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Centos vs CoreOS: What are the differences?


In this article, we will explore the key differences between Centos and CoreOS. Both Centos and CoreOS are Linux-based operating systems but are designed for different purposes. Understanding their differences can help users choose the most suitable operating system for their specific requirements.

  1. Purpose and Design: Centos is a general-purpose operating system derived from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) codebase. It is designed to be a stable and secure platform suitable for a wide range of applications and use cases. On the other hand, CoreOS is a lightweight Linux distribution that focuses on containerization and is specifically designed for running distributed applications at scale.

  2. Package Management: Centos uses the YUM (Yellowdog Updater, Modified) package manager for managing software packages and updates. It provides a straightforward way to manage software installations, updates, and dependencies. CoreOS, on the other hand, utilizes the Container Linux Update Operator (COSU) for managing system updates and software packages. COSU automatically updates the entire operating system, including the kernel, making it an ideal choice for distributed systems and ensuring the system is always up to date.

  3. Containerization and Orchestration: While both Centos and CoreOS support containerization technologies like Docker and Kubernetes, CoreOS has a native integration with these technologies. CoreOS comes with pre-installed tools such as Container Linux, rkt, and etcd, making it easier to deploy and manage containerized applications. Centos, on the other hand, requires additional configuration and installation of these tools to achieve similar functionality.

  4. Security and Patching: Centos focuses on stability, security, and long-term support with regular security patches and updates released by the CentOS Project. It offers a predictable release cycle and follows strict package signing practices. CoreOS, being a lightweight operating system, adopts an automatic and rolling update model. It regularly updates the entire system, including the kernel, to provide the latest security patches and bug fixes, ensuring a high level of security.

  5. Community and Support: Centos has a large and active community, offering extensive documentation, forums, and support channels. It is backed by the CentOS Project and aligns closely with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux community. CoreOS, while also having a supportive community, has a relatively smaller user base due to its specific use case. However, CoreOS is now part of the larger Red Hat ecosystem, which provides additional support and resources.

  6. Lifecycle Management: Centos follows traditional release models, providing long-term support (LTS) versions with updates and patches for years. It offers predictable release cycles and stable environments, suitable for enterprise deployments. In contrast, CoreOS has adopted a rolling release model where updates and patches are regularly released, ensuring that users are always running the latest version of the operating system. This approach is advantageous for distributed systems that require frequent updates and can automatically handle the migration of applications between versions.

In summary, Centos is a general-purpose operating system focused on stability and versatility, ideal for a wide range of uses. CoreOS, on the other hand, is specifically designed for containerized and distributed applications, providing seamless integration with containerization technologies and automatic system updates. The choice between Centos and CoreOS depends on the specific requirements and use case of the user.

Decisions about CentOS and CoreOS
Michael Fogassy

I have used libvirt in every Linux hypervisor deployment I do. I frequently deploy RHEL or CentOS hypervisor servers with libvirt as the VMM of choice. It's installable via the guided setup for EL-based Linux distros, it uses minimal resources and overhead, integrates seamlessly with KVM and Qemu, and provides powerful CLI for advanced users and experts looking for automated deployments, or via VirtManager in your favorite Linux desktop environment. Best used with Linux VMs, it allows KVM and QEMU direct hardware virtualization access.

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Jaron Viëtor

Using Arch Linux for our systems and servers means getting the latest technology and fixes early, as well as early warnings for potential future breakage in other (slower) distributions. It's been easy to maintain, easy to automate, and most importantly: easy to debug.

While our software target is every recent Linux distribution, using Arch internally ensured that everyone understands the full system without any knowledge gaps.

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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 CentOS
Pros of CoreOS
  • 16
  • 9
    Free to use
  • 9
  • 6
    Has epel packages
  • 6
    Good support
  • 5
    Great Community
  • 2
    I've moved from gentoo to centos
  • 20
    Container management
  • 15
  • 9

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Cons of CentOS
Cons of CoreOS
  • 1
    Yum is a horrible package manager
  • 3

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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.

What is CoreOS?

It is designed for security, consistency, and reliability. Instead of installing packages via yum or apt, it uses Linux containers to manage your services at a higher level of abstraction. A single service's code and all dependencies are packaged within a container that can be run on one or many machines.

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What companies use CentOS?
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See which teams inside your own company are using CentOS or CoreOS.
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