CentOS vs Ubuntu – Which is Best?

Due to a large number of Linux distributions available, it can be difficult to decide which distribution is most suitable for your system. It’s no wonder that there are so many Linux distributions available since Linux is an open-source platform. Anyone who has the necessary skills can participate in the development of the distribution and its building and release phases. Right now, there are over 600 Linux distributions available for servers and desktops.

There are many variations of Linux available, but two main distributions dominate the market: CentOS and Ubuntu. They are both great options for any system, and each comes with its own set of advantages.

We will examine Ubuntu vs CentOS key features to help you choose which distribution to use for your Virtual Private Server in this CentOS vs Ubuntu comparison.

Let’s discuss each of these well-matched competitors’ features and services before we reveal the traits and features that set them apart.

A Brief Introduction To CentOS

The CentOS operating system is a distribution of Linux that provides a free and community-supported computing environment that is functionally compatible with the upstream source code (Red Hat Enterprise Linux).

After establishing a new governing board, CentOS published an official joining with Red Hat while remaining independent through RHEL.

Known as version 2 CentOS at the time, the first release of CentOS was in 2004 May.

  • It was forked through the 2.1AS version of RHEL. POWER8, ARM64, and x86-64 architectures are officially supported by CentOS since version 8.
  • In addition, up to six versions are compatible with the architecture of IA-32. By December 2015, CentOS AltArch releases are available for Power ISA, the IA-32 architecture, and the AArch64 and ARMv7HL variants of the architecture of ARM.
  • The eighth version of CentOS was published on September 24, 2019.
  • As of December 2020, Red Hat unilaterally decided to stop the development of CentOS. 
  • Nonetheless, Red Hat will continue supporting the corresponding rolling-release distro (CentOS Stream).
  • Rocky Linux was created as a successor project to the original CentOS effort by Gregory Kurtzer (founder of CentOS).
  • AlmaLinux 2021, a new version of Cloud Linux’s OS called CloudLinux, is an RHEL derivative that Cloud Linux published on March 30.

The History Of CentOS

Originally, CentOS was created in 2002 as the CAOS Linux build that is an RPM-based distribution of Linux began by Gregory Kurtzer. By defining its GravityOS as the small footprint of Caos, Innfiscale is expressing a certain influence level achieved through the discontinued distribution. 

As of June 2006, David Parsley, the main developer of Tao Linux, announced that Tao Linux would be retired and incorporated into the development of CentOS. Tao users migrated the release of CentOS using yum update.

While Debian became the most popular distribution of Linux for several web servers in July 2010 and accounted for 30% of the web servers running Linux, CentOS ignored the trend. However, Debian regained the lead a year later in January 2012.

In a meeting with the community on December 8, an employee of Red Hat and a member of the CentOS governing board announced that the community will shift from classical Linux to CentOS Stream in 2020.

Despite this announcement, the response from the starting community was overwhelmingly negative. 

Following this announcement, the founder of CentOS (Gregory Kurtzer) announced a newer project for continuing the actual focus of CentOS known as Rocky Linux. In March of this year, CloudLinux OS makers (Cloud Linux) released the eight clones of CentOS called AlmaLinux.

There Are A Number Of Interest Groups For CentOS

In CentOS, Special Interest Groups are an organized part of the community that provides several avenues to build specialized CentOS variants that meet a particular set of requirements.

With SIGs, CentOS can be modified and enhanced in numerous ways, including concatenating much cutting-edge software, creating alternative desktop platforms, recreating existing packages based on needs, or enabling CentOS to be run on unsupported architectures.

