Pop!_OS vs CentOS: Similarities & Differences!

Credits:

Pop!_OS

CentOS

In this article let us have a look at 2 very popular distros Pop!_OS and CentOS and see where each distro shines so that you can pick one that best suit your needs!

For those of you in a hurry, here is the short version of the answer.

The Short Version Of The Answer

What are the differences between Pop!_OS and CentOS? The main difference between Pop!_OS and CentOS is Pop!_OS is meant for users who need a Ubuntu-based gaming distro while CentOS is meant for beginner administrators who wish to experience the community version of RedHat’s RHEL

The table below highlights the important differences between the 2 distros

Pop!_OS CentOS
Organization Name Pop!_OS is a distro being developed by a company named system76.

Organization Type: Company

About the organization: CentOS started as the community version of RHEL and later started getting direct support from RedHat similar to Fedora

Organization Type: Community backed by RedHat

Expertise Level Needed Beginner Intermediate/Advanced
Based On Ubuntu LTS Release RHEL
Target Use-cases General-purpose Distro.

Best Use-case: Gaming on Linux

Other Use-cases: General use as a laptop distro

Specific purpose Distro.

Best Use-case: Enterprise and server uses

Other Use-cases: System admins who wish to try out RHEL

Software Support 7/10

Out of the box software: 3/5

Software Repository: 4/5

8/10

Out of the box software: 3.5/5

Software Repository: 4.5/5

Hardware Support 7/10

Official driver support: 4/5

Support for older hardware: 3/5

7/10

Official driver support: 4/5

Support for older hardware: 3/5

Hardware Resource Needs Middleweight Middleweight
Support 5/10

Paid support: Available (free for system76 hardware owners)

Community: 3/5

Documentation: 2/5

8.5/10

Paid support: Not Available

Community: 4/5

Documentation: 4.5/5

Ease of use 9/10

Beginner level

7/10

Intermediate/Advanced

Stability 8/10: Very stable

Based on Ubuntu LTS release and hence Pop OS is a very stable distro!

9.5/10 Very stable
Release Cycles Fixed Release

Every 2 years after the release of Ubuntu LTS

CentOS Linux: Fixed Release

(Around once 4 years)

CentOS Stream: Rolling Release

The graph below summarizes the table and compares the 2 distros and shows us how they compare with each other on various factors (Higher the points the better that particular feature is in a given distro)

That is just the short version of the answer, let’s go ahead and look at the longer and more informative version and learn more about the similarities and differences between 2 distros.

The Linux Distributions World

The word Distro is short for “Distribution”. Since the Linux source code is open for everyone to see, large communities started evolving to bring together Operating Systems suited towards specific needs/goals.

These “specific needs/goals” include, but not limited to the following.

  • producing documents
  • writing programs and creating software
  • editing pictures, videos, audio and multimedia-production related works
  • store sensitive information by securing the operating system so that no one can hack into it or
  • just browse the internet and consume media.

Say a community of people just wanted to browse the internet with their computers, then there is no point giving them the software to write programs in. Thus since every community’s needs and goals were different these communities started distributing built images of this operating system with all the essential tools installed. These prebuilt images are called distros!

If you wish to know more about the reason behind the presence of so many choices in the Linux World, I suggest reading the article given below.

Reasons Behind The Existence of SO MANY Linux Distros: An Analysis!

The Main Factors of Comparison

The factors mentioned above are just a small list of 100s of factors that differentiate distros. If you are either switching from some other OS to Linux or you are in the process of choosing your next Linux distro and you are confused which one to choose, you need to have a look at these top 5 decision-making factors

  • Factor#1: Good Match with your Particular use-case
  • Factor#2: Support for your favourite software
  • Factor#3: Hardware Support and Proprietary Driver Support
  • Factor#4: Your level of expertise in Linux
  • Factor#5: Hardware Resource Needs

I have written a separate article explaining these factors which you can find in the link below

Top 5 Factors To Choose Between Linux Distros!

Let’s have a look at each of these important factors and see how Pop!_OS and CentOS compare against each other.

Factor#1: Good Match with your Particular use-case

By use-case, I mean the type of work you are going to be doing on your computer. Linux distro world originated because of the difference in use cases.

Pop!_OS’s goal is wildly different from that of CentOS’s.

