What is SUSE and how does it compare to CentOS?

What is SUSE and how does it compare to CentOS?


Linux is one of the world’s most popular operating systems. It powers most of the top 1 million web servers currently available out there and has led to the inception of many Linux distributions. SUSE and CentOS are two of the major Linux distros.


In this article, we will discuss what they are and how they are different. But, you first need to understand that since these Linux-based systems are open-source, you may find it difficult to maintain them without external support. Packagecloud eases the maintenance burden and lets users focus on what matters most.


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What is SUSE?

SUSE is a company that was established in 1992 in Germany. The firm’s name, SUSE, stands for Software-und-System-Entwicklung (Software and Systems Development) in German. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) is the name of the software that SUSE developed, but people often just use that company’s name when referring to their unique operating system. SUSE is designed to run on servers, mainframes, and workstations. Also, you can use SUSE on your desktop.


The software has a release cycle of three or four years although minor versions get released more often, about every 12 months. SLES goes through strict testing procedures where only stable components can be included in the enterprise software. Thanks to this reason, SLES is known to be more reliable than openSUSE which is an open-source and community-driven project. Among the SUSE products, two of the major products are SUSE Server and Desktop. Let’s learn the major features of each product.


SUSE Major Features

SUSE Server and Desktop have a range of powerful features. Since each of them was built for a different purpose, they have different strengths.


SUSE Server

  • Great cloud support: SLES has a cloud that’s optimized and ready to run. The image can be used in various major cloud providers such as Alibaba Cloud, Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, and Oracle. You can bring your own subscriptions to these major cloud providers and launch on-demand instances, which is optimal for a multi-cloud environment.
  • SUSE Containers: SUSE has its CaaS (Container-as-a-Service) platform that allows you to manage, deploy, and scale containers easily.
  • Modular architecture: You can choose specific functionality from a menu that’s made by Modular+ architecture. You can perform reproducible builds across architectures and Linux distros using SUSE’s Open Build Service technology.


SUSE Desktop

  • User-friendly interface: The SUSE Desktop was developed with design in mind. The desktop version has been improved over and over by accepting community feedback and a design-first methodology. 
  • Integrated search: SUSE Desktop is equipped with an integrated search engine that allows users to quickly find all of their content including documents, emails, chats, web pages, images, videos, and even certain text within a document.
  • Flexibility: One of the benefits of using an open-source software is the flexibility that allows you to modify any element of it. You can highly customize your desktop environment.


These are only some of the many available features. Both server and desktop have evolved over the past few years, and newer versions will surely be released with more enhanced features.       

What is CentOS?

CentOS is also a Linux distribution. The operating system is known for stability and predictability. It was released in 2004 by a small team of core developers but has been grown by wide community support and free sources provided by Red Hat. Because of this background, CentOS Linux is compatible with RHEL or Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Thanks to the open-source nature, CentOS is distributed to the public for free and is redistributable. CentOS is also one of the most popular Linux distributions.


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CentOS Major Features

CentOS has many features that benefit users and professionals across fields.

  • Intuitive UI: Since the first release of CentOS Linux 8 in 2011,  the operating system has always featured GUI and the default desktop environment is GNOME 3.28. The GNOME Display Manager uses Wayland - a display server protocol - as default. With the new protocol, users can have an intuitive user interface.
  • Strong security: CentOS comes with built-in security features. One of them is SELinux or Security-Enhanced Linux. It allows you to define policies toward processes and files, which can prevent hackers from accessing them. Thanks to its enhanced default security features, users can spend less time adjusting security configurations. CentOS regularly downloads updates directly from Red Hat and applies nightly updates.
  • Extensive support: When you run an application in a production environment, stability is essential. If your product runs on an operating system that lasts only several years and gets updates for an even shorter period, it will cause a serious security problem. The major versions of CentOS are supported for 10 years and you can receive security updates when it’s needed.
  • YUM: Yum is one of the most popular software managers. In CentOS, you can use Yum to install, update, and remove packages. The Yum package directories contain numerous useful packages. In addition to Yum, CentOS works well with container and virtualization software such as Docker and Kubernetes since they originated from Red Hat’s OpenShift platform.
  • Community support: CentOS is a popular Linux distribution. When you get into trouble, you will be able to Google your problem and easily get a lot of solutions, tips, and documents. In addition, CentOS writes great wiki pages to guide users to fully utilize the software and assist with troubleshooting.


SUSE and CentOS Comparison

SUSE and CentOS share many similarities since they are both Linux distributions but also have differences.





  • Wide community support and SUSE
  • Wide community support and Red Hat


  • They both support desktop


  • SUSE Enterprise Linux
  • RHEL

Suitable users

  • Advanced and Intermediate users needing a stable distro
  • Beginner administrators who want to experience a community version of RHEL

Package manager

  • rpm
  • yum

Release cycle

  • 36 to 48 months for major version
  • 12 months for minor versions
  • Fixed release

GUI Software Management Tools

  • Supported by YaST
  • Supported by Software Center



In this article, we learned about SUSE and CentOS. They both offer a wide range of powerful features and both have similarities and differences. You will want to consider those factors when you choose either of them. Since they are open-source, if you are not familiar with the Linux distributions, it will be not easy to use them on your own. Packagecloud provides expert-level services to its customers so that they can conveniently use and manage their Linux resources.


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