In this article, we would like to present a comparison of two Linux distributions – EuroLinux and CentOS. We will also answer the question which one of them is worth considering as a guarantee for meeting the requirements of modern enterprises.
Enterprise Linux distributions are software preferred by the vast majority of enterprises and organizations around the world. They are the first choice among entities responsible for supporting production and mission-critical environments. Examples of Enterprise Linux distributions are: Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®, EuroLinux, Oracle® Linux, AlmaLinux, Rocky Linux or formerly also CentOS. They are therefore the systems that derive from the RHEL® source code. They are relevant when stability and security are the main keystones of platform selection - primarily on servers and workstations, providing them with proven security and high fault tolerance.
EuroLinux is delivered together with professional technical support. It includes expert technical assistance, as well as updates and newer versions of the system (upgrades) Support is provided by architects and engineers in Polish and English, bypassing an automated hotline. The customer has the option of using the ticket system, as well as direct email or telephone contact with an expert. Support also includes access to the EuroLinux Customer Portal, where information about purchased subscriptions, the ability to download installation images and register product-related requests are all in one place. The Customer Portal also provides access to extensive technical documentation and errata information.
CentOS, as a foundation, does not provide technical support for its system. In the unfortunate case of a problem, the user is forced to seek a solution on their own, generating additional costs. Moreover, the proposed solution may not come from a person with expertise. Therefore, it is not covered by any liability in case the system is destabilized. CentOS, as a system derived from the same code as EuroLinux, should also provide a multi-year software lifecycle. However, in 2020, Red Hat, which has owned the CentOS project since 2014, decided to end support for version 8 of the system. As a result, CentOS 8 was only receiving stable updates for about two years from the release date, despite the promise of multi-year updates. In practice, this means that with the end of 2021, CentOS became a development platform only, providing new packages untested for production environments. As a result, its usage involves risks, and the CentOS distribution, by the policy of its owner, has lost the trust of users.
To accommodate for the market needs, EuroLinux also offers technical support for CentOS and other Enterprise Linux distributions. As part of the support, the system receives stable updates as well as security and bug fixes. It is also covered by technical assistance from our specialists.
Packages, software builds
Following a community approach, we provide packages that allow compiling the system from sources in the customer's own infrastructure. In addition, we offer a proprietary solution to automate the software development process (Gaia build system). The packages, their names, and version numbers in EuroLinux are compatible 1:1 with those provided in RHEL®. Therefore, the two systems are compatible with each other.
CentOS provides only some of the packages needed to build software. If the system needs to be compiled, the user is forced to acquire the necessary knowledge on their own and prepare their own build environment.
We provide a universal migration script that allows automatic migration from systems derived from the same source code as EuroLinux: CentOS, RHEL®, Oracle® Linux, AlmaLinux or Rocky Linux. The script was prepared by the same development team that compiles EuroLinux. As a result, the migration process is more refined and takes into account details familiar to architects. The published script has gone through many tests to meet the expected high standards of our most demanding customers. Using the script is easy and safe. It involves entering a single command in the console. The script then automatically switches the patch repository to the one from EuroLinux and migrates the system in use to EuroLinux. Importantly, the applications, data and configuration installed on the system remain unchanged. After the migration, the system will receive proven, stable packages until June 30, 2029. The migration process is reversible.
The CentOS Foundation does not provide the ability to automatically migrate to CentOS from other systems in the Red Hat family. The installation has to be done manually, after which you have to recreate the working environment, as applications and configuration are lost.
The images we provide are regularly being updated for security. This is to include the security patches released during this period. They are applied for the most current release of the system.
The security of CentOS images naturally degrades, as the foundation updates them only with the release of a new software version. Unofficial images provided by third parties are not trusted enough, regardless of the timeliness of the packages.
Older system releases
For customers who continue to use older releases of the system (e.g., version 6), we provide extended support (EuroELS - Extended Life Support). Under EuroELS, we provide critical and important security patches and significant bug fixes. This allows the system to be safely used even in critical environments, at least until mid-2024. This is a key capability for organizations, especially if upgrading the system to a higher release is impossible or very expensive. EuroELS also includes technical assistance with access to a support portal and the ability to contact our architects and engineers directly. Extended support can cover CentOS as well as other operating systems in the Enterprise family: RHEL®, Oracle® Linux, Scientific Linux and EuroLinux.
CentOS allows the use of older versions of the system, but they are not covered by any support or updates. Using an unsupported system is not recommended, as it is unsafe.
In conjunction with the Open Core business model, EuroLinux along with its tools is also available for free. This makes it possible to use the identical working environment as the paid version, regardless of its applications. Therefore, a script written for a critical environment with the paid version of EuroLinux installed will work the same on a server with the free version of EuroLinux, even if specific modular package names are hardcoded into such script. What's more, both environments (paid and free) receive updates at the same time - there are no time discrepancies regarding package builds. The community has the opportunity to make comments and suggestions on EuroLinux development in the publicly available eurolinux-distro-bugs-and-rfc project on GitHub. It was created with the idea that most software developers have an account there. This solves the problem of having to register with other portals like Bugzilla, which are used by CentOS and RHEL®, among others.
CentOS only offers a free version with community support. As we mentioned above, the user is forced to solve possible problems on their own or ask for solutions on online forums, with no guarantee of effectiveness. Bug reports about the project require a Red Hat account, that is the company's that owns the project. As a result, those trying to submit a fix, or independent developers wishing to implement one, must take further steps, often beyond their comfort zone.
CentOS, as a project with a rich history, was for many years the No. 1 choice for alternatives to paid solutions. On the other hand, with the end of providing it with stable support updates, its credibility as a secure server system has come into question since 2022. The solution to this problem is provided by the company EuroLinux, which provides a choice tailored to specific needs - whether that means free use or paid support.