What is CentOS?

General

July 1, 2022 by Liosa F

what is CentOS

The Internet platform has been able to create an integrated network for us so that we can communicate in all areas to meet our needs. The main factor in establishing this connection is the servers that provide the processing power required by the Internet and provide storage space for our data; As you know, these servers, like computers, require operating systems.

Choosing the best operating system for your needs can play an important role in achieving your goal; Especially since Linux distributions for VPS have become very popular recently, users are confused about choosing the best Linux distribution that can meet their needs.

Linux has many different distributions, each with its own advantages; Certainly, till now, between the various Linux distributions, You’ve heard of CentOS, but you may not be thoroughly familiar with it.

CentOS is an open-source, Linux-based operating system based on Red Hat Enterprise (RHEL) source packages; It is also a popular business and enterprise operating system, which we will explain in more detail to familiarize you with this operating system so that you are aware of the features, advantages, and disadvantages of CentOS.

All about CentOS

CentOS stands for Community Enterprise Operating System and is a free, open-source Distribution with a Linux kernel that is also a trading platform. CentOS was released in March 2004 by Gregory Kurtzer; it is One of the best Linux distributions that provides an open-source operating system with a free enterprise-class computing platform.

Linux distributions; A collection of Linux kernel distributed software that typically uses GNU tools.CentOS is also distributed under the (GNU GPL) General Public License, Which is called the GNU / Linux distribution.

It is also functionally compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), which is its strong source. CentOS developers use RHEL source code to create similar products, and users can Benefit from RHEL stability and reliability; RHEL is a Linux enterprise operating system that has a paid subscription.

CentOs Project enables developers to equip and develop projects by accessing RHEL source code; Most released CentOS versions are RHEL based and RedHat compatible.

The CentOS project, after years of independent activity, in early 2014, its developers and RedHat staff together formed a Board of Directors and released versions of CentOS to the market, and The Mirror version is one of the versions introduced in Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This means that every time a new version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux is released, a similar version is introduced as CentOS after a few weeks or months.

Since then, this team has been responsible for supporting (designing, updating, system kernel, etc.) and further developing distributions, especially CentOS, and this distribution is now supported by the larger community.

Combining a good and rich support team in CentOS communities and complete documentation of this operating system, CentOS becomes an excellent product for use in businesses, organizations, schools, universities, and other things that require a Linux that can be reliable on their servers and desktops, By choosing CentOS, you will no longer have to pay much money to buy Enterprise products.

Most organizations use RHEL as the primary server, and CentOS is used as the backup and redundant server. Due to this, organizations did not need to hire multiple system administrators and could easily manage CentOS by hiring one RHEL-based administrator. Architecturally, CentOS also supports x86, x64, i386, and even PowerPC architectures, as well as GNOME and KDE desktops, and can be used as a server and workstation.

CentOS was created by providing a development platform to provide a strong platform for the growth of open source communities, known as a strong, consistent, and secure distribution. In addition, it has been introduced as an excellent choice for any use by providing security updates to fix security holes and problems caused by malware and detect vulnerabilities.

CentOS is a good alternative to Red Hat Enterprise Linux with its free download and installation capabilities and has attracted many users with its free features and security updates.

CentOS Linux as a member of the Linux family, is similar to Unix and was constantly updated until CentOS8 was discontinued in 2021, but after the end of CentOs8 life; CentOS Stream replaced it; So users had to migrate to a new operating system to get security updates and take advantage of CentOS unique features; However, CentOS Linux7, which was released in 2017 based on the 3.10.0 kernel and has SELinux security; According to the plan, it will continue to live until 2024.

CentOS surpassed Debian in 2010 as the most popular Linux distribution in the web hosting and VPS industry, accounting for 30% of all Linux web servers; Most users unequivocally installed the CentOS version on their system after purchasing a Linux VPS; This popularity of CentOS is due to its high compatibility with RHEL and the majority of Linux software. We shouldn’t miss the fact that most hosting control panels also use CentOS on dedicated servers.

CentOS History

Before we know CentOS by this name; The name of this product was cAos Linux, and it was introduced in 2002 by Gregory Kurtzer. In 2006, David Parsley, the main developer of the Tao Linux operating system that is one of the main RHEL clones, decided to program and develop the CentOS operating system after announcing about retirement and stopping Tao Linux; A team of programmers undergoing an update called YUM rebuilt the CAOS distribution and converted it to CentOS.

