Debian vs CentOS – A Comparison Based on Webhosting Needs

What is Debian?

Debian Logo* Debian is a project-based around the development of a free, complete operating system based on the work of the GNU Project through the collaboration of volunteers from around the world. The projects primary focus, Debian GNU/Linux, is a popular Linux distribution.

* Debian is known for its adherence to the Unix and free software philosophies and for its abundance of options – the current release includes over fifteen thousand software packages for eleven computer architectures ranging from the ARM architecture commonly found in embedded systems and the IBM eServer zSeries mainframe architecture to the more common Intel x86 and AMD x86-64 architectures found in modern personal computers. Debian GNU/Linux is the basis for several other distributions, including Knoppix, Linspire, and Ubuntu.

* Debian is also known for its package management system (especially APT), strict policies regarding the quality of its packages and releases, and for its open development and testing process. These practices afford easy upgrades between releases without rebooting and easy automated installation and removal of packages.

* Debian is supported by donations through Software in the Public Interest, Inc., a non-profit umbrella organization for free software projects.


* In the beginning there was the .tar.gz. Users had to compile each program that they wanted to use on their GNU/Linux systems. When Debian was created, it was deemed necessary that the system includes a method of managing the packages installed on the machine. The name dpkg was given to this system. Thus the famous `package first came into being on GNU/Linux, a while before Red Hat decided to create their own `rpmsystem.

* A new dilemma quickly took hold of the minds of the makers of GNU/Linux. They needed a rapid, practical, and efficient way to install packages that would manage dependencies automatically and take care of their configuration files while upgrading. Here again, Debian led the way and gave birth to APT, the Advanced Packaging Tool, which has since been ported by Conectiva for use with rpm and has been adopted by some other distributions.

* APT has been working rather well for nearly a decade. OTOH, Red Hats package manager (Yum) is still a rather new and unsophisticated project. The latest Yum still hasn’t caught up to where apt was 5 years ago.

* 50 to 500 times faster than Yum.

Debian Releases

* As of February 2007, the latest stable release is version 3.1, code name sarge. When a new version is released, the previous stable is labeled old stable; currently, this is version 3.0 named woody.

* In addition, a stable release gets minor updates (called point releases ) marked for like 3.0r1.

* The list of Debian releases, their code names and release dates include:

– 3.1 sarge, 6 June 2005
– 3.0 woody, 19 July 2002
– 2.2 potato, 15 August 2000
– 2.1 slink, 9 March 1999
– 2.0 hamm, 24 July 1998
– 1.3 bo, 2 June 1997
– rex, 12 December 1996 1.2
– 1.1 buzz, 17 June 1996
– Upcoming releases:
4.0 etch, release planned in 2007[5] ?.? lenny [1]


CentOS logo* CentOS is a freely available Linux distribution which is based on Red Hats commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) product. This rebuild project strives to be 100% binary compatible with the upstream product, and within its mainline and updates, to not vary from that goal. Additional software archives hold later versions of such packages, along with other Free and Open Source Software RPM-based packaging. CentOS stands for Community ENTerprise Operating System.

* RHEL is largely composed of free and open-source software but is made available in a usable, binary form (such as on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM) only to paid subscribers. As required, Red Hat releases all source code for the product publicly under the terms of the GNU General Public License and other licenses. CentOS developers use that source code to create a final product which is very similar to RHEL and freely available for download and use by the public, but not maintained or supported by Red Hat. There are other distributions derived from RHELs source as well, but they have not attained the surrounding community which CentOS has built; CentOS is generally the one most current with Red Hats changes.

* CentOS preferred software updating tool is based on yum, although support for use of an
up2date variant exists. Each may be used to download and install both additional packages
and their dependencies, and also to obtain and apply periodic and special (security) updates from repositories on the CentOS Mirror Network.

* CentOS can be used as an X Window based desktop but, like RHEL, is targeted primarily at
the server market. Some hosting companies rely on CentOS working together with the cPanel.

