CentOS is one of the leading Linux distributions available. It's developed by The CentOS Project, which is an affiliate of Red Hat. As CentOS is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, it's naturally more geared toward servers and workstations, though it can still work well as a desktop operating system for some people. For other most popular Linux distributions please visit our dedicated linux download page.

CentOS excels at being very stable and predictable, the exact qualities you'd hope to find in a server OS. It's very similar to RHEL in most respects except that it's completely free. If a user or organization needs a reliable distribution and can do without the commercial support that RHEL provides, CentOS is a perfect choice.

CentOS with GNOME desktop manager
CentOS with GNOME desktop manager

CentOS Release Schedule

CentOS releases are long term support. Historically each release has always been supported with full updates for at least five years, with maintenance updates available for even longer - very similar to the support cycle for RHEL.

You won't find a lot of bleeding edge software available by default on CentOS, as it prides itself on stability. It's consistently updated but is more tested and careful than a traditional desktop oriented distribution.


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Download CentOS

The CentOS ISO images are available on CentOS's download page. The latest versions are only available for 64 bit systems.

A full installation of CentOS will have the GNOME desktop environment installed. However, many opt to have no graphical manager on CentOS, as this is generally bad practice for servers and enterprise class machines.

Closing Thoughts

CentOS is like a free version of RHEL. Its strengths lie in powering servers and related systems in a commercial environment, but be prepared to do without the professional support. Even so, CentOS has a large and wonderful community of helpful users and documentation. If you need a server OS, give CentOS a shot. If you're more interested in a desktop version of RHEL, you'd probably be happier with Fedora.

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