CentOS (Community Enterprise Operating System) is a Linux distribution that is based on the source code of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). CentOS aims to provide a free and open-source alternative to RHEL, offering a stable and reliable operating system for both server and desktop environments.
Key features of CentOS include:
- Stability: CentOS is known for its long-term stability and reliability. It follows the same release cycle as RHEL, focusing on security updates and bug fixes rather than introducing new features. This makes it a popular choice for production servers and critical systems where stability is a priority.
- Compatibility: CentOS strives to maintain binary compatibility with RHEL. It uses the same package management system (RPM) and software repositories, allowing users to install and run applications built for RHEL without compatibility issues.
- Security: CentOS places a strong emphasis on security. It benefits from the security updates and patches provided by Red Hat, ensuring that vulnerabilities are addressed promptly. The CentOS community also actively monitors and maintains the distribution’s security.
- Community-driven: CentOS is developed and maintained by a community of volunteers. It benefits from the collective effort of contributors who work to ensure the quality and reliability of the distribution. Users can participate in the community forums, contribute to documentation, and collaborate on the development of CentOS.
- Server-oriented: While CentOS can be used as a desktop operating system, it is particularly well-suited for server environments. It offers support for various server-related applications, including web servers (such as Apache and Nginx), database servers (such as MySQL and PostgreSQL), mail servers, and more. CentOS is commonly used in web hosting, cloud computing, and enterprise server deployments.
It’s worth noting that in December 2020, Red Hat announced a shift in its strategy for CentOS. Instead of providing CentOS as a downstream version of RHEL, they introduced CentOS Stream, which serves as a rolling-release distribution that closely tracks the development of RHEL. This change received mixed reactions from the community, as it impacted the long-term stability and compatibility traditionally associated with CentOS.
However, the original CentOS 7 and CentOS 8 releases will still be supported according to their respective end-of-life timelines. Additionally, alternatives like CentOS clones (such as AlmaLinux) have emerged, aiming to provide a similar experience to the classic CentOS.