Let’s have a brief comparison between Pop!_OS and CentOS in terms of goals, target users and best use cases to employ these distros.

Pop!_OS CentOS
Goal To be an elegant alternative to Ubuntu, with a focus on ease of use and performance To be the community version of RHEL
Target users General users who need a good-looking distro with good support for gaming System admins who wish to get a flavour of RHEL’s features and security
Best Use-Cases to Employ the Distro Best Use-case: Gaming on Linux

Other Use-cases: General use as a laptop distro

Best Use-case: Enterprise and server uses

Other Use-cases: System admins who wish to try out RHEL

Factor#2: Support for your favourite software

If your main work involves some specific software or latest versions of a given software then that becomes a decision-making factor for choosing a Linux Distribution. So before fixing on a given distro, be sure to google if that distro has official support for your main software needs.

The factors you need to be considering include the following

  • Out of the Box support: The software that the distro ships with.
  • Repository Support: The curated software that is available on the official repos
  • Type of release cycle: This decides the trade-off between up-to-date software and stable tested software.
  • Availability of Graphical Software managers
  • Package manager used: This can decide the ease of which you can install and uninstall software

Let’s see how Pop!_OS and CentOS fair up against each other in the category of Software support

Pop!_OS CentOS
Out of the Box Software 3/5: Comes with just the basics 3.5/5

Comes with just the basic apps as this distro is meant for system admins and not a typical everyday Linux user

Repository Support 4/5: Enjoys Ubuntu’s big collection of packages 4.5/5

The CentOS is based on RHEL which mean you get access to all the RHEL packages!

Type of release cycle Fixed Release

Every 2 years after the release of Ubuntu LTS

CentOS Linux: Fixed Release

(Around once 4 years)

CentOS Stream: Rolling Release

GUI Software Management Tools Available

Pop Shop

Available: Software centre
Package manager used APT and snappy dnf package manager

The bar chart below summarizes the table above. As you can see, CentOS is better than Pop!_OS in terms of Out of the box software support. CentOS is better than Pop!_OS in terms of Repository support.

Hence, CentOS wins the round of Software support!

Refer to the article below if you wish to learn more about package managers.

A Beginners Introduction To Linux Package managers: apt, yum, dpkg & rpm

Factor#3: Hardware Support and Proprietary Driver Support

Not all Linux distros support proprietary drivers officially. Depending on your computer’s hardware, you may or may not have open-source driver support from the manufacturers. This is especially true for hardware such as graphics cards and network cards. Hence it is a good idea to take “driver support” into consideration while choosing your next distro.

The factors you need to be considering include the following

  • Distro’s Policy of use of opensource vs proprietary 3rd party software
  • Official driver support by Major Companies
  • 3rd party driver support from official repos
  • Support for older hardware

The table below shows how these 2 distros compare in terms of Hardware support.

Pop!_OS CentOS
Distro’s Policy Proprietary drivers officially supported Only opensource officially supported
Official driver support by Major Companies 4/5, since based on Ubuntu LTS, the drivers provided by major companies like NVidia are made available for PopOS users. 4/5
3rd party driver support 3rd party repos available 3rd party repos available
Support for older hardware 3/5: Ubuntu has dropped support for 32bit processors, hence KDE neon will not work on older machines 3/5: CentOS dropped support for 32-bit processors, but driver support for older hardware other than processor is good

The bar chart below summarizes the table above. As you can see, both CentOS and Pop!_OS got the same points when it comes to official driver support. Both CentOS and Pop!_OS got the same points in terms of support for Older Hardware.

Hence, this round is a tie between CentOS and Pop!_OS!!

Refer to the article below if you wish to have a look at some of the top distros in terms of hardware support.

Best Distro For Software And Hardware Support: A Comparison!!