Overview of the CentOS architecture

As of version 8 of CentOS, all 64-bit architectures such as ARM, POWER8, and x86-64 are supported. The following architectures are not supported:

  • The physical address extension (PAE) is no longer supported in the IA-32 version since CentOS 6
  • Since version 7 of CentOS, IA-32 is not supported in any variant
  • During CentOS versions 3 and 4 IA-64 (the Intel Itanium architecture) was supported
  • There was a beta version of CentOS 4 that offered 32-bit PowerPC (PowerPC and Apple Macintosh executing the G4 and G3 PowerPC processors) support.
  • It has not been supported since CentOS version 5 for IBM Mainframe (S/390 and eServer zSeries).
  • The Alpha support was added in version 4 of CentOS.
  • Version 4 of CentOS included beta support for SPARC

There are CentOS AltArch releases available for the AArch64 and ARMv7hl variants of the ARM architecture and there are plans to support a variety of other ARM architecture variants as of December 2015.

As part of the AltArch SIG, the CentOS AltArch releases are supported and distributed. As well as ISA and IA-32 platforms, CentOS AltArch releases are also available for Power 8 or Power 7 processors.

You can download the CentOS Live CD version from mirror.centos.org. It is possible either manually or by using UNetbootin to create CentOS bootable Live USM images.

There are CentOS images available on the EC2 cloud of Amazon in the form of Amazon Machine Images (short for AMI) that are prebuilt and published.

An overview of CentOS design

As a non-production platform from which access to various levels of technical support is provided by varying levels of subscription service in RHEL, RHEL is available only for development and by way of a paid subscription service.

Generally, the project consists of a number of packages of software that share source code and free software licenses. They are made available to the public by Red Hat as an open-source project.

  • It’s no different from Red Hat’s RHEL that CentOS developers use for creating their end products.
  • Red Hat’s logos and bracing have been modified since the company does not permit them to be redistributed.
  • In most cases, technical support is provided by an online community through mailing lists, chat rooms, and web forums.
  • In this project, Red Hat is referred to as an umbrella organization but the project is open, free, inclusive, and public.
  • Those associated with Red Hat make up the majority of CentOS’ core developers.
  • This project relies heavily on donations from corporate sponsors and users alike.

Linux releases for CentOS

The version numbers for CentOS releases older than 7.0 consist of two parts:

  • The Minor version
  • The Major version

For example, the minor version relates to the major version and the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) update set which is used for constructing a particular CentOS release.

Starting with CentOS 7.0, the version numbers of the operating system also contain a third party’s month stamp representing the source code’s release date.

  • Starting with version 4.4 of RHEL and since mid-2006, which is officially known as Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.0 Update 4.
  • In order to conform to the CentOS version naming convention (for example, RHEL 6.5 or RHEL 4.5), Red Hat has taken the same approach as CentOS.
  • After a generation change from 7. x to 8. x, CentOS deferred work on 8.1 for the 7.7 version of CentOS on 10 September 2019. CentOS was in generations 7 and 8. x was not in generation 7.
  • Resource usage returned to the old version of CentOS after the 7.7 version was published.
  • According to CentOS, the 8.0 version of CentOS was released on 24 September 2019.

There are several CentOS repositories

There are three main channels in CentOS, which are called repositories. The repositories in this network contain various packages of software that are essential to the distribution of CentOS. A list of the repositories and what each one contains is as follows:

  • The Base repository – The point repository contains packages that design releases of points, and it gets updated when a particular point release is made available formally within the form of ISO images.
  • The Update repository – There are various packages in this repository that handle enhancements, bug fixes, and security updates that are issued alongside regular bulletins for the release of points. As a result, enhancements and bug fixes published in this format are unsuitable for publication in the CentOS-Fasttrack repository as specified below.
  • The Addons repository – This package provides several packages that are needed to build the packages that makeup CentOS. Nevertheless, upstream does not provide these packages or components.

