CentOS vs Ubuntu – Which One to Choose for Your Web Server

CentOS vs Ubuntu – Which One to Choose for Your Web Server

In this CentOS vs Ubuntu comparison, we will aim to overview the key features of both Linux distributions, which will help you pick the right operating system for your VPS.

Choosing an OS for your server can be a really confusing task due to a huge list of available options; especially if you want to go with a Linux distribution. There are many choices, but none of them are as famous as Ubuntu or CentOS.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a professional or a beginner, it usually comes down to choosing between the two options. It’s safe to say that there is no straightforward decision. In this article, we intend to compare CentOS vs Ubuntu with the aim to figure out which one could be the best fit while setting up a server.

Before we begin shedding light on the differences between the two well-matched opponents, let’s first look at brief overviews.

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CentOS VPS server

CentOS is an open-source Linux distribution. Many refer to it as a replica of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), which is considered to be the most widely used in the corporate IT world. CentOS is an enterprise class operating system supported by the community and released back in 2004.

Close similarity to RHEL gives you the luxury to develop in a dominant and one of the best Linux distribution out there. One might say that this already gives CentOS a lead over Ubuntu.

It’s highly customizable, secure, and stable, which is also something to appreciate it for. The close link to RHEL allowed CentOS to have quite a few corporate-level security updates thus making it a safe choice for every user.


Ubuntu VPS server

Based on the Debian architecture, Ubuntu has been a hot favorite for personal and professional use since its initial release in 2004. It is open-source and gets frequent updates to remove any identified bugs. It is laden with a rich set of package groups and features that are capable of meeting the requirements of any project.

Ubuntu comes with a ton of apps. The Ubuntu software center has over 40,000 applications available! Moreover, the operating system is highly customizable and has top-notch security features.

CentOS vs Ubuntu – Main Differences

CentOS vs Ubuntu - Comparing two best linux server distributions

Now then, let’s take a look at the differences between Ubuntu and CentOS:

  1. The biggest difference between the two Linux distributions is that Ubuntu is based on the Debian architecture while CentOS is forked from Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
  2. In Ubuntu, you can download DEB packages using the apt-get package manager. Meanwhile, in CentOS, you have to use the yum command to download and install RPM packages from the central repository.
  3. CentOS is considered to be a more stable distribution compared to Ubuntu. Mainly because package updates are less frequent. This can also prove to be a disadvantage of CentOS. If you want the latest version of a certain application or software, you will have to install them manually.

This does not mean that Ubuntu is unstable or not secure; it’s just slightly less stable compared to its counterpart.

  1. Ubuntu certainly has the upper hand when it comes to tutorials, online communities, and books. Finding solutions to Ubuntu problems are a lot easier than in CentOS due to its fairly smaller community and lesser available documentation.
  2. Ubuntu server has a great deal of support for container and cloud deployments which makes it superior to CentOS in this domain.
  3. If you are a beginner, running CentOS on your server may be a bit harder since RHEL based desktop distributions aren’t widely used. On the other hand, Ubuntu desktop is quite famous and if you have used it in the past, then getting acquainted with an Ubuntu VPS server won’t take long.
  4. If you want to use control panels to offer web hosting services then you should go for CentOS as it offers the compatibility that you would want. Web hosting control panels like cPanel has always focused on CentOS and other RHEL derivatives. On the other hand, Ubuntu doesn’t support cPanel but has quite a few alternatives, such as Webmin/Virtualmin or VestaCP.

The aforementioned are the main differences between the two of the best Linux distributions and it’s not safe to choose one as the ultimate for every user. Picking the right operating system will require a close evaluation of the pros and cons of the two and an analysis of the requirements and desires of the user. With that said, here are our recommendations:

  • If you are a beginner: Go with Ubuntu because it has a larger community, a larger reservoir of free tutorials and a lot more frequent updates to help you stay up to date. Also, if you have used Ubuntu desktop in the past then you will not find any real learning curve while starting with an Ubuntu VPS server. CentOS is a viable choice as well but it might present a few learning obstacles in the start if you are a novice.
  • If you are a business owner: CentOS is the ideal choice between the two if you run a business because it’s (arguably) securer and more stable than Ubuntu, owing to the lesser frequency of its updates. Ubuntu has its pros as well but there can be scenarios where you have to revert to older versions because of a new buggy update. Additionally, CentOS also comes with support for cPanel, which is something that Ubuntu lacks.