Factor#4: Your level of expertise in Linux

Depending on your level of expertise in Linux, the choice of the distro you need will vary. This is because of the following factors

  • Ease of use: beginner, intermediate, expert
  • Paid customer support: available, not available
  • Online community support: great, good, okay, not good, no support
  • Available Documentation: Great documentation, Good documentation, Okay documentation, no documentation

Let’s see the level of support available for Pop!_OS and CentOS and see how they compare against each other

Pop!_OS CentOS
Ease of Use beginner 7/10

Intermediate/Advanced

This distro is meant for admins, hence some might not be available

Paid Customer Support Available: Pop OS sells hardware with their distro preinstalled and offers lifetime support for users! Not available, but you can always upgrade to RHEL and get the support needed with minimal changes as CentOS is essential the same RHEL!
Online Community Support 3/5: PopOS has a growing online community 4/5: good
Documentation 2/5: Okay documentation, focused on beginners’ tutorials 4.5/5 Great documentation

The bar chart below summarizes the table above. As you can see, CentOS is better than Pop!_OS in terms of online community support. CentOS is better than Pop!_OS in terms of Documentation.

Hence, CentOS wins the round of User support!

Factor#5: Hardware Resource Needs

This is an important factor if you are planning to employ Linux on a computer with limited hardware resources. This may be an old machine or a new one with less than stellar specs.

The factors you need to be considering include the following

  • Category: Lightweight or Middleweight or Heavyweight
  • RAM Requirements to have a snappy system &
  • Minimum processor requirements

Let’s see how Pop!_OS and CentOS fair up against each other in terms of Hardware resource needs

Pop!_OS CentOS
Category Middleweight Middleweight
Minimum RAM requirements 2GB

4GB Recommended

1.5GB minimum
Minimum Processor Requirements dual-core 64bit recommended (no minimum requirements given out officially) Only 64-bit processors

Refer to the article below if you wish to have a look at a step by step guide for choosing a Linux distro for your computer’s specifications.

A Complete Guide For Choosing A Distro For Your Computer’s Specs..!!

The Results!

Let us know go ahead and see the results of our comparison! Have a look at the Bar chart below.

As you can see Pop!_OS wins in Ease of use.

CentOS wins in Software support, Hardware Resource needs User support and Stability.

There is a tie between the 2 distros in Hardware support.

I suggest you pick the distro that best suits you based on this graph. For example, if user support is more important to you, then pick the distro that has the best user support!

Summary

To summarise the article here is the comparison table from the beginning of the blog again.

Pop!_OS CentOS
Organization Name Pop!_OS is a distro being developed by a company named system76.

Organization Type: Company

About the organization: CentOS started as the community version of RHEL and later started getting direct support from RedHat similar to Fedora

Organization Type: Community backed by RedHat

Expertise Level Needed Beginner Intermediate/Advanced
Based On Ubuntu LTS Release RHEL
Target Use-cases General-purpose Distro.

Best Use-case: Gaming on Linux

Other Use-cases: General use as a laptop distro

Specific purpose Distro.

Best Use-case: Enterprise and server uses

Other Use-cases: System admins who wish to try out RHEL

Software Support 7/10

Out of the box software: 3/5

Software Repository: 4/5

8/10

Out of the box software: 3.5/5

Software Repository: 4.5/5

Hardware Support 7/10

Official driver support: 4/5

Support for older hardware: 3/5

7/10

Official driver support: 4/5

Support for older hardware: 3/5

Hardware Resource Needs Middleweight Middleweight
Support 5/10

Paid support: Available (free for system76 hardware owners)

Community: 3/5

Documentation: 2/5

8.5/10

Paid support: Not Available

Community: 4/5

Documentation: 4.5/5

Ease of use 9/10

Beginner level

7/10

Intermediate/Advanced

Stability 8/10: Very stable

Based on Ubuntu LTS release and hence Pop OS is a very stable distro!

9.5/10 Very stable
Release Cycles Fixed Release

Every 2 years after the release of Ubuntu LTS

CentOS Linux: Fixed Release

(Around once 4 years)

CentOS Stream: Rolling Release

Hope you have got enough data to choose between these 2 amazing distros!

And with that, I will conclude this article!

I hope you guys enjoyed this article and learned something useful.

If you liked the post, feel free to share this post with your friends and colleagues!

Related Articles

Here are some of my other articles that might interest you!

What Is The Best Linux Distro? Analysis & Comparison..!!

A Step By Step Plan To Learn Linux..!

Best Linux Distro For Workstation: Analysis and Comparison!!

A Complete Guide For Choosing A Distro For Your Computer’s Specs..!!

Best Distro For Software And Hardware Support: An Analysis.!!

Distro-Hopping, What, Why & How Explained!

Reasons Behind The Existence of SO MANY Linux Distros: An Analysis!

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