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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 list of latest app kits, including Docker 1.3 including OpenStack Havana compatibility (tested), worked as they did in Red Hat 7. CentOS 7 is more of a construction kit than buying the building and getting handed a key--as is with Red Hat. We obtained the latest Docker git clone, and integrated it easily.


You should expect the same performance from CentOS 7 as from Red Hat 7, except that highly clustered configurations may benefit from Red Hat's clustering optimizations that aren't found in CentOS 7. Optimizations for one should work with the other (yes, this is a hint that you'll need to search Red Hat to find answers).

Community support for software package projects such as bundled/configured database and web packages is strong, although without the dedicated personnel that Red Hat features as part of its subscriptions.

Most all Red Hat Enterprise Linux packages should "bolt-up" to CentOS 7 unmodified. Some CentOS and Fedora users have obtained minimal Red Hat subscriptions, then cloned Red Hat's internal support to deploy free CentOS infrastructure somewhat disingenuously-- from a support and community standpoint.

We were somewhat dismayed to find that rigorous passwords aren't enforced and initial root passwords can be comparatively simple. While there's support for secondary authorization devices, CentOS doesn't make initial use of OAuth or long keys.

Herein resides another gulf between Red Hat and CentOS--Red Hat Publications, often written for advanced users, give details for these important security bits.

Installation bugs were non-existent in all of our numerous deployments. Hardware detection, like our experience with Red Hat 7, was never an issue. We found the installation UI to be sometimes leaden, a common complaint between the two. Odd hesitations, especially on slow hardware, was only mildly frustrating.


This is Red Hat's less-supported, living-the-free-life fraternal twin brother. It works really well, but you'll need either an experimenter's mentality, or black-belt Linux skills to deploy this in the wild. None of the edges are harsh, and it has much of Red Hat's polish.

How we tested centOS 7

Five variants/ISOs of CentOS 7 were tested, Everything, minimal, KDE-Plasma, Gnome, and an Openstack-enabled version. We installed these on VMs under ovirt, VMware ESXi 5.0/5.5, Microsoft Hyper-V 3.1, and Xen. Platforms included Lenovo Thinkservers, HP DL580/560/380 Gen8s, VitualBox on Mac Mavericks, and a Samsung i7-based notebook (KDE and Gnome installations).

Our lab network consisted of an HP Proliant MicroServer Gen8 (Windows 2012 with HyperV-3), and two Dell 1925 (VMware ESX 5.1) servers. Our NOC network consisted of two Lenovo ThinkServers (RD440 running ESX 5.5; RD630 running Microsoft 2012 R2/Hyper-V3.1), an HP DL580-G8 (ESX 5.5), HP DL560-G8 (ESX 5.1), and an HP Moonshoot, where we replicated 45 minimal CentOS 7 installs. We tested for hardware compatibility, footprint, payload size at defaults, and comparative performance with similar Red Hat EL 7 installs. We found no real differences in performance and where applicable, similarly selected payloads. All hosts were connected in the lab via a Gigabit Ethernet network, in turn to the NOC network at Expedient in Indianapolis which is connected via a GBE and 10G Ethernet network switched L2/L3 via Extreme Networks Summit Series Switches onto Expedient's core network. No Ubuntu instances were harmed during these tests.


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