CentOS was introduced to the world as an independent operating system from the beginning, and in 2014 it officially started working with Red Hat. This project was developed by an American company called Red Hat, Inc., based in Raleigh, North Carolina; The company was formed from the merger of two companies owned by Marc Ewing and Bob Young in the mid-1990s; Of course, the origins of CentOS go back much earlier than this date.

The first version of CentOS was released in March 2004; Tao Linux users migrated to CentOS after launching the first version of CentOS by using YUM updates; In 2010, CentOS became popular among Linux distributions for use on servers. It is interesting to note that the CentOS.org Internet domain, which is the largest Community of this operating system, was previously registered by a person named Lance Davis, and the CentOS management team purchased it from Lance Davis under a contract.

The second version of CentOS was separated from RHEL version 2.1AS, and until version 8, CentOS officially supported the x86-64, ARM64, and POWER8 architectures, and from version 6 onwards, it also supports the IA-32 architecture; AltArch CentOS 7 versions for IA-32, Power ISA, and ARMv7hl and AArch64 ARM architectures have also been available since December 2015. Finally, the latest version of CentOS8 was released in 2019 and stopped in 2021 and has been replaced by the CentOS Stream version.

Advantages of CentOS Linux distribution

  • Reliability
  • Free and open source
  • Fast performance
  • high security
  • Strong support by a large community and bug fixes directly through centos.org
  • Long maintenance and Repair cycle
  • Having Git service and open-source server software such as MySQL, CUPS, and Apache Web.
  • Ability to use commercial RHEL features free of charge
  • Virtualization technology and hypervisors such as Xen, oVirt, and Docker

Features provided by CentOS

Current CentOS version 7.0 (as of January 2017) is based on the Linux 3.10.0 kernel, is secured through SELinux, and includes GCC (GNU compiler suite). This collection contains the compilers for the most widely used C ++ and Java programming languages.CentOS Linux supports Bluetooth, Internet Protocol (IPv6) version 6, Hyper-Threading (CPU splitter into two virtual processors to improve performance), Plug and Play, and older versions like centOS 5 and CentOS6; a compatibility library is available.

With CentOS access and control policies, you can control and manage various processes and files, as well as with regular Red Hat updates that release a new version of CentOS Linux every 2 years, with 10 years of support for each version, Causes you to have fewer problems and as a result of updates, use new software and features, and due to the long release cycle; CentOS distributions are more stable, and you do not need to update applications regularly.

CentOS open source allows users and developers to change and distribute freely; There are also various management options in the CentOS user panel, such as Plesk, WebMin, Spacewalk, CWP, Virtualmin, VestaCP, and cPanel; Also in standard distribution packages; The following software is considered:

  • Apache (httpd 2.4.6) as a web server
  • Samba-4.1.x as a network administrator
  • MariaDB 5.5.x, PostgreSQL 9.2.x as database
  • PHP 5.4, Python 2.7, Perl 5.16.3 as the programming language
  • X.org 7.7 as display server
  • Firefox 45 as a browser
  • LibreOffice 4.3.7 as a collection office

CentOS features and capabilities

 CentOS Linux versions

CentOS has released several versions in 6 public versions so far; CentOS versions are provided based on each version of RHEL, and CentOS versions are named according to the same RedHat Enterprise number and time stamp.

The timestamp of each version is the same year and month that the RedHat version was released. For example, the CentOS8 version is called CentOS 8.0-1905 because RHEL 8.0 was released in May 2019. This operating system is numerically named with 3 variable parts. The first number of these 3 parts represents the original version of the operating system and is related to the RHEL operating system; in fact, it is a reconstruction of every version that is offered, and its number Is on the main version of the operating system and the second part, which is separated by a dot; It indicates the updates provided for this operating system, For example, the operating system CentOS6.5 means the sixth version of RHEL has been rebuilt, and 6 update packages have been delivered so far.

The third part in the naming is related to the month and date of the update and is displayed as a four-digit number So that the two digits on the left, The year of publication, and the two digits on the right indicate the month of publication. For example, CentOS 6.3.1110 tells us that our desired CentOS operating system received its third update in the tenth month of 2011 and is related to RHEL version 6.

CentOs releases have 6 original versions. Version 3 of the CentOS operating system was the first complete version of it, which was introduced as the official operating system in 2004. Versions 4 and 5 were introduced in 2005 and 2007, respectively. They have been supported for a long time, especially version 5, which was supported for 10 years and served the servers until 2017 as an operating system. In the case of updates, as mentioned earlier, CentOS updates are delayed by two to six weeks after RHEL, and the new original version of CentOS is usually released every 2 years. Each is supported for 10 years.

