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What is CentOS? Everything You Need to Know

Posted on by Jake St.Amour | Updated:
Reading Time: 5 minutes

When you’re considering which Operating System to use for web hosting, there are many options available to you. We’re going to discuss 5 reasons you should choose CentOS 7 and the strengths of the platform. CentOS has been the preferred Linux distribution in the hosting industry for many years, and it was only recently that this distro was overtaken by Ubuntu Server as the primary OS used for web hosting.

CentOS logo

So, Let’s dive right in…!

Reason #1: Security

In today’s world, security is the primary concern that comes to mind and CentOS has multiple security features built-in. One of the ways CentOS helps to protect you from cyber-attacks is by utilizing Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux). Lock and Key

SELinux is an access control mechanism that can enforce rules on processes and files, based on policies that you define. One of the most beneficial features is that it reduces vulnerabilities on privilege escalation attacks; If a process is compromised, the attacker would only have access to the normal functions of the process, and only the files that process has been configured to have access to. Because CentOS is more secure out of the box, it is preferred as the starting point as less initial configuration is needed from the start. CentOS regularly pulls backports (or updates) directly from RedHat and pushes those nightly updates out quickly.

Reason #2: Extended Support

One thing that’s important to remember for anyone running an application in production is stability and, support for the platform. If your application stack is expected to last for 7 years, and the OS it’s built on will only be receiving updates for the next 4 years, you’ll run into some security problems once the OS reaches end of life.support

With CentOS, major versions are supported for 10 years and will receive security updates as needed. CentOS 7 was released on the 7th of July 2014, and will be supported until June 30th, 2024. CentOS uses a very stable (and oftentimes more mature) version of its software and because the release cycle is longer, applications do not need to be updated as often. This allows for developers and major corporations who utilize it to save money as it decreases costs associated with additional development time. Fewer upgrades also mean less time downtime for updates. CentOS also supports nearly all hardware forms on the market today, including support for older hardware types. This allows users to maintain a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) when considering long term use, including the cost for hardware maintenance. For these reasons, CentOS is preferred by larger corporations and developers that require a more reliable and mature OS which has a longer release cycle. Additionally, because it is a free and open-sourced Linux distribution, no out-of-pocket cost is needed there.

Reason #3: Package Management

Adding on to the benefits extended support, if you have an application or site in production, you don’t want it to change, or have the packages updated when you need to run a specific version. CentOS uses the YUM (Yellowdog Updater Modified) package manager to keep your system up to date.software

This makes the operating system very modular meaning, you can easily add and remove features as you’d like. CentOS is extremely flexible in its usage and has the ability to be configured to accomplish and accommodate almost any type of task. The wide variety of software titles allows it to function as a database server, mail server, web server, application server, file server, FTP server proxy server, and the list goes on and on. If you need to set up a broad-based system that can handle a single task or a wide array of functionalities, CentOS fits the bill. Modern versions of CentOS are also able to take advantage of the latest containerization, virtualization and Micro Services platforms such as Docker and Kubernetes. Because these technologies derived their support directly from RedHat’s OpenShift platform, the utilization of these staging and deployment services make the inherent administration of the applications that run on those platforms that much easier.

Reason #4: A Wealth of Documentation

docsBecause CentOS is a widely used platform throughout the web hosting world, it has become the de facto industry standard. Another of the benefits of its wide use is the amount of information and documentation available for it. There is a broad community of developers and users who share intelligence and other issues regularly increasing its overall value as a preferred OS. There are multiple avenues of instruction including forums and sites that have guides about setting up and configuring CentOS properly. CentOS provides a excellent wiki found here in the CentOS wiki.

Reason #5: Management Panel Support

panelLastly, CentOS can support multiple management platforms including cPanel, InterWorx, WebMin, DirectAdmin, Spacewalk, CWP, Plesk, ISPConfig, Virtualmin, Vesta CP, and multiple other platforms. These management panels make it easy to host multiple sites on your server as well as keeping all the core processes and server procedures easily managed. You can set up email, websites, FTP access, and many other functions for users on your server with an easy-to-use web interface. These panels allow for complete management of all the complex tasks associated with server management with only a couple of clicks. With features like backup management, software installation (e.g. WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.) DNS, backup, network, databases and additional security features like CSF firewall, brute force protection, and virus scanning to name just a few!

These are only a few of the benefits that CentOS can provide a server owner!

Final Thoughts

Do you still have questions about the benefits of using CentOS? Our Support admins are standing by to provide more info on these and other hosting information, especially those discussed in this article. If you need assistance setting up your server or need assistance with the data outlined above, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 800.580.4985, or open a chat or ticket with us. We will be happy to assist,

Contact Us:
Toll Free 1.800.580.4985
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About the Author: Jake St.Amour

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