Choosing an operating system for your server or business is not an easy task, especially if you are looking to use a Linux distribution. This is because there are hundreds of versions available for Linux, each with its own benefits. Out of the hundreds of options, the most popular choices for web servers are Ubuntu and CentOS. Knowing the differences between Ubuntu vs. CentOS for small businesses can help you decide which will work best for your business’ use case.
No matter if you are a beginner or a professional, it generally comes down to choosing between Ubuntu and CentOS. Both of them are free and open-source with huge community support and regular updates. It’s somewhat difficult to decide between the two for your small business as there’s no straightforward choice. Each can do almost everything that the other can.
Before knowing the differences between Ubuntu and CentOS, let’s take a look at their brief overview.
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Based on Debian, Ubuntu is a free Linux distribution. It was developed to help people find a new desktop Linux experience through its open-source community. Since it is difficult for most of the users to use Linux, the developers of Ubuntu are constantly working on making it simpler and easier to use.
In layman’s terms, Ubuntu can be considered as one of the most user-friendly Linux OSes. It also has a developer community that offers excellent support. Because this is the most popular Linux distribution, the amount of documentation and help available is ahead of any other distribution available.
Based on RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), CentOS is a popular, open-source Linux-based distribution. Red Hat Linux was considered one of the most reliable and stable distribution since the outset of Linux. Mostly, it is been implemented in IT applications of high-end corporate. Continuing the tradition of Red Hat, CentOS offers a thoroughly-tested and extremely stable operating system.
Similar to Ubuntu, CentOS is stable and highly customizable. Because of the early dominance of CentOS, a large number of conventions are built around its architecture. In RHEL, cutting-edge high-end security measures were implemented for corporate that CentOS architecture quickly adapts to. This is a more business-friendly OS, with many enterprise applications designed to work with it.
Feature Comparison of Ubuntu and CentOS
One of the key features of Ubuntu and CentOS is that both of them are free. There is no charge to download a copy and install it on your server.
Ubuntu is Debian-based whereas CentOS is RHEL-based architecture. Both Ubuntu and CentOS use a package manager that is responsible for update tracking and dependency resolving. The package manager used by Ubuntu is the
apt package manager, so tools from
.deb packages can be installed. This is different from CentOS, which uses the
yum package manager. Tools packaged as
.rpm packages can be installed here. Both of these package managers offer the same function.
The difference is in the availability of these packages. Almost all industry tools are available as a CentOS package, unlike Ubuntu which may have the occasional package missing. Since your developer will stick to mostly one type of package, it is better that you ask their preferred one, one that has the most support.
Ubuntu offers a larger number of packages in comparison to CentOS. You can choose from over ten thousand packages offered by Ubuntu. This is in contrast to the CentOS repository, which offers only a few thousand packages. This means that Ubuntu is better in the number of tools offered, even if these packages aren’t necessarily business-related.
More often than not, important tools are written specifically for RPM-based systems, like cPanel. Also, the majority of industry tools are designed for CentOS, making it a preferable choice for some people.
Security, updates, and stability
Ubuntu has excellent community support – it is regularly updated. A new version of Ubuntu is available every six months. Currently, Ubuntu also releases a long-term support (LTS) version every 2 years. These versions receive software updates for 5 years. This gives you the option between a cutting-edge install vs. a long-term support version. This gives you the option to experiment with the new technology, but it may create conflicts, especially with older configurations.
The team of CentOS is very small; hence their OS is not updated as frequently. Also, they test each of their tools before releasing them. Each release of CentOS gets more than 10 years of support. However, it also means that there will be no access to any new third-party software in the CentOS repository. For this, you need to manually download any third-party tool that you need.
This however means that CentOS is reliable and stable, not to mention more lightweight than Ubuntu. This overall maximizes performance and responsiveness, even more so than Ubuntu.
Even with these differences, Ubuntu and CentOS are both stable and secure. Their developers are constantly working on security patches. There is no real problem with security on either one of these OSes.
Ease of Use
Ubuntu has come a long way in making a user-friendly system. The focus of an Ubuntu server is more towards usability. Its interface is intuitive and simple to manage and comes with useful quality-of-life features. It is easy and straightforward to run the utilities from the command-line.
Also, Ubuntu has a large community offering a solid knowledge base for support. You can easily find tutorials for installing almost any software on Ubuntu on the Internet. Because of this, it is quite easy to set up and use Ubuntu in comparison to other Linux operating systems.
CentOS provides you with access to many important tools such as cPanel. If you require Ubuntu, however, it’s easy to find alternatives to those tools that will work on Ubuntu. And as mentioned earlier, Ubuntu has plenty of tutorials online for installing almost any software platform.
The learning curve of CentOS is steeper than Ubuntu. There are fewer tutorials available on the Internet relatively speaking, making it more difficult to learn CentOS. If you are new to the command line, you may run into some obstacles when trying to use CentOS. However, there are plenty of online certifications that are available to help you learn how to use CentOS to its full potential.
CentOS is liked by most Linux veterans as they already know the Red Hat architecture and are familiarized with them. Most of the Internet’s web servers run on CentOS, which helps in improving cross-compatibility, giving you access to various server utilities.
Both Ubuntu and CentOS are popular Linux distributions that have their advantages and disadvantages. They both are open-source and completely free for use. For a beginner, Ubuntu is the right choice as it is easy to learn. However, for a more professional user, CentOS is the way to go. If you like to play with new technologies, Ubuntu is the perfect one for you. It offers great community support along with being compatible with most of the tools. But when it comes to reliability, CentOS is more reliable in comparison to Ubuntu.
Generally speaking, if you’re running a server for your business or for enterprise-level work and tasks, CentOS should be the default choice as it provides the best reliability and support over a long period of time. Ubuntu is great for experimenting and trying new technologies out as compatibility with newer software is typically better on Ubuntu.
Regardless of which operating system you choose, managing it and keeping up with maintenance and security is time-consuming and can be confusing. Our managed Ubuntu hosting and managed CentOS hosting are both designed to take the complexity out of using a Linux server. Designed for anyone from an individual to a large business, we are here to install, configure, maintain, optimize, and harden your VPS, all without you having to do a thing.
If this guide aided your decision on whether to use Ubuntu or CentOS, we’d appreciate hearing your thoughts by leaving a comment, or by sharing this post on social media by using our share shortcuts. Thank you.