What CentOS operating system do they install when you rent servers
from server companies?
Typically—and this is not just in the case of CentOS—what is installed by a server company is a bare OS install that is mainly accessible via the command line; meaning no “nice” GUI or desktop. This is not specific to CentOS but pretty much any/all flavor of Linux out there such as Ubuntu, Debian, RedHat, etc…
Differences between distribution types.
So knowing that, here is what I know about the different variants of CentOS OS installs out there:
Live: The “live” flavor of the CentOS install is simply a live/bootable CentOS ISO image. Meaning you don’t install that but rather burn that to a DVD or a USB flash drive and then boot off of that DVD or a USB flash drive. This is good for testing hardware and if you need a minimal portable CentOS OS for use for temporary use for some reason..
Bin: This is the standard CentOS OS install which includes the GUI and other stuff like that. You would burn this to a DVD or a USB flash drive and then use that DVD or a USB flash drive to install CentOS onto another system. This is the preferred install for desktop users and not really appropriate for servers due to the desktop/GUI application “bloat.”
Minimal: This is a minimal version of the “bin” CentOS OS install. You would use this instead of “bin” if you do not need anything but a truly utterly bare CentOS OS install with pretty much no GUI. This is good for server environments where you really only need Terminal access and a core OS. This is most likely what you want to use but just note: It is truly minimal and more-minimal than even an Ubuntu “server”/minimal install equivalent. Read up here for more details on how you might need to install a few packages via
yum install I would have expected would be a part of any minimal install. Apparently you can easily clear up this excessive “minimalism” issue by just running
yum groupinstall base right after installing a minimal OS. So that’s an option as well.
Netinstall: This is a minimal version of CentOS OS that would require a URL to be set for CentOS to download and install the ISO from a CentOS software mirror. The end result would be the same as “bin” but the benefit of a “netinstall” is it’s basically like a “thin client” version of the “bin” install. I would favor this method for enterprise/LAN environments like an office and such.
Which is best suited for a server environment? “minimal.”
So when all is said and done, I believe your best bet to mimic a co-located server company’s environment would be to get the “minimal” version, install as it instructs you to and then—after you finish that base OS install—just run
yum groupinstall base to get the base core of Linux tools on the system setup.
That said, picking hardware and an OS is only the first steps in setting up a server.
But past any of that, setting up your own server is never as simple as just installing the right variant of OS and calling it a day. There is configuring, tweaking and security hardening that has to take place as well if you want to ensure the server is solid and stable over the long hail.
So if you plan on setting up a cluster of Minecraft servers this way, be sure to read up on what pro Minecraft server administrators do to ensure 24/7 uptime and security on their Minecraft boxes. But that is a separate topic/question entirely.