Red Hat Linux Versions: Fedora, Enterprise, and CentOS

December 7, 2017

Guest Author

Many software and operating systems now offer similar services and functions in today’s rapidly advancing IT world. This has made it difficult to determine the “best” OS or software application on the market. Manufacturers are launching readily comparable products forcing organizations to face the reality of being in charge of determining which OS or software application is best suited to their needs. One common operating system for enterprises of any size is Linux. Organizations, for example the New York Stock Exchange, often use one of the Red Hat Linux versions. However, Red Hat Linux comes in different flavors making the task of choosing an operating system seem impossible.

The three most common Red Hat Linux versions are Enterprise Linux (RHEL), CentOS, and Fedora. Breaking down similarities and differences between the distributions this post will help you gain a better understanding of each version. Additionally, we will identify which distribution (commonly distro) best suited for a specific type of user.

Unfamiliar with Red Hat Linux? Read more about it here.

Red Hat Linux Versions

The similarities between the three most popular Red Hat Linux versions often leads to confusion among users and enthusiasts; especially with regards to what sets them apart from one another. It is worth pointing out the common denominator among these three Linux distros is they are from Red Hat.  It must also be noted that although Fedora was initially created using Red Hats’ source code, RHEL is now entirely derived using stable versions of Fedora. CentOS is essentially the same as RHEL but without the commercial license or support.

The following are some categorical differences that exist among these Linux operating systems:

Cost of Licensing

Fedora and CentOS remain absolutely free to use.  Businesses opting for Red Hat Enterprise Linux will be expected to pay for ongoing support and premium licenses.

Focus and Support

Fedora is backed by Red Hat and has continued to be community driven and supported throughout the years. CentOS which can be regarded as a clone of RHEL without the Red Hat trademark and branding, is fully supported by an enthusiastic community of experts.

Stability: release cycle, updates, etc.

Whereas Fedora focuses on quick releases every six months to meet up with technological advancements, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and CentOS are both focused on stability. Additionally, CentOS and RHEL offer a more predictable platform for users.

See a side by side representation of the above differences in the table below.





Cost of License or Support Free Free Support or license fee required

Focus and Support

Community focused Community driven Commercially driven


Stable with less frequent updates Less stable with frequent release cycle Stable with predictable releases and updates


Based on replicating RHEL without any trademark Based on Red Hat’s source code RHEL is based on the stable versions of Fedora periodically

Users of the Different Red Hat Linux Versions


CentOS is typically considered a clone of RHEL without the trademark and branding. As a result, organizations and developers who cannot afford to pay Red Hat’s support fee or have their own in-house support will typically opt for CentOS. CentOS provides stability needed by developers and organizations who find they do not need Red Hat support.


Fedora is best suited to individuals and organizations who want to benefit from quick releases of new features and functionality. Fedora is widely considered a great platform for Devops. Typically used by developers and small organizations who need to carry out regular testing for new functionalities and features


When it comes to running business critical services and applications, paid support provided by Red Hat Enterprise Linux trumps every other distribution. Therefore, most large corporations will continue to choose this option when it comes to launching their apps or virtualization servers.

Confusion regarding the link between Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora and CentOS is not uncommon and often stems from the fact that they all originate from the same source code. However, the key difference between them lies in whether users are willing to pay for support or cater for frequent/infrequent releases and updates. Nevertheless, whichever option is chosen, users can be rest assured that the core functionalities of these Linux distributions remain the same.

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