List of RedHat Enterprise Linux Clones

* This list is current as of October 30, 2006, ordered by popularity on
* CentOS – 4.4 on 2006-08-30; 3.8 on 2006-08-25
* Scientific Linux – 4.4 on 2006-10-10; 3.0.8 on 2006-10-31
* StartCom Linux – 4.0.3 on 2006-09-18; 3.0.6 on 2006-08-29
* White Box Enterprise Linux – 4.0 on 2005-05-06; 3.0 on 2005-03-14
* XOS – 4.0 on 2005-07-30; 3.0 on 2004-08-24
* GENtOS – 4.4.1 on 2006-10-05
* YOUrOS – 4.4.1 on 2006-10-05
* 4.4.1 on 2006-10-05 GnYOUlinux
* Oracle Unbreakable Linux
* The following clones require payment to download or update:
– Lineox – 4.096 on 2006-08-15; 3.140 on 2006-03-18
– Pie Box Enterprise Linux – 4-U4 on 2006-08-14; 3-U8 2006-07-25
* The following clones have ceased production
– TaoLinux – 4.0 i386 Final Release Available on 2005-04-20; 3.0 Update 4 available on
2005-01-10, Ceased production on 2006-06-14. The web site includes instructions for updating to CentOS for continued updates.

Debian vs CentOS

* Package Set
* Feeds vs Releases
* Package Manager
* Custom Distros
* Other misc,

Package Set

* Quantity

* Debian has a lot of packages. The only Linux which can compete on these grounds, at distro all, is Gentoo.

* 23533 packages.

* Quality

* Debian has over a thousand package maintainers.

* Red Hat systems usually have a much smaller package team.

Package Manager

* Debian incorporates configuration into the installation process. Red Hat hat decided automatic, the hands-free installation was preferable.

* dpkg-reconfigure mypackage to change the settings (Debian).

Custom Distros

Top 10 Distributions
. Ubuntu
. Mandriva Linux
. Fedora Core
. Debian GNU/Linux
. Knoppix
. MEPIS Linux
. Gentoo Linux
. Slackware Linux
. Xandros Desktop

Control Panels

* Plesk is a professional web server management software specifically designed to simplify server management and administration and operating systems. Plesk delivers the stability demanded by Hosting Service Professionals while providing self-administration interfaces for mail,
domain, reseller and server-level administration. domain, reseller and server-level administration.

* Ensim is a sophisticated server control panel system that transforms a server into a professional Web hosting business. Available for both Linux and Windows, Ensim Pro hosting automation software includes all the tools and features service automation software providers need to build compelling, professional-quality hosting providers need to build compelling, professional-quality hosting plans for their shared, reseller and small business customers.

*cPanel is an extremely feature-rich web hosting server control panel system. cPanel also provides an easy web-based GUI for end users of your system and allows them to control everything from adding/removing email accounts to administering MySQL from adding/removing email accounts to administering MySQL databases.

* cPanel runs on a number of popular RPM RPM-based -based Linux distributions, such as SUSE, Fedora, Mandriva, distributions, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and cAos, as well as FreeBSD.Preliminary support for Debian is claimed, although this version has been in a beta state for several years.

* Plesk has two branches of development. Plesk for Linux/UNIX aims at supporting several POSIX platforms, including Red Hat Linux/Fedora Fedora, SUSE, Debian/Ubuntu, FreeBSD and Mac OS X. Plesk for Windows supports Windows Server 2003 operating system.



Article Authored by Rakesh P.G

Author, Rakesh, is a Systems Engineer with SupportPRO. Rakesh specializes in Cpanel and streaming server management. SupportPRO offers 24X7 technical support services to Web hosting companies and service providers.

If you require help, contact SupportPRO Server Admin

Server not running properly? Get A FREE Server Checkup By Expert Server Admins - $125 Value

Leave a Reply