CentOS vs Ubuntu. Which One Is Better?

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I was ask this question the other day, not to disappoint, I knew it was worthy of a discussion. Albeit, I’m sure this discussion will draw lots of hate mail from both sides, but it is still worthy of looking at to compare the two.

Both CentOS and Ubuntu were introduced in 2004, making the grand splash into a market that had been dominated by Microsoft Windows for both servers and desktop computers. While there were numinous Unix operating systems in production, they were not practical in the standpoint that they could be used in small corporate installations without a fair sized team of people with one bent hair coming out of the top of their head.

As with all operating systems installations, there is an enormous amount of information to discern, licensing cost for not just the operating system, but for other software as well, capacity planning, hardware planning and of course staff planning. All of this adds into the total cost per year that must be put into pretty spreadsheets, presentation charts made, and eventually, taken to the boardroom for approval as well as estimations of future cost involved with maintaining the network that is being planned.

This is where Linux has always shown it’s worth. Not only is it a robust operation system that is more than capable of performing, up to the task, but the cost of licensing is minimal compared to a Microsoft installation.

It is for this reason that within a very short amount of time, Linux was welcomed with open arms into the hands that could show a boardroom the cost savings and what company doesn’t want to cut cost.

As with all software, weather it’s an application or an operating system, there is a learning curve and that is where the human factor came into play. You see, humans are allergic to change, people do not want to learn something new. They are used to the pretty colors that have been on their screen for some time now.

Because of this psychological factor, it took some time for Linux to really show it’s true strength. Not detoured, the folks that spend countless hours writing the miles of code that makes all of it tick did not give up.

It didn’t take long for the Linux desktop to appear and when it did, that is when not only the corporate world took another serious look, but the consumer also did a double take.

With CentOS now at version 8 and Ubuntu now at version 20.04LTS, it is easy to see that Linux has truly evolved into a great operating system for both the corporate world and the consumer market as well.

So what is the difference and why is it worth looking at? To the untrained eye, one might say “Linux is Linux” and that is where they would be wrong.

You see, in the early days of operating system creation, – think back to the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s – an operating system was created for a purpose. Cobal was released for financial applications, Fortran was released for scientific/engineering applications. It was also around this time that Apple made it’s splash into the market as a home computer to play games and simple mathematics applications. Xeorx had their operating system which was more geared toward imagining applications and then came PC DOS from Microsoft that was touted as being the all of everything. Games and mathematics.

Linux too has branched-off to many different “flavors,” as they are called, each with their own unique application specific purposes, albeit, they all could technically be made to perform the same functions, but for this writing, we’re only going to be looking at the two most popular operating systems that seem to have gained the most attention and market share.

With all of this is mind, lets take a look at the main differences in the chart below.

Features

Ubuntu

CentOS

System Core

Based on Debian

Based on Redhat

Update Cycle

Often

Deliberately Infrequent

Security

Good (but requires additional configuration)

Strong

Support Considerations

Excellent documentation and support community

Good documentation. Small but active user community.

Platform Focal Point

Geared more towards the desktop user

Geared towards the server market and preferred by larger corporations

Manageability

Moderate

Challenging

File Structure

Both 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 Management

apt-get, aptitude

YUM

Cloud Interface

OpenStack

OpenStack, OpenNebula, CloudStack

Virtualization

KVM, Xen

Native KVM Support

Ease of Use

Moderate

Difficult

Speed Considerations

Excellent (depends on HW used)

Excellent (depends on HW used)

Hosting Market Share

37.8% (7/19)

17.3% (7/19)

Default applications

Frequently Updated

Infrequent Updates (only as required)

Stability

Good

High

As one can see, it really is up the a corporate decision maker or a home user as to what they want the operating system to do.

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