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Five realistic CentOS alternatives for users and businesses

If the news of the death of CentOS – at least, as we knew it until now – caused a sensation, the movement of Red Hat expanding the free subscription to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), albeit to a lesser extent, has also generated its echo. One of the most curious positions is found in the openSUSE community, where one of its members has published an article recommending openSUSE Leap as one of the CentOS alternatives to consider. And no.

openSUSE Leap is an excellent distribution, with a fair bit of support and first-rate stability derived from the code of SUSE itself, with which it shares binary compatibility. Nevertheless, propose it as a CentOS relay is to mislead the potential user, even if it does not have any type of restriction on its use. Simply because of his maintenance period, is not a reasonable option, and is that the ten years of support that CentOS offered is not common outside of business.

But alternatives, there are them. So, we are going to review the most outstanding alternatives to CentOS both for users -individuals, it is understood- and for companies.

Five realistic CentOS alternatives

We insist on the term realistic because alternatives to CentOS can be as many as opinions and use cases, but if what it is about is to find a replacement that meets the main advantages that CentOS offered, the range is considerably reduced. These advantages are summarized in the indicated long-term support, enterprise-grade stability and depending on the environment, the ability to purchase professional support and perhaps maintain RHEL compatibility.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux

It is a truism, but it is also a must: if the thing is going for alternatives to CentOS, what less than starting with the original, especially now that Red Hat has expanded the use of RHEL in all kinds of production environments for free up to 16 machines. For those users and businesses with small workloads, there is no better choice than RHEL.

In addition, the process of migration from CentOS to RHEL is very well tuned and if you need business support, this is the most direct way. RHEL’s standard support price per server starts at $ 799 per year. More information.

Oracle Linux

Continuing with the derivatives of RHEL we could mention CentOS 7 itself, whose life cycle will be the expected ten years; or also to the various forks that have been announced so far. But since we are talking about realistic CentOS alternatives, which are ready today to support production environments at the same level, Oracle Linux is the most prominent. Like CentOS, it is an absolute clone of RHEL, but maintained for almost three decades by a large company; Like RHEL, you have the migration process from CentOS flattened.

The biggest attraction of Oracle Linux is its excellent maintenance, always up-to-date with all system updates and, of course, being totally free and without restrictions, although its basic plan of support per server is somewhat more expensive: it starts at 1,080 euros per year. More information.

SUSE Linux Enterprise

We are now leaving the Red Hat realm and therefore CentOS support to target its main competitor, the veteran SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE). In this case the migration will be more complicated, but for stability and support other than: like RHEL, each version of SLE has its ten years of support, with the possibility of extension. Nothing to do with openSUSE Leap, even though it can solve the ballot in more modest scenarios.

Also like RHEL, SUSE offers free SLE for developers, but in a much more limited way. In business environments, it should be noted, SLE’s annual price per installation, including standard support, starts at $ 799. More information.


Another of the great alternatives to CentOS, valid for users and companies alike, is Ubuntu. The support of its business versions -the LTS, we must bear in mind that we are talking about distributions aimed mainly at servers- is of five years and its unlimited use is completely free. In addition, as part of its business offer – this yes, paid – includes a maintenance extension between 8 and 10 years, depending on the version.

Basic Ubuntu professional support starts at $ 225 for physical server installation, $ 75 for virtual server, and $ 25 for desktop, but by features, the equivalence with the rest of the alternatives would be $ 750, $ 250, and $ 150, respectively. . More information.


The last of the CentOS alternatives we pick up is another veteran, the quintessential community Linux distribution, Debian. But make no mistake: that its development is community, does not mean that Debian is not an option premium to rule any server. Its stability is guaranteed and like Ubuntu, each version offers five years of support, although the community itself can maintain a large part of its repositories for much longer.

The ‘problem’ with Debian is that although there are many companies that are dedicated to providing paid support, it is not the same as going to the same system developer; And that the additional support time is not entirely sure how long it will last, so making very long-term plans can be a business complication.

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Of course, before evaluating these alternatives to CentOS or any other, you have to take a good look at the characteristics of all and carefully compare what is needed to optimally fill the gap, since some functions include certain functions in their support offers, while others offer them free or vary depending on the plan that is contracted or the medium in which it is to be installed.

Fortunately, it is possible to test all of them thoroughly before making a firm decision and there is time to plan a migration, because if you are currently reliant on CentOS 8, its life cycle will not end until the end of this year.