Those who choose Linux distribution on their dedicated or virtual private server (VPS) enjoy almost unlimited options. Linux being an open source system, anyone having required skills can build as well as release their individual distribution. Linux from Scratch is another distribution, referring to a set of instructions which put together a distribution directly achieved from source.
Despite almost unlimited number of Linux distributions, Ubuntu and CentOS are most dominant on servers. Both of them are excellent but before making a choice between them, you should have a good hang of the differences between them. Let us start!
Ubuntu is based on Debian distribution whereas CentOS is a clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux but available at free of cost. The origin of each distribution makes the most significant differences from a user’s angle – the system of package management.
Ubuntu uses .deb format of Debian and also the tools, namely apt-get, developed to manage it. On other hand, CentOS makes a good use of RPM format and also yum management tool. Despite being different in several aspects, both are almost equal in respect of functionality. Users who have already used Linux on Debian derivative will find it easier to use apt-get and those comfortable with Red Hat systems may like a switch to CentOS. But if you are using Linux for the first time, the package managers will hardly be a strong distinguishing factor.
A significant factor that may convince the web hosting customers to select CentOS is compatibility of web hosting panel. CentOS rule the web hosting industry. Majority of the control panels including cPanel and InterWorx have an affinity to RHEL derivatives like CentOS. So if you have a plan to provide web hosting service via a control panel, then CentOS is ideal to go with.
RHEL is comparatively conservative in terms of software upgrade, security and privileging consistency. Ubuntu is not that much conservative and features a shorter cycle of release. That makes a way for the latest software to feature in the Ubuntu repos before it is got by the CentOS users. However, preference for a particular choice is subject to specific case of use.
CentOS features a longer release and support cycle. Long Term Support on Ubuntu is released every two years and offers support for 5 years. The first release of CentOS 6 is dated back to 2010 and there has been 5 minor point releases on it and will provide support until 2020. If a long support cycle and consistency are what you highly value, CentOS makes an excellent choice, especially when it now officially belongs to Red Hat.