In 2014, version 7 of the CentOS operating system was released. It is one of the most authentic versions of this operating system, which has excellent features such as support for IA-32, Power ISA, ARMv7hl, and AArch64 ARM architectures; fortunately, it Receives updates by June 30, 2024, and the latest version of CentOS; Version 8 was released in September 2019 and had a Linux 4.18 kernel that supported the x86-64, POWER8 and ARM architectures, but unfortunately stopped on December 31, 2021, and was replaced by CentOS Stream.

In general, different versions of centOS have made great efforts to improve their performance and have a high level of ability to provide services to servers; This operating system is especially suitable for web servers.

Learn more about CentOS Stream

CentOS Stream is a development platform for Red Hat Enterprise Linux that allows Red Hat developers to collaborate with open-source community members. RedHat has counted on this distribution as a stable ABI / API for community testing and development. CentOS Stream aims to use open source innovation to shape future sustainable RHEL versions.

RedHat with the development of RHEL source code in CentOS Stream before the release of the newer version, CentOS stream is considered as an implementation of the open-source development model and a preview of future versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Each version of CentOS Stream includes future minor RHEL updates.

Of course, the CentOS stream is not a substitute for CentOS distributions because CentOS is a redesigned Linux version of Red Hat Enterprise, While the CentOS stream is the RHEL development version.

Unlike CentOS Linux, where significant changes and upgrades can take years in general, In CentOS Stream, users have access to the official repository, Reducing the release cycle to weeks or days.

Therefore, people who want to measure their servers’ Resistance and ensure they are stable to meet their needs can consider CentOS stream as a step towards advanced enterprise Linux innovation and choose it to meet their needs.

CentOS Stream developers are welcomed by Red Hat, which allows the developer community to try out solutions to specific problems and make a great impact on the release of RHEL, transfer RedHat’s internal projects to CentOS Stream, and be able to share best operational practices with a larger community.

In any case, with the cessation of the CentOSLinux project, its users have no choice but to switch to CentOS Stream, and the CentOS community will continue to work with other open-source Linux distributions as part of the CentOS Stream project.

 

What are the reasons for the popularity and use of CentOS Linux?

CentOS is the most popular Linux distribution for web servers and other Internet servers, But what is the reason for this popularity? And what features have made it reach its current position now? In the following, we will introduce you to these unique CentOS capabilities and features to prove our point.

Being stable

The stability of an operating system is an admirable advantage; This means that an operating system has been tested, and all bugs and problems have been fixed. CentOS distribution with regular updates by the global community of developers and expert users interested in Linux; Test versions; Assist in developing and managing updates.

Stability on servers is very important; Because any mistake on the server can lead to a disaster, or we may lose information or services may be suspended, or even suffer heavy financial losses and other unpleasant consequences that can sometimes be irreparable. Therefore, using a professional and stable operating system on any server is essential, as CentOS is one of the most stable operating systems with a powerful kernel.

high security

Security is another advantage of CentOs over other distributions; Operating system security blocks third-party intrusion and the possibility of exploiting sensitive information and data on your operating system and server. centOS is very strong in terms of security because it has the SELinux kernel and is protected from unauthorized access and computer resources with the help of NSA and RedHat support. The RedHat security team is responsible for identifying CentOS threats and vulnerabilities.

Regular updates

CentOS versions with regular, short-term updates which occur every 6 months, and with 10-year support for each version, For users who use this operating system to develop and produce applications and stability and long-term support is important to them, CentOS Provides favorable conditions for them.

Strong performance and support for x86_64 and x86 architectures

CentOs performs well due to the use of virtual machines to perform virtualization operations and supports x86_64 and x86 architectures; specially CentOS7, which shines through the support of the developer community among the various CentOS distributions, with support for the ppc64le, Arm32, i686, and Arm64 architectures.

Enterprise platform

To manage web servers or servers used for organizations; We need professional features that may not be available in many operating systems; In addition, if web-based processes are not optimized, It may cause problems.

The Enterprise version has the most powerful features and is usually more expensive among different operating systems. CentOS is the most powerful enterprise operating system implemented on the RHEL kernel. It also provides the modules and optimizations required for web servers or enterprise servers by default that are compatible with other code such as PHP.

Possibility of professional management and flexibility

The settings that CentOS provides users are not comparable to other Linux distributions; CentOS is very flexible; CentOS allows users to make changes, add custom features, and manage packages. You can also make changes to the operating system’s core by coding. Enable and disable each desired module, and Configure your operating system for any functionality.