Besides the updates and base repositories, CentOS has many other repositories that include software packages not present in the update and base repositories. Here are some of the packages that are in these repositories:

  • The CentOS Extras repository: It includes packages that facilitate other CentOS functionalities without compromising compatibility with out-of-date components or upstream packages.
  • The CentOSPlus repository: As part of the package, upgrades are added to various components of base CentOS, which is why the package isn’t directly comparable to the upstream provider’s content.
  • The CentOS-Testing repository: In many cases, it serves as a valid ground for packages on their path to CentOS Extras and CentOSPlus. There is no guarantee that offered packages will replace the core packages for CentOS or that they will perform exactly as they should.
  • The CentOS-Fasttrack repository: The update package includes both enhancements and bug fixes issued regularly with updates for many point releases. There have been various packages that have published this from Sir as the close candidates for inclusion in the upcoming pointless release. A point does not provide security updates and does not include packages that are uncertainly useful for future releases.
  • The CR (Continuous Release) repository: In general, it gets rid of existing packages that will appear within the next CentOS point release. As a test and hotfix package, they have existed until the original point release has been published in the ISO images form.
  • The debuginfo repository: This package includes packages created by debugging symbols generated during the creation of the primary packages.
  • The contrib repository: Packages that are contributed by users of CentOS that don’t overlap with the ones in the core distribution are included. 
  • The Software Collections repository: This distribution provides software versions that are newer than those contained in the distribution of the base.

A CentOS-based stream

Linux distribution that runs midstream between the development of upstream within Fedora and the development of downstream within RHEL.

A brief introduction to Ubuntu

A Linux distribution based on Debian, Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution. Open sources and free software are used mainly in Ubuntu. Linux distribution Ubuntu is available in three different editions which are as follows:

  • Robots and Internet of Things devices are based on this core
  • The Server
  • The Desktop

In each of these additions, the application can be run within a virtual machine or on the computer alone. With OpenStack support, Ubuntu is one of the most popular operating systems for cloud computing. From Ubuntu 17.10 onwards, GNOME has been the default desktop.

Releases of Ubuntu are scheduled every six months, along with LTS updates every two years. According to Focal Fossa (20.04) as of October 22nd, 2020, this release represents the latest LTS release. It is the Groovy Gorilla (20.10) which is the current standard publication. There is a nine-month support period for it.

Canonical and a group of other developers have brought together to develop this distribution. A meritocratic governance model is incorporated into this distribution. As part of Ubuntu’s maintenance and support program, Canonical offers security updates and support through the date of publication and until the end of the development of the particular release. Canonical makes money from the premium services and products associated with Ubuntu.

Some of the features of Ubuntu

  1. It is the default installation – In Ubuntu’s default installation, there is a large selection of software, including Firefox, Transmission, Thunderbird, LibreOffice, and several games (lightweight) like chess and Sudoku.
  1. The packages – Several additional packages of software can be accessed using the Ubuntu package manager (built-in) and other tools for APT-based package management.

Several packages of software are by default not installed within the repository, like Synaptic, GIMP, Pidgin, and Evolution. These software packages are authorized within the repository and can be installed manually using the primary tool or any other distribution management tool built on the APT framework.

  1. Packages such as flatpaks and snaps – Additionally, there are flatpaks and snap packages that are cross-distribution. As a result, both packages allow you to install software, including some software from Microsoft, on most of the large Linux operating systems. 

File management is handled by GNOME File Manager (formerly called Nautilus).

  1. Expenses – Each application software program installed comes with a free license. Additionally, Ubuntu distributes several hardware drivers that are in binary format only; however, these types of packages are directly marked inside restrained components.

There are many varieties of Ubuntu

The Ubuntu desktop is the variant that is officially recommended for most users. The variant is commonly called Ubuntu and is formally known as Ubuntu Desktop Edition. Ubuntu has been developed for desktops and laptop computers, and Canonical has officially supported it. Version 17.10 of Ubuntu comes with the GNOME shell as the default desktop environment.

Ubuntu version 11.04 through Ubuntu 17.04 were based on the Unity desktop interface. Differentiating variants by merely providing a different desktop environment is another way to differentiate.

It is common to suggest installing Xfce and LXqt on older PCs that may have less processing power and memory available.

