is a free and open-source Linux distribution (that’s) based on Debian. Ubuntu is officially released in three variants: Desktop, Server, and Core: (for the internet of things devices and robots). All the editions can run on a standalone computer, or in Windows. Ubuntu is a popular operating system for cloud computing, with support for OpenStack. Ubuntu is released every six months, with(LTvarientsS) long-term support releases every two years. The latest release is (“Disco Dingo”) version 19.04 , and the most recent long-term support release is(“Bionic Beaver”) 18.04 LTS , which is supported until 2023 under public support and, until 2028 as a paid option.”

CentOS

In Wikipedia, CentOS is defined as below:

“CentOS (from Community Enterprise Operating System) is a Linux distribution that provides a free, community-supported, enterprise-class, computing platform compatible with its upstream source, (RHEL) or Red Hat Enterprise Linux. In January 2014, CentOS announced the official affiliation with Red Hat while staying independent fromRed Hat Enterprise Linux, under a new CentOS governing board. The first CentOS was released in May 2004, (and numbered as CentOS version 2), was forked from Redhat (RHEL) version 2.1AS… (The) building of CentOS 8 commenced as of May 2019.”

Comparison

Features Ubuntu CentOS
System CoreBased on DebianBased on Redhat
Update CycleOftenDeliberately Infrequent
SecurityGood (but needs additional configuration)Strong
Support ConsiderationsExcellent documentation and support communityGood documentation. Small but active user community.
Platform Focal PointGeared more towards the desktop userGeared towards the server market and preferred by larger corporations
ManageabilityModerateChallenging
File StructureBoth use the same basic file/folder structure but,
system services will differ in location
Both use the same basic file/folder structure but,
system services will differ in location
Package Managementapt-get, aptitudeYUM
Cloud InterfaceOpenStackOpenStack, OpenNebula, CloudStack
VirtualizationKVM, XenNative KVM Support
Ease of UseModerateDifficult
Speed ConsiderationsExcellent (depends on HW used)Excellent (depends on HW used)
Hosting Market Share37.8% (7/19)17.3% (7/19)
Default applicationsFrequently UpdatedInfrequent Updates (only as required)
StabilityGoodHigh

Pros & Cons

Hosting

Today (as of 7/2019), Ubuntu, Debian, and CentOS are the prime operating systems that are utilized in the hosting market. Many might be using the Ubuntu server OS tied to smaller private servers that are running SMB’s type sites/servers. But, the pure volume of servers that use Ubuntu indicate the growing acceptance of Ubuntu as a primary OS in the web hosting sphere.

In case you want to use a control panel to manage your web hosting services, you should closely check CentOS, as it is highly compatible with different management panels that you may require. Web hosting control panels like cPanel, Webmin and DIrectAdmin have always been focused on CentOS and other RedHat based operating systems. It’s a bad luck that Ubuntu does not support cPanel but does have quite a few alternatives, such as Webmin/Virtualmin and VestaCP.

CentOS is also developed to be very stable and secure but due to this, many of the core systems might run older, more mature software versions with security updates that are backported from Redhat as required. CentOS is also the best choice for medium-large sized businesses and, websites that need cPanel. Though the CentOS user base is smaller than Ubuntu, CentOS still comprises of an online community and also provides premium support options if you want.

The Cloud

Ubuntu server supports container virtualizations as well as cloud deployment in a very good manner and this shows its influence in the market as compared to CentOS. Since June 2019, “Canonical announced full enterprise support for Kubernetes 1.15 kubeadm deployments, its Charmed Kubernetes, and MicroK8s; the popular single-node deployment of Kubernetes.” CentOS offers three private cloud choices and a public cloud platform through AWS.

Additionally, a mature platform in this area and excellent documentation is also offered by CentOS. The below chart recognizes the complete usage of cloud-based preferences as of June 2019 via EC2 Statistics compiled from Amazon.

Gaming

You will get the comparisons of different OS offered by Steam on their gaming platforms that indicate that there are highest numbers of users that run Ubuntu on their systems. Currently, more than 30% percent of all Steam users run on Ubuntu, followed by 49% of other different Linux distros. Though gaming on Linux does not completely relate to the hosting industry but, it surely shows how widely Ubuntu is accepted and used across multiple sectors.

Web Hosting

If you are just beginning your hosting journey, it’s recommended to go with Ubuntu just because of its larger community supported user base, the wide collection of tutorials and documentation available and, frequently released updates help you in maintaining the latest software. Ubuntu too has some advantages in this space as well but, there are some situations where you may need to switch to an older software version as updates may cause problems with existing sites. In addition, if you have used an Ubuntu desktop in the past, you will find it easy to learn when starting with an Ubuntu based VPS server.

Since Ubuntu updates are released more often as compared CentOS, it does not significant indicate that CentOS is less stable or secure. Such ongoing modifications can be obtained at a cost even particularly if a newer software version of a core Ubuntu system is updated, it might affect the existing websites that might depend on the older software version which in turn may affect functionality and/or stability. Also when it comes to security, Ubuntu forces the use of sudo at first as the main user and, then disables the root user by default. This restricts the opportunity of running commands that might be harmful to the system.

No doubt, CentOS is a solid, viable choice but, it might provide a difficult learning curve when you are starting out newly with Linux hosting. While running a business, CentOS may be the better choice than Ubuntu because, it’s (arguably) highly secure and stable, due to the reserved nature and the lower frequency of its updates. Moreover, CentOS also offers support for cPanel which Ubuntu doesn’t offer.

Though Centos is stable and secure, but due to this, many services that run on the server are likely to be older versions with backported security fixes applied. Also, if CentOS freezes a version number, it won’t provide further improvements except for security updates and major bug fixes. This is a positive sign in terms of stability and security but, this can be negative for services like PHP or MySQL, or other standard software used by the server and those are getting developed rapidly and might enhance in the next few years. One simple solution to this is to simply add extra software mirrors for resolving this type of issue.

Once you check these options, it truly describes the purpose of the server, the way it is going to be utilized for each OS, the size of your business and, your technical knowledge. For small businesses and newbies to hosting, Ubuntu is the secure choice. This is because it has a big user community base, the maximum amount of resources available online, tutorials and their online forums, including a significant community of open source developers. With this, solutions to the problems can be found as quickly as possible. Lastly, each OS distribution has its pros and cons while selecting the version, ensure it completes all of your business requirements, needs, and demands.

Still having queries about which OS would work best for you? Don’t hesitate to call our support team and learn how you can benefit from these technologies to boost your sales and customer interactions for your business.

Need help? We’re always here for you.