You’ve decided to make the leap and get your own vps server but not sure which linux operating system to choose from. Don’t worry, many find themselves at this same crossroads with one lane going towards Ubuntu and the other towards CentOS.
This article aims to compare these two most popular and most widely used Linux server distributions available with a view to helping you make an informed decision. Let’s look at the history of each operating system and compare the features to determine which is best for you.
History of CentOS and Ubuntu
Ubuntu was originally developed in 2004 by Mark Shuttleworth of Canonical along with a group of open source programmers as a linux distribution that was meant to run on desktop PCs. The Ubuntu Server didn’t hit the market until later that year in October of 2004 and out of the 36.9% of websites on the internet being served by linux, of that percentage, 36.6% belongs to Ubuntu as measured by the top 10 million websites ranked by Alexa.
CentOS stands for Community Enterprise Operating System and and was originally founded by Lance David in 2004. CentOS is a free OS created based on the software repositories of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), a commercially available OS. As a result, CentOS is quite similar to RHEL and is sometimes considered to be a clone of the latter due to this similarity.
The biggest change to CentOS happened in January 2014 when Red Hat announced it will start sponsoring the CentOS Project with the aim of creating a community that was well suited to the needs of the open source developers who were responsible for integrating the technologies related to the operating system. This change meant that ownership for the trademark of the operating system were transferred to Red Hat and also,
key developers were employees of Red Hat.
CentOS is used by a wide base of people all over the world for various purposes mostly by small businesses and startups while RHEL focuses on medium and large sized businesses who need enterprise support for its market. Of the 36.9% of websites running on linux, 20.8% of that percentage is run on CentOS.
CentOS vs Ubuntu: A Comparison
Let’s compare a few features of both operating systems that would be important in a vps hosting environment. This includes server stability, ease of management, and support.
The stability of both operating systems is often talked about, but CentOS is considered more stable and takes the cake here because of its less frequent updates as compared to Ubuntu. Ubuntu is also stable and tested thoroughly before release but server administrators like to take as few risks as possible so for the stability and security that a server demands, CentOS wins hands down.
Ubuntu is based on the Debian distribution and uses apt-get and other related tools to manage Debian’s DEB packages while CentOS uses the yum management tool to manage its RPM packages. Users who’ve used Ubuntu’s desktop version will face fewer difficulties in adapting to the server version granted the same is true for CentOS if you’ve used Fedora, but Ubuntu’s GUI is much easier than using the CLI (command line interface) on CentOS.
Another distinguishing factor is the availability of support for popular web hosting control panels such as cPanel or Plesk. CentOS is compatible with both cPanel and Plesk while Ubuntu only supports Plesk. cPanel is the world’s most popular control panel and is widely used on web hosting servers so if cPanel is required, CentOS is the choice.
The latest statistics on w3techs.com as of July 20, 2017, reveal that 13.5% of users whose OS usage is known use Ubuntu and 7.7% of them use CentOS. Given the almost double user-base of Ubuntu, there is a huge community of open-source developers, free tutorials, and online forums so finding a solution to your issue shouldn’t be a problem. CentOS has a smaller user base so naturally it will also have a smaller online community but have more premium support options.
After comparing Ubuntu and CentOS, it is clear that neither of the two can be considered as the ultimate choice for a Linux server. It really depends on the purpose you will be using it for and the size of your business. For small businesses and beginners, Ubuntu can be considered a safe choice. For small to medium size businesess or websites needing cPanel, CentOS is your pick.