The official distributions

Ubuntu comes in several flavors and editions that simply install a unique set of default packages than the standard Ubuntu desktop. There is a similar set of software available for each of them since they all distribute similar package repositories. 

Only the Snap store can be accessed by the Ubuntu Core because the latter has access to packages within it.

The following are some of the major distributions and their descriptions:

  • The Lubuntu Distribution: This Linux distribution is energy-efficient, less resource-hungry, and more lightweight compared to Ubuntu. LXqt is used as the desktop environment (LXDE was used before version 18.10).
  • The Kubuntu Distribution: There is an Ubuntu desktop application called Unity, but the KDE interface is used instead of Unity and GNOME.
  • The Xubuntu Distribution: Xfce is a Linux desktop environment based on Ubuntu. This flavor is designed for use on less powerful systems or on users who prefer to use GTK+ applications on faster systems. It utilizes a highly capable desktop environment on faster systems.
  • The Ubuntu Core Distribution: This is an edition of Ubuntu that focuses on embedded systems and the Internet of Things. While it does not employ the package manager of traditional apt like various other variants, it entirely relies on the Snap packages.
  • The Ubuntu Kylin Distribution: Chinese Ubuntu is a version of Ubuntu that focuses on the Chinese market. 
  • The Ubuntu Budgie Distribution: It is a flavor of Ubuntu that uses Budgie.
  • The Ubuntu MATE Distribution: A fork of Ubuntu, MATE is a desktop platform derived from the code base of the now defunct GNOME 2 desktop platform. The desktop metaphor forms the basis for Ubuntu.
  • The Ubuntu Server Distribution: The Ubuntu Desktop Edition includes a server edition that uses APT repositories similar to the server edition.  The main differences between them are the absence of an X Window environment in the default installation of a server edition (however, other X Window environments can be installed easily including KDE, GNOME, Xfce, or Unity) and some alterations to the installation process.
  • The Ubuntu Studio Distribution: The Ubuntu Studio software is based on the Ubuntu operating system. It facilitates the creation of multimedia aimed at the graphic, video, and audio editors through open-source applications.

Among CentOS and Ubuntu, there are some differences

1.Core components of a systemThis is a Red Hat-based platform.This is a Red Debian platform.
2.Cycle of updatesIn CentOS, the update cycle is deliberately infrequent.It is common for Ubuntu to update frequently.
3.A Consideration for SupportA good amount of documentation is available for CentOS. There is, however, a small amount of documentation, but it is supported by a vibrant community.In addition to having a great support community, Ubuntu also has excellent documentation.
4.ProtectionAs a result of CentOS’ strong security, it is very difficult to be hacked.Ubuntu’s security features are good but require additional configuration.
5.Ability to manageManaging it can be challenging.It has a moderate degree of manageability.
6.A focal point for the platformThis focal point is preferred by major corporations and is designed for the server market.Platform focal points are geared towards desktop users.
7.Management of packagesIt uses the YUM package manager.The package manager uses apt-get to install packages.
8.Structure of the fileThe folders and files were arranged in a basic manner. System services, however, are located in a different location.The folders and files were arranged in a basic manner. System services, however, are located in a different location.
9.A virtualization systemFor virtualization, it has native support for KVM.It provides Xen as well as KVM for virtualization.
10.Interface with the CloudIt uses several cloud computing interfaces, including CloudStack, OpenNebula, and OpenStack.The system uses the OpenStack cloud interfaces.
11.Considerations for speedThere is excellent speed (depending on how the hardware is used).Depending on how well the hardware is used, it has a high speed as well.
12.The ease of useIt is a bit complicated to use.It is simple and easy to use.
13.Applications by defaultUpdates are infrequent (only when necessary).Regular updates are made to this site.
14.Market share of hosting services17.3 percent of the hosting market belongs to it.The company holds a 37.8% share of the hosting market.
15.The usersThe developer community and user community are smaller.There is a larger developer and user community for it.
16.The stabilityThe stability of CentOS is excellent.The stability of Ubuntu is good.
17.Guidance and assistanceCentOS offers less help and guidance than other operating systems.Ubuntu offers a greater variety of free guides and tutorials to assist you in your installation.

