When it comes to choosing a server distribution, there is no shortage of options. All of the major Linux distributions that aren’t focused solely on the desktop produce a variant of their operating system intended to be used on servers, including Ubuntu, SUSE, and the venerable Debian.
Which distro a company should finally settle on depends on numerous factors, but whichever rises to the top, there’s no doubt that the choice will have a significant impact on the business going forward.
CentOS is among the most popular distributions available, and is found on servers everywhere, from small business email servers to hosting companies to enterprise applications.
While the other distributions are suitable for various circumstances — Ubuntu’s great if you want to keep reasonably up-to-date, RHEL comes with awesome support, and Debian has always offered rock solid stability — CentOS is, for many applications, the best all-round server distribution on the market. It should always be a strong contender when you’re choosing an OS to run on your own servers or considering web service vendors.
Here’s why we think you should consider CentOS.
For servers, stability is king. Once you get up and running on a server, it’s a pain to have to constantly adapt your applications and workflows to account for changing software versions or deal with a constant hose of updates that might break your setup. While CentOS certainly isn’t on the bleeding edge, for most purposes, you don’t need it to be.
That said, CentOS does get security updates in good time, so you won’t be lagging when it comes to patches for exploits.
CentOS aims to be a binary compatible “clone” of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It’s like RHEL minus some proprietary additions and Red Hat support.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux is by far the most popular enterprise distribution. Many binary packages are developed with RHEL in mind, so compiling software is rarely a necessity. Additionally, there are many expert RHEL system administrators out there.
Should you choose to move to one of Red Hat’s supported packages in the future, it’s far easier to move from CentOS to RHEL than from another distribution.
CentOS has a huge community of developers and system administrators, and that means great free support and guidance. There are many CentOS-focused resources just a Google away.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux is all about the support packages, and Red Hat didn’t become the first billion dollar Linux company by selling them cheap. For startups and small businesses, going the RHEL route can be prohibitively expensive. CentOS is a compatible, and free, alternative.
Agree wholeheartedly or disagree vehemently? Tell us what you think in the comments.