CentOS – Community ENTerprise Operating System

CentOS 5.3 for the i386 and x86_64 architectures has been released today. I usually do not reproduce such announcements, but this CentOS release is somehow special to me.

During the last 7-8 years, I have used Red Hat Linux, some early CentOS releases and Fedora on my home server. In the beginning, this server existed just for fun running over a 56kbps line (I was probably its only user at that time). Later on, having upgraded the internet line, I decided to host G-Loaded on it. Fedora has been running on that server for the last 3.5 years. I never had any real issues with it, except perhaps for some major system upgrades using yum. Other than that, it has been stable as a rock. However, one drawback of using Fedora as a server is its limited life span. Well, when you play around the server all day, that’s hardly a problem. But, when spare time becomes really limited, this becomes a big issue and a good reason to switch back to an operating system that is intended to be used on servers. During the next weeks I will gradually replicate the Fedora server’s configuration on a virtual machine running CentOS and, when I judge that all things run smoothly, I will perform the migration of the real server to CentOS.

On the other hand, about 4+ years ago I had switched from Microsoft Windows to Fedora for my desktop needs. My experience with Fedora as a desktop so far has shown that this operating system does not actually help me meet my goals as far as the desktop computer is concerned. Fedora is one of those OSes where all the development and testing takes place. Its own goal is to be innovative and provide the user with the latest technologies. But, this inevitably makes it a rather buggy operating system. Things that work today may be broken tomorrow. I have tried really hard to get used to this unpredictable way of computing, but I cannot do it any more. So, I have decided to switch back to something more stable and predictable.

Two of the candidates for my desktop are CentOS and Windows Vista. I chose those two because I know them very well. My decision is not driven by my intention to contribute back to the community through this particular use of one of the aforementioned operating systems. If that was the goal, I would stay with Fedora or migrate to Ubuntu, OpenSuse, Gentoo or any other Linux distribution that represents the so called “cutting edge”. I need a desktop operating system that is reliable, stable, predictable and easy to use. As far as CentOS is concerned, this comes at the cost of using older versions of software (by default), for instance it ships with OpenOffice 2.3 (it is easy to upgrade though). In the case of Windows, stability, reliability and predictability have to be bought and also the “license to use” is bound to the hardware. Well, nothing is really free in this world. Everybody has to make choices.

Strictly judging by the use of a particular operating system as a desktop, one thing I would like to put some emphasis on is that a CentOS user does not differ much from a Windows user. Both choose a predictable system and pay the necessary cost (whatever it might be) in order to accomplish their goals. Moreover, since both of those OSes have already been extensively tested by others, the users’ primary goal is not to contribute back to the community in the form of bug-hunting or beta-testing, which is probably one of the most important parts of the software development process. Of course, both CentOS and Windows have bugs, but it would be a joke to compare the type and the number of problems that arise in these OSes to the issues a Fedora/Ubuntu/OpenSuse/Gentoo etc user has to face.

If any user of a conservative Linux distribution (Debian-testing included) feels insulted by being compared to a Windows user, I apologize. It was not my intention to insult you or make you feel uncomfortable in any way. A user of a conservative Linux distribution may contribute to the FOSS development by other means, but what I try to analyse here are the criteria upon which the choice of an operating system is made and what that choice practically means.

But, that is enough with this topic.

What this post is about is my announcement that I officially migrate to CentOS for both the server and the desktop. I am also considering migrating to Windows Vista as far as my desktop is concerned, but this will depend on how my desktop experience with CentOS will be. Time permitting I will be closely following the development of Fedora through virtualization and, as usual, report any issues I encounter.

CentOS – Community ENTerprise Operating System by George Notaras is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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About George Notaras

George Notaras is the editor of the G-Loaded Journal, a technical blog about Free and Open-Source Software. George, among other things, is an enthusiast self-taught GNU/Linux system administrator. He has created this web site to share the IT knowledge and experience he has gained over the years with other people. George primarily uses CentOS and Fedora. He has also developed some open-source software projects in his spare time.

2 responses on “CentOS – Community ENTerprise Operating System

  1. Evaggelos Balaskas Permalink →

    [CentOS-announce] Release for CentOS-5.3 i386 and x86_64

    There are no packages yet, but over the next
    few weeks we hope to have a policy and process in place that allows
    users to submit and manage packages in the contrib repo.

    so why bother?

    Greek msg:

    Διαβάζοντας πυκνά συχνά το blog/posts σου, με το συγκεκριμένο post έχω περισσότερες ερωτήσεις και αντιπαραθέσεις από όλα τα υπόλοιπα :) Και θα χαρώ κάποια στιγμή να πιούμε μια μπύρα (καφέ/τσάι/νερό) παρέα και να τα πούμε

  2. George Notaras Post authorPermalink →

    >> There are no packages yet, but over the next
    >> few weeks we hope to have a policy and process in place that allows
    >> users to submit and manage packages in the contrib repo.

    > so why bother?

    Well, there are the 3rd party repositories, but using them without caution and critical thought it is very possible to break the system or have major issues when upgrading to a newer release of the system. When CentOS is used as a server, then I guess it can be easier to decide which 3rd party repositories you need to use. But, if it is used as a desktop, then mixing 3rd party repos is almost inevitable.

    If I had the necessary spare time, I would go through the process of learning to use a Debian-based system. At least I would not have to deal with all those issues related to packages from different repositories.

    Greek msg:

    Η χαρά θα είναι αμοιβαία :)

    Ευχαριστώ για το σχόλιο.