The pros and cons of Ubuntu and CentOS are as follows:

Distribution of LinuxAdvantageDisadvantage
The Ubuntu DistributionKnown as an open-source, free Linux distribution, Ubuntu is available to anyone for free.

Because it does not come pre-installed on newer PCs, Ubuntu must be installed separately.
It has broad community support and also offers extensive tutorials from the viewpoint of users.
Sometimes the Ubuntu system becomes more vulnerable to web threats as a result of frequent updates.
In Ubuntu, there are many features that are designed to meet the needs of the end-users regarding storage management and driver allocation.
In addition, there is limited hardware support, which raises many questions in the minds of end-users.
Furthermore, the device is compatible with external drives, external storage, and USB ports.
In some cases, the hardware faults make the system unstable.
The company provides the end-users with a lot of pre-installed software in order to make their experience better.
The CentOs DistributionRHEL, is a well-known open-source operating system. There are three versions of Windows that can be used for up to ten years and every version receives security updates for seven to ten years.  
When compared to its support for entertainment and gaming, CentOS lacks compatibility.
Based on the Linux framework, CentOS is an operating system.
As other Linux distros are more user-friendly, it is not as user-friendly.
When it comes to enterprise workloads, it is dependable.
The technical support provided by it is less than that of Ubuntu.
Cyber threats are less likely to be encountered.
It tends not to be very helpful when it comes to managing storage space and creating drives.
Additionally, it provides administrative support. It also gives support to the system.

Here are a few more comparisons between Ubuntu vs CentOS

The following are some further comparisons between CentOS and Ubuntu:

  1. Comparison of support services

Developed by Canonical, the Ubuntu operating system is based on Linux. We can purchase support contracts for the operating system.

The official backing for CentOS is lacking. Nonetheless, there are third parties that offer CentOS support, such as OpenLogic. Each of these operating systems can be downloaded for free. Support on top of that is an additional service that could be bought.

  1. Comparison of servers

The CentOS operating system is commonly used for servers around the Internet. Amazon also uses RHEL/CentOS in its Linux operating system. Moreover, Ubuntu is more often used on desktops than RHEL/CentOS.

  1. Comparison of security measures

Operating systems such as CentOS are frequently updated. Security and bug fixes are distributed with all major versions of the operating system.

According to RHEL’s release schedule, major versions are supported for 10 years after they are released. This is based on comprehensive testing in each release.

A new version of Ubuntu is released approximately every six months. 

It is supported by the Ubuntu team for a period of five years. In so doing, new software and more recent software contribute to software being more recent. However, the stability of this software might change.

  1. Comparison of packaging

Using RPM as the package format, CentOS distributes its software. RPM is a package management program. YUM, which is a front-end resource for managing network dependencies, repositories, and other procedures, was developed to help manage these processes.

In Ubuntu, packages are distributed using the DEB format. It uses an interface known as apt for managing DEB packages similarly to how DNF/yum layers over the top of rpm. Each of these tools helps manage the interactions among packages while allowing us to just apply the one tool for all the necessary tasks.

It may also be possible for all distributions to have varying package availability. It is possible for some vendors to simply offer packages for CentOS/RHEL or Ubuntu. The software may have a different name and might be managed differently. The methods and tools for managing software with naming conventions may differ among different distributions.

Ubuntu uses apache2 as the webserver and uses custom scripts to manage virtual websites and hosts. Further, on CentOS, it is called httpd and it manipulates configuration in a different way.

  1. Comparison of systems

The Ubuntu and CentOS operating systems are both Linux. That means these two operating systems share the same core. However, there is some difference in the management tools between them.

