CentOS is a community-supported, mainly free software operating system based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It exists to provide a free enterprise class computing platform and strives to maintain 100% binary compatibility with its upstream distribution. CentOS stands for Community ENTerprise Operating System.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux is available only through a paid subscription service that provides access to software updates and varying levels of technical support. The product is largely composed of software packages distributed under open source licenses, and the source code for these packages is made public by Red Hat.
CentOS developers use Red Hat's source code to create a final product very similar to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Red Hat's branding and logos are changed because Red Hat does not allow them to be redistributed.
CentOS is available free of charge. Technical support is primarily provided by the community via official mailing lists, web forums, and chat rooms. The project is not affiliated with Red Hat and thus receives no financial or logistical support from the company; instead, the CentOS Project relies on donations from users and organizational sponsors
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Our purpose is to provide stable Linux solutions for organizations and individuals who do not need strong commercial support to achieve successful operation.
To meet that overall goal, we strive to achieve:
- easy maintenance
- self hosting distribution (one that can build on itself)
- suitability for long term use in production environments
- friendly environment for users and package maintainers
- long-term support of the core
- active development
- community infrastructure
- open management
- open business model
- commercial support - offered by partner vendors
CentOS uses the original sources whenever possible. Under normal circumstances CentOS will NOT add patches to original upstream source packages. The vast majority of changes made will be made to comply with the upstream vendor's re-distribution policies concerning trademarked names or logos. Any other changes made will be spelled out in the Release Notes for the individual CentOS product.