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Amazon Linux vs Centos: What are the differences?

Introduction: In this article, we will discuss the key differences between Amazon Linux and CentOS, two popular Linux distributions. This information will help you understand the distinctions between the two and choose the distribution that best suits your needs.

  1. Package Management: One significant difference between Amazon Linux and CentOS is their package management systems. Amazon Linux uses the YUM package manager, whereas CentOS uses the DNF package manager. Although both are package management systems, they have different commands, functionalities, and repositories. This difference may influence your choice depending on your familiarity and preference for a particular package manager.

  2. Support and Updates: Another key difference lies in the support and update cycles. Amazon Linux is primarily designed and maintained by Amazon Web Services (AWS), specifically for running on AWS infrastructure. It receives long-term support and is regularly updated to maintain compatibility with AWS services. In contrast, CentOS is a community-supported distribution that focuses on stability and security. It provides long-term support through regular updates and security patches. Therefore, if you are primarily using AWS services, Amazon Linux might be a better choice due to its optimized support for AWS infrastructure.

  3. Default Software Packages: Both distributions include a range of software packages, but the specific packages included by default differ. Amazon Linux is designed to be lightweight and optimized for cloud environments. It includes a base set of packages required for running applications efficiently on AWS infrastructure. CentOS, on the other hand, includes a broader range of packages and is more suitable for general-purpose usage, including servers and workstations. Depending on your requirements and preferences, this difference in default software packages may influence your choice.

  4. Release Schedule: The release schedule is another distinguishing factor between Amazon Linux and CentOS. Amazon Linux follows its own release cycle, and new versions are frequently released to keep up with the latest AWS offerings and services. CentOS follows a more conservative release schedule, providing long-term support for major versions. This distinction is crucial if you prioritize having access to the latest features and updates versus a more stable and supported environment.

  5. Community and Documentation: Both Amazon Linux and CentOS have active and supportive communities. However, due to its association with AWS, Amazon Linux benefits from extensive documentation, tutorials, and resources specifically tailored for running on Amazon's cloud infrastructure. CentOS, being a widely-used community-supported distribution, also has a vast amount of community-contributed resources and documentation. Based on your familiarity and preference for specific resources, this difference in community and documentation focus may be a deciding factor.

  6. Security Features: When it comes to security features, both distributions have robust security measures in place. However, Amazon Linux puts more emphasis on security by including security enhancements and configurations out of the box. The distribution is pre-configured with security extensions like SELinux and hardened kernel configurations. CentOS, while still providing essential security features, may require additional configurations to achieve the same level of security. Depending on your security concerns and requirements, this difference in pre-configured security features may impact your choice.

**In Summary, Amazon Linux and CentOS differ in terms of package management, support and updates, default software packages, release schedule, community and documentation focus, and security features. Depending on your specific needs, preferences, and infrastructure, you can make an informed decision on which distribution to choose.

Decisions about Amazon Linux and CentOS
Jerome/Zen Quah

Global familiarity, free, widely used, and as a debian distro feels more comfortable when rapidly switching between local macOS and remote command lines.

CentOS does boast quite a few security/stability improvements, however as a RHEL-based distro, differs quite significantly in the command line and suffers from slightly less frequent package updates. (Could be a good or bad thing depending on your use-case and if it is public facing)

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Pros of Amazon Linux
Pros of CentOS
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    • 16
    • 9
      Free to use
    • 9
    • 6
      Has epel packages
    • 6
      Good support
    • 5
      Great Community
    • 2
      I've moved from gentoo to centos

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    Cons of Amazon Linux
    Cons of CentOS
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      • 1
        Yum is a horrible package manager

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      What is Amazon Linux?

      The Amazon Linux AMI is a supported and maintained Linux image provided by Amazon Web Services for use on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2).

      What is CentOS?

      The CentOS Project is a community-driven free software effort focused on delivering a robust open source ecosystem. For users, we offer a consistent manageable platform that suits a wide variety of deployments. For open source communities, we offer a solid, predictable base to build upon, along with extensive resources to build, test, release, and maintain their code.

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      What companies use Amazon Linux?
      What companies use CentOS?
      See which teams inside your own company are using Amazon Linux or CentOS.
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      What tools integrate with Amazon Linux?
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