As an example, network interface management is implemented with tools such as ifconfig, IP, etc. Both of these distributions have come up with helper programs to facilitate the manipulation of those interfaces.

They are, however, distinct in terms of how they perform those tasks. Consequently, there are a few distribution details that cannot be easily transferred between the CentOS vs Ubuntu.

  1. Services for web hosting

Operating systems commonly used by Web Hosting providers include Ubuntu, Debian, and CentOS. Despite statistics showing that Ubuntu servers are used in hosting services mostly by small and medium-sized businesses, there is still a catch.

Servers running Ubuntu-Server have shown the dominance of Ubuntu Servers in the hosting market due to the large volume of servers using them. 

It would be a wise decision if you were to use CentOS as a control panel for your web hosting services. It comes with a number of different management panels necessary for managing your website. The three include cPanel, Webmin, and DirectAdmin. For RedHat platforms such as CentOS, these control panels are only available.

The Ubuntu operating system does not support cPanel, but instead provides alternatives like Webmin/Virtualmin and VestCP. 

Linux updates on CentOS are generally less frequent than in Ubuntu. The stability of this system comes from this feature, but it also has some challenges. Many of the systems relied on older software packages. To upgrade, you will need to manually download the latest software packages. If you want to use cPanel for web hosting or are running a medium-sized business, CentOS would be an appropriate choice.

In spite of CentOS having a smaller user base than Ubuntu, it still maintains a strong online community and provides premium services options in the event that you desire them.

  1. Servers for gaming

With Ubuntu, there is a game pack specifically designed for gamers called Ubuntu GamePack. Unlike its competitors, Ubuntu GamePack comes with PlayOnLinux, Wine, Lutris, and the Steam client, but not games. This platform enables the player to play games for Windows, Linux, Consoles, and Steam.

As part of the Ubuntu GamePack, Adobe Flash and Oracle Java are also supported. Using it for online gaming offers users a fantastic experience. The Ubuntu GamePack applications are optimized to run thousands of Windows and Linux games. Ubuntu Desktop is a perfect gaming choice for Ubuntu users that have worked with the operating system.

CentOS has not been optimized to run gaming services as well as Ubuntu. In any case, if you prefer to work with CentOS and still experience the gaming sensation, you should try Fedora Games Spin. A Fedora-based platform that offers gaming functionality for CentOS, RHEL, and Fedora users. Fedora Games Spin includes over two thousand games for Linux, which comes packaged with the XFCE desktop environment.

Recommendation: CentOS vs Ubuntu

Each of these Linux distributions is open source and can be downloaded for free. It is your choice whether to operate your system with one of the two distributions, depending on your requirements and preferences.

  • You will likely benefit more from Ubuntu if you are a newbie because of its large community, its vast library of free tutorials, and more frequent updates. Moreover, if you have used the Ubuntu desktop before, there will not be much of a learning curve when you start with an Ubuntu VPS server. While CentOS can also be a good option, if you are a beginner this may present some learning challenges as well.
  • The reason why CentOS is better suited for businesses is that it has a lower update frequency than Ubuntu, which makes it more secure and stable. Although Ubuntu has its benefits, there is the possibility that an update may be buggy and you will have to roll back to a previous version. As an added advantage, CentOS comes with cPanel support, whereas Ubuntu doesn’t.

It’s really about your personal preferences that ultimately determine your decision. You may wish to engage virtualization technology to evaluate both options prior to making a decision.

The Final Word: CentOS vs Ubuntu

There is no easy way to decide between CentOS vs Ubuntu which Linux distribution to install. Despite their open-source natures, these distributions are free and supported by the community. There is almost a war between CentOS and Ubuntu due to their essentially identical performance, dependability, and stability. The purpose of this article was to compare CentOS and Ubuntu Linux distributions based on the development platforms they use, features, pros and cons of Ubuntu and CentOS, and the idea behind their creation. Choosing between these distributions is completely in your hands.