VPS Series: CentOS vs. Ubuntu – What You Need To Know

When looking for the best operating system for your VPS, you’ll come across CentOS and Ubuntu two of the most common options. These two are the most popular options for good reasons. Both have features that make running a VPS easier. They also each give their users a level of control that’s hard to find in other systems.

The one that you choose depends on your individual needs and the features that you want. If you’re having a hard time choosing sides in the CentOS vs. Ubuntu battle, don’t worry. Here’s everything you need to know to decide between the two.

Introduction To CentOS

If you’re familiar with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, we’ve got some good news for you: you’ll probably know enough about CentOS to get started. Most consider it to be a replica of RHEL. It’s an enterprise-class OS with strong community support.

CentOS is very customizable and secure. The close link to RHEL makes it the easier of the two options to use for some people. It’s also lightweight due to every version serving for over ten years. There are no other distributions that can claim that.


Ubuntu came out in 2004 to well-deserved fanfare. It’s an open-source OS that provides users with updates on a regular basis to get rid of bugs in the system. Ubuntu’s features make it capable to meet any demands, whether you’re using it on your personal PC or for a business.

There are also over 40,000 apps that allow you to customize your experience. You can get pretty much anything you need through these applications. Gimp allows users to have top-notch image editing software while Shotcut allows you to edit videos with software that rivals anything produced for Windows and Apple PCs. There are also safety and antivirus apps such as ClamAV designed specifically for Linux systems.

The security features and customization make Ubuntu the choice for millions of users worldwide. Ubuntu supports releases for five years, which is half of the time of CentOS. This is one of the good and bad aspects to this that we’ll discuss below.

CentOS vs. Ubuntu – The Main Differences

The biggest difference you’ll notice is that CentOS is a RHEL clone of sorts. Ubuntu relies on Debian architecture. Whichever you prefer is a personal choice. It’s hard to say which one is better without getting into personal preference.

Ubuntu allows you to download DEB packages with the apt-get package manager. CentOS uses the yum command to download and install RPM packages from a central repository. This is another personal preference question. Some people love using the yum command while others hate it. If you’re on the hate side of the scale, you can skip the rest of the article and go straight for Ubuntu.

CentOS has more stability than Ubuntu due to the less-frequent package updates. That might make you think that CentOS is the clear winner, but there’s one small problem.

Less-frequent package updates means that if you want the newest version of an app or piece of software, you’ll have to install them manually. This isn’t hard to do, but it can be a pain when you’re trying to get things done.

It’s also unfair to imply that Ubuntu isn’t stable…but there’s a very small (some say negligible) improvement in stability if you use CentOS. For the average user, this isn’t a big deal, but for a business, it can be a make or break factor.

Other Differences You’ll Need To Know

If you aren’t familiar with either option, Ubuntu is a much easier “pick up and go” option. There are a plethora of tutorials for Ubuntu, along with a passionate and engaged online community willing to help you out. It’s easy to find solutions to Ubuntu problems. CentOS has a smaller community, although there is still plenty of help online.

Ubuntu flexes its muscles when it comes to container and cloud deployments. It’s superior to CentOS in this regard. There’s no other way to put it.

RHEL desktop distributions aren’t used very often. If you’re new to VPS, Ubuntu is the less intimidating option between the two. Ubuntu’s community is large and vocal, so you’re able to find answers to most of your questions within ten minutes of looking online.

CentOS, however, dominates Ubuntu when it comes to compatibility with control panels. cPanel focuses on systems like CentOS and other RHEL clones. Ubuntu doesn’t support cPanel, but has some other alternatives like VestaCP. CPanel just happens to be the more popular of the two, making it easier to find online support. For some, this is the deciding factor between the two systems.

Regarding speed, this has less to do with CentOS and Ubuntu and more to do with your software. Neither are going to speed you up or slow you down.

If You’re A Beginner, Go With Ubuntu

Ubuntu is your best bet if you’re new to VPS. The online support community can help you work through any problem. The less-frequent package updates mean that you won’t have to manually install updates, and the over 40,000 apps will guarantee that you’ll get everything you want.

Businesses Are Better Off With CentOS

If you’re a business, even a tiny increase in stability is a major deal. Any downtime for your business costs you money, both in the present and future. Customers that can’t view your website because of stability issues are likely to do business with another company.

The ability to use cPanel is a major selling point for CentOS as well, as is the longer support and release cycles. Being an RHEL clone also makes CentOS the more popular choice for business applications.

Personal Preference

All of these points go out the window once you try both of them. Most of the time, the one you’ll choose boils down to what feels right. It’s the same argument between Windows and Mac users. When deciding between CentOS vs. Ubuntu, the decision comes down to what feels natural when you’re using it.

If possible, your best bet is to take each one for a test drive. See which one fills your needs and dive head-first into it.

The good news is that we can help you with whichever you choose. If you have questions about your personal situation and would like to know what the best option is for your Irish based website, contact us today.