VPS Operating Systems Compared: CentOS vs. Ubuntu
Upon purchasing a VPS, one crucial decision that needs to be made is the selection of the operating system for the virtual server. Most commonly, Linux is preferred as the operating system due to its numerous benefits. One of the key advantages of using Linux over Windows is that it is an Open Source system. Unlike Windows, users of Linux can keep track of the software without any limitations, which has resulted in the formation of a significant online community centered around the operating system.
When it comes to VPS, Ubuntu, and CentOS are the two most popular Linux distributions in use. Both of these operating systems are renowned for their dependability and resilience, and they each have their own specific advantages. These differences between them can have a significant impact on the choice of the operating system. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of both distributions in greater detail and determine which one is better suited for use in VPS.
A Brief History of Ubuntu and CentOS
Ubuntu, which is built upon Debian architecture, made its debut in 2004 and has since become a popular operating system choice among users for both personal and professional purposes. One of the system's key benefits is its regular updates and bug fixes, as well as its vast selection of packages and features. These features make Ubuntu an ideal choice for a wide range of projects, with over 40,000 applets available in its software center. The software is easy to configure and offers robust security measures.
On the other hand, CentOS was developed as part of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux project of the same name, and it hit the software market simultaneously with Ubuntu in 2004. The community-managed open-source project offers a reliable platform for free software communities, and it is mainly utilized in hosting, cloud providers, scientific data processing, and related fields.
CentOS developers collaborate with other communities to promote the platform's development and dissemination. The operating system is flexible, secure, and reliable, providing a sophisticated and convenient development environment.
In 2020, RHEL declared that it would discontinue supporting CentOS 8, with CentOS 7 receiving updates until 2024. The company advises users to switch to CentOS Stream, a continually updated operating system.
The Availability of Software for Operating Systems
Both Ubuntu and CentOS have their own package managers and unique architectures. Ubuntu is based on Debian architecture while CentOS uses the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) architecture. Although the difference in architecture can be observed in the choice of software packages, both operating systems have the same principle of software installation through the package manager.
CentOS installs RPM packages through the Yum package manager, which was replaced by the DNF Package Manager in 2020. However, the distribution cannot directly use RPM, and the package manager downloads and installs RPM before use. In contrast, Ubuntu utilizes the APT package manager, an Advanced Package Tool that upgrades the OS version.
Overall, CentOS and Ubuntu offer the same functionality, but deb packages cannot be installed on CentOS, and RPM packages cannot be installed on Ubuntu. As developers usually stick to a specific type of package (either .deb or .rpm), some software may not be available on CentOS.
The architecture of the two distributions also differs in the structure of software packages. For instance, Apache, a commonly used software package in web servers, has varying functions in CentOS and Ubuntu operating systems. In CentOS, the Apache service is represented by the httpd icon, while in Ubuntu, it is called apache2.
The User Interface of Operating Systems
Ubuntu is often considered the optimal choice for beginners in web hosting and server administration. However, this is only applicable when Ubuntu is in GUI desktop mode. Ubuntu comes with GNOME, which is its default desktop environment. GNOME is very user-friendly and particularly easy for Mac users to navigate. Additionally, the desktop version of Ubuntu has a modified and optimized version of GNOME that is unique to this distribution.
In contrast, CentOS is not known for being visually appealing or simple. Although it is compatible with all common desktops, such as GNOME and KDE Plasma, the default desktop is not beginner-friendly. However, there is no significant difference in usability when it comes to server-mode operating systems, as both CentOS and Ubuntu are only available in command-line mode, with no desktop available.
CentOS stands out because it supports one of the most popular control panels, cPanel. cPanel is a user-friendly graphical interface that simplifies server management tasks and serves as a convenient reseller hosting platform. Developers who create servers may find CentOS to be an ideal choice for this reason.
For individuals who need the latest server features, Ubuntu is the best option, and its large community provides extensive support. In contrast, CentOS is a great choice for those who do not need frequent updates and prefer using cPanel.
Installation and Startup Process
When it comes to server administration using the desktop version of Ubuntu, the installation and startup process is less complex. Users can proceed through a step-by-step process and customize their settings before launching the server. Meanwhile, CentOS offers a menu of items that allow users to configure each setting separately. While each installation and configuration option has its own logic, users can select the option that best suits their needs.
System Minimum Requirements
The minimum system requirements vary for different versions of CentOS. To run CentOS 5 with a graphical interface, at least 512 MB of RAM is needed, while the command-line version only requires 128 MB. The distribution requires 1 GB of disk space, but for better performance, it is advisable to have 5 GB of free disk space. For CentOS 6 without a GUI, a minimum of 392 MB of RAM is required.
CentOS 7, on the other hand, needs a minimum of 1 GB of RAM and at least 10 GB of free disk space, while 20 GB of internal storage is recommended for optimal performance. In terms of Ubuntu, it requires a dual-core processor with a 2 GHz speed and at least 2 GB of RAM. To run Ubuntu with a GUI, a memory capacity of 25 GB is necessary.
Simplifying Documentation for Novices
Despite being known for its superior security features, it is suggested, to begin with Ubuntu if you are setting up everything independently, largely due to its extensive community. There is an abundance of free resources, tutorials, step-by-step guides, forums, and open communities of web developers worldwide who work with Ubuntu and can help you get started and secure your VPS efficiently.
Although CentOS has comparable resources available, its community is relatively smaller. However, if you are prepared to pay for it, it is relatively easy to find high-quality premium support for CentOS.
Choosing between CentOS and Ubuntu, two Linux distributions with similar capabilities distributed on a free software basis, can be challenging. However, for beginners, Ubuntu is often the better option due to its large and active community that offers free assistance and many tutorials on Ubuntu.
Ubuntu's server version is also more accessible for those who have used the desktop version, which is more popular among home users than other Linux distributions. So, if you're new to Linux and have no specific needs, the Ubuntu server is a better option.
On the other hand, CentOS has several advantages for enterprise use. Control panels like cPanel or Direct-admin recommend it as the primary operating system, but its primary disadvantage is the discontinuation of support from developers. Although projects based on RHEL architecture are available, including one from the creator of CentOS, their effectiveness remains uncertain.
If you're a hosting company or a web design firm working with multiple clients, it's better to use CentOS for your virtual or dedicated server until support is discontinued.