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I'd like to know what are the difference between Ubuntu and CentOS. I'm new to the Linux world. Please help me understand which one is good for me to start out.

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I would also recommend a third flavor, Linux Mint if you come from Windows world. Ubuntu's current UI is more similar to OS X whereas that of Mint is more similar to Windows(upto Win 7) –  tumchaaditya Jan 19 at 3:19
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10 Answers 10

The basic differences between CentOS and Ubuntu is CentOS is based off of Red Hat and Ubuntu is based off of Debian. If you are looking for which is better for you I would just suggest to browse through their forums and see which one goes more your way. Personally I would say Ubuntu would be better for you just because I have had friendlier conversations with their forums for desktop means. In my point of view CentOS is more a server distro.

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If you (cuthieu) don't know linux, start with Ubuntu. –  osij2is Nov 10 '09 at 21:23
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There's lots of differences, and for that matter there's lots of other Linux distributions.

The one I think is most likely to matter for a new user is package management, by which I mean how you install most software. I like Ubuntu's manager (from Debian Linux) much better than the RPM that I'd assume CentOS uses (being the noncommercial version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux).

Therefore, I'd recommend Ubuntu.

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There will probably be some arguments around this statement, but for the most part CentOS is more focused on being a good server OS, while Ubuntu is more targeted towards being a good desktop.

Now, I've used CentOS as a desktop, and it does fine; and you can set up Ubuntu to be a fine server, but in both cases it'll take a bit more fiddling than if you were to decide what you want to do and pick a distribution geared towards that.

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Actually there is a server version of Ubuntu. You don't have to use Ubuntu Desktop. ubuntu.com/products/whatisubuntu/serveredition –  CarlF Nov 14 '09 at 3:15
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it's a matter of taste, I'm sure you can run decently a server with both of them.

As already mentioned, Ubuntu is more Desktop oriented, if you Like Ubuntu i would have a look at Ubuntu LTS. However, my personal pref would be the mother of Ubuntu LTS, and that is Debian "stable".

Use what fits your needs, and what you can handle best.

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I think you should compare Ubuntu to Fedora, and CentOS (and RHEL) to Debian.

Ubuntu and Fedora are more "bleeding edge" than the more stable Debian and CentOS.

But whenever making comparisons, all will have their advantages and disadvantagers in certain situations, e.g. you should not use Ubuntu or Fedora for important production servers. They are however quite suitable for desktop and development purposes.

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I've said it answering another question: use the one your computer-savvy friend uses. That way you can easily get help if there's a problem. If you're the only one using a particular distribution in your little circle, all debugging will fall on YOU.

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in their fervor to compete with OS X, Canonical has set up Ubuntu as a well-marketed beta-testing campaign for Debian. CentOS is basically beta-testing for RHEL. I don't have time to beta-test software these days so I run Debian stable.

Big plus for Ubuntu's usability and "Fun Factor" but minus for stability. Debian is a better introduction to Linux in general, stable, and so light it can run on a toaster.

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Wasn't Fedora beta-testing for RHEL? CentOS is mostly identical to RHEL (and also has stable software), the difference is that CentOS is free. –  xfix Feb 25 '13 at 7:16
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I agree with most of the posts in this forum. For serious - near enterprise - level then CentOS would suit you perfectly.

For example, cPanel doesn't work on Ubuntu; if cPanel is a must have then you might have to consider Red Hat-based.

Ubuntu is a good, easy to use desktop and a perfect starter server for those who are willing to learn Linux and don't know where to start.

I have tried both of them and I really had a hard time with Ubuntu, even though it was the system I know the most. Example, Ubuntu is fast moving and unstable.

From a server point of view, haven't you had to download a new update to find out the new update has changed vital settings to your drivers such as the network card etc. Sometimes, Ubuntu stops updating.

For a desktop, these issues are easily solved but having to work with a command line is another story when dealing with a headless server.

Therefore choose the most used in enterprise, which is Red Hat/CentOS.

Also another difference between the two is the package management systems, RPM is not very helpful in relation to dependencies installation, as it is much easier using debian installer.

If you want an user friendly desktop for a Red Hat-based server then choose SUSE Linux enterprise servers or other Novell prodcts.

My advice is to use CentOS for business.

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The short answer is: it depends. If you are new to Linux and going after your LPIC certification then I recommend CentOS. Ubuntu does not have some of the standard Linux structure i.e. no /etc/inittab ..etc. Ubuntu and like most of the answers above have already stated, is a desktop oriented O/S.

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CentOS is perfect for those looking for a highly stable version of Linux that offers enterprise-level reliability. Specially for Hosting Server.

Ubuntu is the best choice for newbies and the most user-friendly Linux distribution, offering strong community-based support and a consistent release cycle. Thus for me, Debian (Ubuntu) master race, I find CentOS clunky and generally old plus the repos are so out of date that even Jesus Christ remembers them.

Debian is pretty up to date and it has the lovely point of Debian stability.

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This seems to be a rather highly subjective and opinionated answer rather than one based on fact; as such, I find little value in it. –  YLearn Jan 19 at 4:37
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