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CentOS 7: The perfect gift for the Linux do-it-yourselfer

Tom Henderson | Dec. 23, 2014
CentOS 7 comes available either as rented/leased/spun-up cloud instances of varying builds available from your favorite cloud host, or in one of several download-able flavors in server or GUI (desktop-focused) versions.

The CentOS website is nice enough to help qualify the speed of its resource file storage mirrors, Choosing a fast mirror to our network, we fired up the Everything ISO. Our installation choices: Minimal, File and Print, Basic Web, Virtualization Host, Server-with-GUI, Gnome Desktop, KDE Plasma Workspaces, and Development-and-Creative Workstation. We tried them all.

With each server installation selection comes a changing list of "Add-Ons for Selected Environment". Most of these will be deja vu if you've seen Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7. We calculated that there are perhaps 1,840 possible builds, depending on software selections chosen.

Choose "Server with GUI" and the options include, Backup, DNS Name, Directory, E-mail (sic), FTP, File and Storage, Identity Management, MariaDB Database, PostgreSQL, and Print Server, along with choices for High Availability, Identity Management, Infiniband Support, Java Platform, KDE Plasma Workspaces, Large Systems Performance Tools, Mainframe Access, Performance Tools, Remote Desktop Clients, Remote Management for Linux (OpenLMI and SNMP), "Resilient Storage", Virtualization Client(s), Virtualization Hypervisor, Virtualization (image) Management, Compatibility Libraries (for older versions of CentOS compatibility), Development Tools, and SmartCard Support.

Each server-based installation option list is different, but virtually all choices can be made post-installation, too. We launched virtual machine instances, both bare metal and hosted.

Creating them is trivial, but we wish that a PxE boot answer list would be easily created for the varietal types to aid in replication--not a fault of CentOS, rather a failing of server OS makers in general. CentOS 7 can be installed onto an UEFI-protected local hard drive, but if there's already a UEFI boot partition, we recommend manually removing any UEFI occupants first.

No matter the options made at installation or later, it's possible to get many of the component parts as yum downloads, although this might mean adding source repositories, cloning git structures, etc.

Docker appliances, which can subsequently be installed as 'gets' inside their own Docker container/sandbox play as easily as they do on Red Hat. The CentOS 7 substrate, like all current Linux editions, is ready, willing, and able to use Docker components.


CentOS 7 also can be equipped with OpenStack, and other ISOs are available although links on the site were broken through the several visits we made. Building your own ISOs for internal consumption aren't tough, but not as easy as SUSE now makes them. We spun up numerous build variations, including desktop versions.

On the inside, the systemd daemon is the controller of most devices. It's not tough to use, but as systemd is an interloper between legacy scripts and device controls -- it's used plentifully as an arbiter/controller/management interface, it can break things.

System Control Daemon controls much of this distro, as it also controls Red Hat, Ubuntu editions, many Debian editions, and will likely find its way into SUSE. The systemd/syscntrl methodology is also part and parcel to Solaris, and perhaps MacOS- Darwin BSD might pick it up in a fit of compatibility.


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