Of course, implementing these changes requires knowledge and expertise, but the features that CentOS provides to users make this process much easier.

Due to its compatibility with various applications and high flexibility, this distribution can be run as a web server such as Nginx and apache, email server, database server, application server, and FTP proxy server.

Also, server management is one of the most important tasks of admins, and the possibility of benefiting from different control panels can make the management process on the server easier. CentOS supports various control panels such as; DirectAdmin, Spacewalk, CWP, Plesk, ISPConfig, Virtualmin, Vesta CP, cPanel, InterWorx, and WebMin, allowing users to manage without worries and they can make settings related to email, websites, and FTP access. The Control panels have features such as DNS settings, network settings, backup, databases, and additional security features such as CSF firewall, software installation (such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla), protection against brute force attacks, and virus scanning.

It should be noted that we mean the compatibility of this operating system with different types of control panels, and in order to have their features, you must install the desired control panels on different versions of CentOS; Of course, we have explained how to install Direct Admin on CentOS7 in another article.

Support through a growing community

The CentOS support team comprises communities from around the world working to improve and enhance this distribution. With the development of SIG groups (small and specific work teams from the CentOS community that focus on a particular issue to optimize performance aspects and increase Linux distributions), this community pays A lot of attention to optimizing performance aspects such as Virtualizations, User experience, and infrastructure.

This community, which was created to help beginner and professional users, is managed by the board of directors. This management team has appointed various posts to help users receive direct advice from community members in different languages.

The existence of a large and active support community that is growing; is a special advantage for an operating system that if you encounter a problem, you can easily communicate directly with the relevant forums and be guided.

Better alternatives to CentOS

According to the capabilities and features that we discussed, you Found out why CentOS is so popular among users. But operating systems like SUSE Enterprise or Ubuntu have grown to take that position. Although CentOS still has the most installations and users among Linux distributions, other operating systems have not lost the competition. As far as servers are concerned, the competition between CentOS and Ubuntu has intensified to the point where they are often used interchangeably.

It should be mentioned that Ubuntu is one of the lightest, strongest distributions with an attractive Linux user interface that is slightly weaker than CentOS in terms of security and stability. Of course, to find the right answer to the question of Centos or Ubuntu – which is the best choice, you should thoroughly examine the strengths and weaknesses of both operating systems.

But CentOS has not gained an advantage over Debian regarding security and stability. Still, it has surpassed Debian regarding the speed of executing commands required for the web and user interface.

Compared to the OpenSUSE operating system, the enterprise version, although less stable than CentOS, has attracted fans due to its long history of servicing laptops and home desktops and proving itself to users. Of course, these competitions’ winners depend on you and your needs.

But if you are looking for a professional operating system for your servers with high stability and security, CentOS should be your first choice. Of course, with the cessation of CentOS8, many CentOS users became concerned about suitable alternative operating systems. Although CentOS Stream tried to continue this cycle, for many users, choosing an operating system that could fill the gap in CentOS distributions is a challenge; But operating systems such as Oracle Linux, Arch Linux and Rocky Linux have been released as a viable alternatives with Similar features to CentOS and to attract CentOS users; If this is the first time you have heard of Rocky Linux, the article What is Rocky Linux can make you more familiar with this operating system.

FAQ

You can download and install your desired version for free by visiting the following link: www.centos.org.

CentOS is a commercial distribution of Linux based on the RHEL source code; Since RedHat develops its products through open source software, it tries to generalize its source code, although CentOs releases versions based on the RHEL code and similar to it. CentOS versions rebuild RedHat versions. But there are also differences between them.

CentOS is not RedHat certified because it is based on source code only. CentOS, for the production of binary packages, Uses RedHat public resource packages which are freely available to the public; In fact, CentOS is a free option for business and enterprise users. RedHat has also supported CentOS since 2014 by forming a board of directors between CentOS developers and RedHat to assist open source developers in developing CentOS.

Conclusion

CentOS is one of the most popular, powerful, and professional distributions of Linux, which, due to its structure in the field of servers, provides users all the necessary and professional features; There are many servers today that rely on CentOS stability, security, speed, and management options. It is also a free and open-source computing platform and development environment for most host communities; CentOS is also based on the RHEL source code and offers a powerful enterprise version for free. If you are looking for a stable and secure operating system that you can use for a long time, CentOS is the best option.

In this article, we have introduced the popular CentOS operating system and examined it thoroughly to get a deeper view of CentOS and not make a mistake in choosing the right operating system for your server. I hope you find the content helpful.

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About the Author Liosa F

Love, life, peace and technology are all for the wise man

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