One of the most crucial choices that you’ll have to make on a Linux VPS hosting solution is what flavor of the Linux OS you’d like to run. The benefit of any Linux OS is that you’ll be able to pick the flavor that best suits your needs, but it can be difficult to choose from the many versions of the Linux kernel that are available for free online. Currently, one of the most popular Linux OS on the market is the Community ENTerprise Operating System or CentOS, and is used in approximately 30% of all Linux web servers.
The Basics of CentOS
CentOS is based on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), but is free instead of available only as part of the Red Hat community. The final product of CentOS is very similar to that of Red Hat and is considered to be an enterprise-class OS, without Red Hat branding or logos. CentOS is RPM based and will closely follow trends started by Red Hat, meaning that patches and upgrades are common for the OS, and migrating to a RHEL solution in the future can be easily accomplished thanks to similar architecture. CentOS is currently running version 6 of its OS, with 6.1 in development by the community. Its corresponding RHEL release was in May of 2011.
CentOS has approximately 6,000 packages available for use at any given time, and while this is a smaller number than Ubuntu or Debian, that should not be taken to mean that CentOS VPS hosting is in any way inferior. Because of its close association to RHEL, many of these packages will work very well with commercial apps. Packages can be installed on your CentOS Linux server using YUM (Yellowdog Updater, Modified), which will commonly be pre-installed in a CentOS VPS.
CentOS also uses what is known as a long release cycle, in which major versions of the OS are released every two years, with partial releases of updates in the middle of the cycle. This can be beneficial as it will provide support for packages over the long term, and will allow you to fine tune your packages. Upgrading CentOS is best done from CDs, though a live upgrade is also available.
Who’s Using CentOS?
CentOS is currently in use by a wide variety of businesses. CentOS is stable and well-tested, and the support provided by the community is stellar, meaning that institutions looking for a secure and problem-free Linux VPS hosting solution would do well to consider a CentOS distro. Support for CentOS is maintained by the community, which offers free mailing lists, forums and chat rooms, and relies entirely on donations and sponsors in order to further its work. Because it is based on the Linux kernel and GNU GPL, there are many offshoots of the basic OS that can be used to tailor a VPS to your specific needs.
Streamlining with a Control Panel
CentOS is a powerful operating system, and CentOS VPS hosting allows you to almost anything you need to with your space on the server – from a dynamic website to a secure commercial platform or an off-site development space, CentOS can help you make the most of your VPS.
In order to manage CentOS and your VPS most efficiently, however, you may want to first choose a control panel to help administer your VPS – cPanel and Plesk are the most popular options currently being used in conjunction with the CentOS distro. Plesk is known for its power and the large number of new updates and features that come with every version, especially in regards to building secure commercial sites. cPanel, meanwhile, has a streamlined graphical UI that many newer users find appealing, and that provide a great deal of at-a-glance information to help manage multiple sites and ease the burden of the learning curve. No matter which control panel you choose for your CentOS distro, making the most of its features can in turn make CentOS far easier to use.
CentOS VPS hosting offers the benefits of a stable platform with regular updates, in addition to the knowledge that it is the most popular and one of the most well-supported Linux distros on the Web. For any company that needs an RPM-based solution or may transition to RHEL in the near future, CentOS is a viable option.