If you choose to use a Linux server as your dedicated server, the next step will be to choose which distribution (AKA “distro”) that you want to use to complete your operating system. There are hundreds of different distros available for Linux servers, but two of the most popular by far are CentOS and Ubuntu. The popularity of these two distros means that much thought has been given to the CentOS vs Ubuntu debate. Below, we’ll look at the pros and cons of these two distros to help you determine which one is the best option for your server.
CentOS is a free version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux that offers many of the same advantages the popular distro. Overall, CentOS is known for being a very reliable and stable distro that is easy to manage. Much of this has to do with the fact that CentOS operates on a less-frequent release cycle than many other distros, including Ubuntu. Less frequent updates means that a CentOS distro requires less development expertise and less support to manage. However, it also means that CentOS doesn’t offer quite as many features as a more-frequently updated distro such as Ubuntu.
Nevertheless, there are still plenty of things to appreciate with CentOS, including 7-10 years of free security updates as well as a large community of CentOS enthusiasts that you can rely on for questions and support. The lightweight nature of CentOS is also an advantage in and of itself if preserving computing resources is a priority. Having a distro that uses a relatively small amount of computing resources means that you will have more computing resources to dedicate to other applications.
Originally, Ubuntu was primarily used for personal computers. Today, however, Ubuntu is a highly popular distro for cloud environments and server-class computing. Ubuntu is based on the Debian architecture and is made to run on popular architectures such as AMD, Intel, and ARM.
Compared to most other distros – including CentOS – Ubuntu operates on a very frequent update release cycle. Ubuntu releases updates publicly every six months, and each release includes nine months of free support. Beginning with Ubuntu 6.06, the distro also started releasing major updates every two years. These major updates come with five years of long-term support.
These frequent updates help make Ubuntu a very feature-rich distro, which is ideal for developers who want to create more complex, cutting-edge software. However, staying up to date with all of the updates that Ubuntu releases can require more development expertise and higher levels of support. Being feature-rich also means that Ubuntu will require more computing resources to run than a lighter distro such as CentOS.
CentOS vs Ubuntu: Main Differences
Though CentOS and Ubuntu both accomplish the same basic purpose, it’s still important to consider the key differences between the two distros when making your choice.
If simplicity is your primary goal, then CentOS may be the better option. Fewer features means that CentOS is easier to use out of the box, and fewer updates means that it remains easy to use as time goes on. However, if you need access to all of the latest and greatest features in order to accomplish more complex development projects, you might be better off choosing Ubuntu, which is a far more feature-rich distro.
Overall, CentOS is seen as more reliable and secure than Ubuntu, though software can be added to Ubuntu to make it just as secure. CentOS also uses less computing resources than Ubuntu, which may or may not be a concern for your organisation depending on the amount of computing resources that you have available and the amount that you are either currently using or intend to use in the future.
Though Ubuntu requires more support to maintain, it also offers more support as well. Each major update comes with five years of long-term support, and each minor update comes with nine months of support. This support can go a long way toward helping you stay up-to-date with all of Ubuntu’s releases.
For a visual comparison between CentOS vs Ubuntu, check out the table below:
Choosing to host your website on a Linux server means that you will have a wide range of distros to choose from as well. While these choices means that you should be able to find a distro that offers exactly what you are looking for, they can also create a lot of confusion. With CentOS and Ubuntu being the two most popular distros by far, these two options are a great place to begin your search. By carefully considering the pros and cons of both CentOS and Ubuntu, you should be able to determine which one is the best option for your server. If you would like to learn more about choosing the right distro for a Linux server, we invite you to contact us today.