CentOS vs Ubuntu – Comparison Table

Based on DebianBased on RHEL
Updated frequentlyUpdated scarcely
No cPanel support (has alternatives)Supports cPanel/WHM
Larger user and developer communitySmaller user and developer community
Greater amount of help available in the form of tutorials and free guidesLesser amount of help available
Easier to learn for beginners that have used Ubuntu desktop in the pastHarder to learn for beginners as there are not many famous desktop distros released by RHEL
.deb packages installed using the apt-get package manager.rpm packages installed using the yum package manager

Final Word

To conclude this CentOS vs Ubuntu comparison, both are famous and one of the best Linux distributions that come with their own set of pros and cons. Choosing one is an easy task if you consider your requirements and are ready to do certain trade-offs. The objective of this article was to provide a comprehensive overview of the differences between these two Linux distributions to ease the decision-making process. If you use Hostinger, you can give both of them a test drive, as you can re-install operating system of a VPS in just a few clicks!

The Author


Domantas G. / @domantas

Domantas leads the content and SEO teams forward with fresh ideas and out of the box approaches. Armed with extensive SEO and marketing knowledge, he aims to spread the word of Hostinger to every corner of the world. During his free time, Domantas likes to hone his web development skills and travel to exotic places.

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John Retchok Reply

July 02 2018

I'm usually a bigger fan of Ubuntu, but it seems that CentOS is a really powerful distro too. It's so hard to decide... :( Overall, nice overview. Thank you!


    Gediminas B.

    Replied on July 02 2018

    It awesome to hear that you found this guide useful! If you can't decide which operating system is best suited for your web server, you can give both of them a try. Here on Hostinger, you can re-install the OS of your virtual server with just a few click in the control panel ;)


Tao Yiing Reply

July 02 2018

Will I get root privileges if I order a VPS from Hostinger?


    Gediminas B.

    Replied on July 02 2018

    Sure! Root access is available with all VPS hosting plans :)


Ari Reply

December 26 2018

Gediminas -- A succinctly written article for a Linux newbie like me. I use CentOS at work and wanted to try to make my own server. This article convinced me to use Ubuntu for home since I want to double the server as a media center. Since Ubuntu is more widely used, I have a wider selection of software I can use, while not necessarily requiring the advanced server features that CentOS offers. Keep up the good work!


Alexander Mirvis Reply

January 03 2019

From a professional point of view, CentOS has always been the prime distro as a server. Especially for Web (Full Stack PHP/MySQL, etc) and VoIP Running Asterisk. It's more stable, more secure and specifically designed to be a server. With UBUNTU, there's just too much junk and many times unstable. I also find CentOS to run much faster as well as a server.



    Replied on April 04 2019

    Thank you for your comment. It helped me to choose centos as servers for my client companies.


Larry Jones Reply

January 30 2019

Really great comparison, THANK YOU! Been a CentOS geek for years but now curious about Ubuntu. Thanks for helping me keep an open mind!


Kuldeep Singh Reply

February 06 2019

Good one mate! Thanks for all the handy info. (Y)


Chris Reply

April 30 2019

Hey Gediminas, thanks for that short overview and your perspective. As a server admin and IT pro i'd like to add an pro for CentOS (you might want to include it as a short side-note). Because CentOS is Based on RHEL it is the cheaper go for any server hardware because it is way more likely to get specific manufacturer support. All these manufacturer develop support upon RHEL and so can be used with CentOS. All the best, Chris


Deepika Reply

September 02 2019

This article has truly epic content!!


nope Reply

September 09 2019

basically: ubuntu is worthless. for servers debian, for desktops mint - but never ubuntu.


Slothopher Reply

August 21 2020

A case that forces me to choose Ubuntu over CentOS: the newest git on CentOS is still despite that the epel and extras repos are both enabled, which is decade old. GitLab runner just can't use this version of git to perform CI tasks. On the other hand, the newest git on Ubuntu is 2.25.x, which works perfectly for GitLab runners.


Slothopher Reply

August 21 2020

Another case against CentOS: the epel managed PostgreSQL 12 on CentOS has an unusual directory structure when installed, making installing plugins a huge pain if eventually works.


Nick Franklin Reply

August 25 2020

We have used Centos VPS hosting for many years along with cPanel for management. Last year (2019) cPanel dramatically increased the licensing costs and as of now (Aug 2020) does not support Centos 8. Centos is still my preferred OS for hosting, but don't want to invest in Centos 7 with cPanel and a short EOL, then in a few years have to upgrade to Centos 8. cPanel will give me platform migration tools which are great and will save a ton of time, but I'm caught now as to whether to stick with Centos or look at alternatives.

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