What is CentOS?

In this article, we explain what CentOS is and how it differs from other Linux distributions. We also look at their features, benefits, risks, and alternatives.

CentOS Definition
Risks of Using CentOS
Alternatives to CentOS
Difference between CentOS and Ubuntu
Difference between CentOS and Debian
Which one should you go for?

CentOS Definition

 CentOS stands for Community ENTerprise Operating System. It is focused on the goal of providing a rich base platform for open-source communities to build upon. CentOS is based on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux source code and built on the Linux kernel, first introduced in 2004.

Risks of Using CentOS

A few years ago, the CentOS project decided to discontinue CentOS Linux. This means that the current users will need to migrate their systems to a different path such as CentOS Stream, Ubuntu, or Debian. The CentOS community will continue collaborating on other open-source Linux distributions as part of the CentOS Stream project.

NOTE: CentOS Stream is a rolling release distribution of CentOS rather than a rebuild of RHEL. Its stability and compatibility are not guaranteed. If CentOS Stream is used in a production environment, the risks cannot be predicted.

Here are the end-of-life dates for the most recent CentOS Linux releases:

  • CentOS Linux 8: Dec. 31, 2021
  • CentOS Linux 7: June 30, 2024

If you are using CentOS Linux, note that:

  • As of January 1, 2020, CentOS 8 users no longer receive software maintenance or technical support, such as bug fixes or feature updates.
  • As of July 1, 2024, CentOS 7 users will no longer receive software maintenance or technical support, such as bug fixes or feature updates.
It's not possible to guarantee that the environment meets up-to-date security requirements, which makes it more vulnerable to security breaches.

Alternatives to CentOS

You may be thinking: “If the CentOS operating system EOL is coming soon, which is the best alternative?”. In the table below, we compare CentOS to the other most long-lasted Linux distributions: Ubuntu and Debian.

Operating systemCentOSUbuntuDebian
SupportCommunity-support and enterprise-level supportCommunity-support and enterprise-level supportCommunity-support
Package ManagerYUMAPTAPT
Ease of useModerateEasyModerate
Hardware SupportGoodModerateModerate
Release CycleRegularRegularRegular
Cloud SupportYesYesYes
Web ServerApache, NginxApache, Lighttpd, NginxApache, Nginx

Differences between CentOS and Ubuntu

Let’s take a look at the differences between Ubuntu and CentOS:

  1. Ubuntu is based on the Debian architecture while CentOS has forked from Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
  2. In Ubuntu, you can download DEB packages using the apt-get package manager. Meanwhile, in CentOS, you have to use the yum command to download and install RPM packages from the central repository.
  3. Finding solutions to Ubuntu problems is a lot easier than in CentOS due to its small community and documentation that can be difficult to find.
  4. If you are a beginner, installing CentOS on your server may be a bit harder since RHEL-based desktop distributions aren’t widely used, while Ubuntu desktop is more user-friendly.

Differences between CentOS and Debian

Key differences between CentOS and Debian:

  1. Debian is based on the Linux Kernel while CentOS is forked from Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
  2. In Debian, you can download DEB packages using the dpkg/APT as the package manager. In CentOS, you have to use the YUM package manager to download and install RPM packages from the repository.
  3. CentOS doesn't support as many architectures as Debian, Debian supports MIPSel, MIPS64el, and s390x architectures, while CentOS 7 supports POWER9 and armhf/armhfp.
  4. Debian and CentOS support different Filesystems. By default, CentOS comes with XFS, whereas Debian has EXT4. It is important to remember that some filesystems are only supported by Debian, such as, ZFS.

CentOS, Debian, or Ubuntu?

This mostly depends on your needs, expectations, and experience of working with Linux-based operating systems.

To continue working with an environment similar to CentOS, you can consider migrating to AlmaLinux OS. This is a stable and reliable OS that is 1:1 binary compatible with RHEL. It is similar to the current stable releases of RHEL. AlmaLinux is not only a solid replacement for CentOS but also a great alternative to RHEL.

Debian is a right choice if you are looking to install an operating system on your desktop and want a daily driver, - that's easy to use, easy to upgrade, and most importantly, an up-to-date OS.

Ubuntu is best for beginners because it has a large community, many free tutorials, and a lot more frequent updates to help you stay up to date. It;s also easier to get started with if you're already familiar with Ubuntu.


What are the risks of using CentOS?

The risks are quite obvious - the lack of OS updates and bug fixes leads to the security vulnerabilities in your environment. There are increasingly more threats to working online systems so using an OS that's updated and supported is crucial.

What are some alternatives to CentOS?

Firstly, your choice of the Linux-based alternative should come from the needs  of your working environment. We suggest considering between AlmaLinux, Debian, and Ubuntu as these are the most long-lasting and trustworthy operating systems.

Which operating system is easier to transfer from CentOS?

Currently, AlmaLinux OS is the most straightforward option as it is a free open-source, community-driven Linux operating system that's a 1:1 binary-compatible clone of RHEL, guided and built by the community. If you use cPanel as your CentOS web panel, then you can continue using it with AlmaLinux.

That’s it!

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