CentOS 6 vs Debian 6?

Sorry about all of the threads today, but I’m just about to order a new server and wondered if you had any thoughts about Debian 6 vs CentOS 6 - for use with Virtualmin.

I found it a bit of a pain installing Ruby (couldn’t get rbenv to work) and Postgres 9 on my current server which is CentOS 5.8 - so am considering moving to Debian (I like their philosophy too - as well as their reputation for being an excellent web server). Plus there seems to be a lot of talk about how CentOS is ‘dying’ :confused:

I’d be running a handful of PHP/mysql sites and all my new sites will be Rails/postgres. The only other thing I need really is the ability to send/receive email for each domain. No stats, no spam or virus filters etc.

Anyway, I just wondered whether you had any thoughts about the two? Which do you run? Which would you recommend for me (based on the packages and versions I require) and which is most recommended for Virtualmin?

Thanks in advance.

Both are excellent server operating systems, and both are grade A supported systems for Virtualmin. I’d recommend you choose the one you are most familiar with, rather than looking for one to be better or worse than the other…they each have advantages and disadvantages, but it’s a wash for most users when taken as a whole.

We run Scientific Linux 6 (an RHEL rebuild, like CentOS, so it is roughly identical to CentOS) on our Virtualmin.com servers, and have been quite satisfied, and we ran CentOS versions all the way back to 3 before that (and Fedora before that). But, I’m sure we could do everything we do on Debian, as well.

Both currently have pretty modern versions of the packages you’re using. We’ll probably add a bleeding edge repo in the future to track newer versions of PHP (and maybe other packages) as time goes by, as we did for CentOS 5. Debian makes this less necessary, as it has OS repos that provide newer packages (though the stability of those repos is rarely as good as the stable repos).

Use what you know, is the best advice I can offer. If you don’t know either, use what you can get the most reliable help for (which is currently probably still CentOS with regard to servers, but Debian/Ubuntu is still rising in popularity).

Since when is Centos dying?

Thanks for taking the time to comment Joe.

I am still undecided. CentOS was a pain to upgrade postgres 9, even installing Ruby was a bit more involved than I thought - and I just couldn’t get rbenv to work which would have been my preferred method (as it allows you to use different Rubies per project).

I like that Debian is behind (or underneath) what is probably the most popular Linux distro out there (Ubuntu) so I guess will be a popular server distro choice for those who are growing up on Ubuntu now. Plus I like the Debian philosophy about open source software.

But mainly it’s because they have more up-to-date packages of what I need, mainly Postgres and Ruby (or that they seem easier to install - than on CentOS).

I did manage to get Ruby 1.9.3 and Postgres 1.9 on my 5.8 CentOS box in the end, but ended up breaking virtualmin… maybe it was a blessing in disguise.

Perhaps I’ve just got itchy feet - and I feel like trying something new (I don’t really know enough about CentOS to say it’s what ‘Im used to’ tbh).

Either way, if it doesn’t work out I’ll just get CentOS put on there :smiley:

Thanks again for your time - I shall post an update once I finally decide…

Sorry just noticed your post Ronald. I read a blog post and a thread that were ranting about it (can’t find them now tho sorry - had about 50 tabs open)

I ended up sticking with CentOS as I only had a few days left before my old server had to be renewed (email stopped working on it so I had to os reload or move to a new server) and so I stuck with what I knew.

Partly because I am testing a new datacenter too, so wanted to compare like for like.

However, I think in the next few months I will be moving to Debian - but might have to give Virtualmin a miss… because on my VM I couldn’t get it to play with Postgres 1.9 (https://www.virtualmin.com/node/22414)

I really like apt on Debian, it just seems more elegant than yum, and of course as you said you are not having to go through several hoops before changes/security fixes are filtered down.

Keep us posted on how you get on!

I currently use CentOS 6.x (or to more precise Scientific Linux, because of the “time issues” with the volunteer centos dev team that work on in their spare time ;-).

But I am planning to switch to ubuntu/debian soon, because of the following three reasons

  • Virtualmin folks have to compile and package httpd to run suxec from /home, which is a pain (delay in security updates etc first you have to wait for redhat -> centos and then from centos to virtualmin :wink:
  • On centos you can not manage/enable apache modules with virtualmin
  • Usually it takes a few months until you get a major or minor update (after a RHEL release)
  • Why use a clone :slight_smile:

I am not in a hurry though, still looking for a reason why to stick with scientific linux (it has been very stable, just to make that clear).


I just wanted to toss out that when comparing distros, and specifically when looking at Debian vs Ubuntu, an advantage that Ubuntu has is it’s longer support life.

Debian has a somewhat unpredictable support life, though new Debian versions come out roughly every two years (and are supported a year after that).

The Ubuntu LTS releases offer a very predictable 5 year support cycle.

There may be other benefits and drawbacks to each, but support life weighs heavily in my book :slight_smile: