CentOS vs Debian | Differences Explained

Choosing the right distribution can be difficult for anyone, and understanding them in detail is key. While selecting the server you should know what service you will run on the system and what you expect from the OS. If you have recently started using Linux, you will find both CentOS and Debian on the list.

CentOS and Debian both are the best options when choosing a GNU/Linux distribution to install them as servers.

In this tutorial, you will learn how CentOS and Debian are different in architecture, package management, upgrading, and more.


The CentOS is downstream of the commercial RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) distro that was released in 2004. CentOS stands for Community Enterprise Operating System which comes with a strong RHEL connection and stable performance. It is one of the best Linux distributions that provide an open-source operating system with a free enterprise-class computing platform. CentOS uses slightly older packages that are free of bugs and errors, that is why it is more reliable.


  • Reliable
  • More secure
  • Long maintenance and repair cycle
  • Ability to use free RHEL commercial features
  • It provides great support for desktop applications
  • Has great commercial support


  • Upgrading to the newest version is difficult
  • Does not support many architectures and filesystems
  • New version releases almost after a decade


Debian is the upstream distribution of Linux that serves as a base for other Linux distros including Ubuntu. Debian is a Unix-like OS that is made up of free open-source components and was released in 1993. Debian is the base of many Linux distros including Ubuntu, and LinuxMint. It has no commercial support, is fully maintained by users, and is mostly used in servers and desktops. One of the key features of Debian is the package management system, which provides the excellent ability to update, upgrade and install packages. Debian offers three channels, test, stable and unstable. The stable channel has regular updates and fewer bugs possible.


  • Open-source OS and highly flexible
  • Various options are available for customization
  • Supports many filesystems, architecture, and libraries
  • Easy to upgrade from one stable release to another


  • Enterprise-friendly features are not available in Debian
  • Doesn’t have an extended support cycle

CentOS vs Debian | Differences Explained

The key differences between CentOS and Debian are:

Features CentOS Debian
Release Year 2004 1993
Architecture x86_64/AMD64

CentOS7 supports POWER9

Package Format RPM Deb
Package Manager YUM/DNF APT/dpkg
Filesystems XFS, EXT4 XFS, EXT4, ZFS
Stability More stable Less stable
Support Supported by a large market community Less market value as compared to CentOS
Release Cycle Minor versions released after a long gap Usually released after two years
Upgrade Difficult to upgrade Easy to upgrade
Ease of use Does not have an easy GUI User-friendly GUI
Package Number It has limited packages Various packages available in the default repository

Bottom Line

You should pick a distribution based on your technical requirements, and internal resources. If you want to run the RHEL-compatible distro and are looking for stability then go for CentOS. On the other hand, if you want a user-friendly and more up-to-date operating system then Debian is the right pick for you.

About the author

Zainab Rehman

I'm an author by profession. My interest in the internet world motivates me to write for Linux Hint and I'm here to share my knowledge with others.