The open-source CentOS Linux 7 operating system is now officially available, providing a free alternative to server administrators that don't want or need a fully supported commercial enterprise Linux distribution.
Short for Community ENTerprise Operating System 7, CentOS 7 is a free community-supported Linux distribution that is based on the recent Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7 operating system that became generally available on June 10.
The CentOS project takes the RHEL open-source code and packages it without any Red Hat trademarks, providing an operating system that is free to use and obtain.
In contrast, the RHEL 7 release from Red Hat is available only on a subscription model, a model that provides users with enterprise-grade support, tooling, certification and services in addition to the server OS itself.
The CentOS 7 release is noteworthy for a number of reasons. For one, it is the first release from the project since it became part of Red Hat. Red Hat officially partnered with the CentOS community in a surprise January announcement.
Another noteworthy aspect of the CentOS 7 release is the speed with which it has become available. When RHEL 6 debuted in November of 2011, the CentOS project was unable to put out their corresponding CentOS 6 release until nine months later in July of 2012.
As CentOS 7 is based on RHEL 7, it includes the same major features such as the XFS filesystem as the default filesystem, providing users with a new filesystem that can scale to 500 terabytes. CentOS 7 also bakes in support for Docker containers for application virtualization.
For prior CentOS releases, the community group only offered ISO images, but the plan now is to have multiple images that can be deployed. Those images include a specific Docker image, and cloud images for HPCloud, RackSpace, AWS and Google Compute.
"A community build system is in the works; we hope to have that functional by the end of this month [July 2014], allowing us to set up a contributor base in the Special Interest Groups to extend and further develop layers and variants on CentOS Linux," CentOS developer Karanbir Singh wrote in his release announcement.