Linux is the preferred operating system for production servers and critical systems. Linux has over 300 popular flavors / distributions that are being used all around the globe by users to cater their modern day computing needs. The most important choices among Linux distributions are Redhat, CentOS, Fedora, Ubuntu and Debian. Ubuntu and Debian are used by a vast majority of home / desktop users while Fedora is heaven for developers. Redhat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and CentOS (Community Enterprise Operating System) are two popular choices for servers operating system. Which one is better? it’s a never ending debate and frankly every user has its own priorities.
Generally speaking, CentOS is considered a better option as compared to Redhat Enterprise Linux. The main reason behind this claim is the “no-subscription cost”. If you decided to use RHEL, you need to pay Redhat Inc. the subscription fee to use RHN. While Redhat also provides you technical support for the issues you encounter on their operating system. On the other hand, CentOS is exactly the same as Redhat Enterprise Linux, except branding information and subscription has been removed and CentOS community re-pack the RHEL packages into CentOS. Thus, in layman’s terms, you can considered CentOS a free replica of RHEL. Currently around 30% of world’s websites are hosted on CentOS operating system based servers.
Disclaimer : We at Linuxpitstop.com write a lot of articles for CentOS operating system and are big fans of CentOS and we hold great respect for this distribution. The following mentioned points are just another way of looking at the comparision of these two operating systems, we are no way endorsing RHEL or discourging CentOS, we are just providing our point of view that might matter to some users when they are looking to choose between these two operating system.
But in some way, CentOS might not be better choice than Redhat Enterprise Linux. CentOS although equipped with same features as RHEL, there are some points (atleast four) where RHEL differs from CentOS and it should be considered as your server’s operating system for production environment.
No Official Support for CentOS
RHEL comes with official support from Redhat experts. If you encountered any weird issues on your system, you can contact Redhat technical support via Live chat, support tickets or phone call if you issue is of critical nature. But with CentOS you don’t have any such support. If you system runs into any issues, you will need to spend hours using Google to find fix for your issue. Although, CentOS has a very active and rich user community who are willing to help others, but still this is no replacement for Redhat Technical Support.
CentOS is Always Catching Up
CentOS is derived from Red Hat Enterprise Linux, so everything or every fix for issues are first implemented on Redhat Enterprise Linux and then they are ported to CentOS. Even after the mainstream release of new RedHat Enterprise Linux version, it takes CentOS developers many days to prepare and upload new CentOS release ISOs. Similiar is the case for any bug fixes/security patches. Lets assum you are running your most important e-commerce site on CentOS; if there is any security loophole identified and patched by RedHat team, are you sure wanna leave your production system vulnerable for that long ?
No CentOS Certified Administrators
Redhat Enterprise Linux system administrator’s certifications are world wide recognized and anyone holding these certifications is no doubt an experience administrator who can resolve any sort and complexity of issues on Linux systems. Even the lowest level Engineer on Redhat Technical Support is certified on some stage, but unfortunately, we don’t see any such Certifications for CentOS operating system. Besides Redhat Technical Support, you can also seek help from Redhat certified persons for your server issues.
Support Redhat, Support CentOS
Without Redhat Enterprise Linux, there will be no CentOS. So if you got a good amount of server farm and you can afford subscription cost, go for Redhat, as in this way you will be helping Redhat sustain the current horrendous financial era; ultimately with every new Redhat release, you will be seeing new CentOS version too. To put into nutshell, supporting Redhat is a way to support CentOS.
CentOS is a great operating system, and as already mentioned, a major share of the internet is using CentOS. It is an excellent choice for running production applications. But when starting a mega project or looking for most reliable system to host your important stuff, you should take above mentioned points into consideration. For small to medium level setups, CentOS might be the best choice ever, but for large and mission critical projects, you should consider using Redhat Enterprise Linux.
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