Which CentOS Version Should I Use?

Alan asked:

I have some used rackmount servers (Dell R610, HP DL180 G6, HP DL360 G5) that I intend to use for on demand video streaming in a colocation environment. I would like to have them all on the same OS to make managing them simple, to have one server (HP DL180) that has lots of storage and super fast seek / transfer that will support multiple edge servers which will cache the media locally and will also have rapid seek but with less storage requirements.

I had originally been using Ubuntu but from previous feedback was told that Ubuntu won’t have the same level of support for the hardware RAID as CentOS and so have been trying to switch that over on the servers.

In previous experiences with managed dedicated hosting, they would have a custom server configuration of CentOS 5 or 6 with all the little bells and whistles like nano (I know it is super easy to install, it is just an easy thing to say it isn’t part of the CentOS minimal install compared with the default from a hosting company).

The software vendor for the media streaming recommends doing some kernel level optimizations, and I am curious if I should stay with CentOS 6 at this point, or go with CentOS 7? It seems version 7 is still pretty new and so not sure if I would get the same quality of support here on the forums, and since the servers aren’t really that new, I imagine there aren’t any hardware items that needs 7.

From a security standpoint, am I shooting myself in the foot to not start out with version 7?

My answer:

I would always recommend that new projects start out with the latest available OS version, unless there’s some overriding need to not do so.

The big stumbling block you may run into is that EL7 cut out a lot of drivers for older hardware, and since you propose to use some rather old hardware here, you may find that you can’t install the operating system. In that case you would have to use EL6 (or upgrade the hardware).

In particular, that G5 server probably has a SmartArray 400 in it, which used the old cciss driver, which was cut from EL7. You might be able to get it to work with the kernel boot command line option hpsa.hpsa_allow_any=1, but no guarantees. The G6 probably has a SmartArray 410, which should work with the current hpsa driver.

The monitoring and management agents provided by HP and Dell also might not be available for EL7 for the particular hardware. If you can live without these, then it’s not a big deal, but they do add sufficient value that you should use them when possible.

View the full question and answer on Server Fault.

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