Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!


+ 1
Kali Linux

+ 1
Add tool

Centos vs Kali Linux: What are the differences?


When it comes to choosing an operating system for your needs, there are various options available in the market. Two popular Linux distributions that are widely used are CentOS and Kali Linux. While both are Linux-based operating systems, they have unique features and target different user bases. In this article, we will explore the key differences between CentOS and Kali Linux to help you make an informed decision.

  1. Package Management: CentOS uses the YUM (Yellowdog Updater Modified) package manager, which allows easy installation, removal, and updating of software packages. On the other hand, Kali Linux uses APT (Advanced Package Tool) package manager, which is more commonly used in Debian-based distributions. APT provides similar functionality but with a different set of commands and package repositories.

  2. Default Software and Tools: CentOS is known for its stability and reliability, making it a popular choice for enterprise use. It comes with a minimalistic installation, providing the essential tools and services required for a server environment. On the contrary, Kali Linux is designed specifically for penetration testing and security auditing. It comes bundled with a wide range of hacking and security tools, making it an ideal choice for cybersecurity professionals.

  3. Target Audience: CentOS targets businesses and organizations that require a stable and secure operating system for their servers. It focuses on providing a reliable platform for hosting various services. Kali Linux, on the other hand, is aimed at cybersecurity professionals, ethical hackers, and penetration testers. It provides a platform for conducting security assessments and vulnerability testing.

  4. Release Cycle and Support: CentOS follows a long-term support release cycle, with each major version being supported for approximately 10 years. This makes it a preferred choice for stability-focused environments that require long-term support and backward compatibility. On the contrary, Kali Linux follows a rolling release model, where the system is constantly updated with the latest software packages and security updates. This makes it ideal for users who want to stay up-to-date with the latest tools and features.

  5. Documentation and Community Support: CentOS has a large and active community that provides extensive documentation and support for users. Being used by businesses and organizations, it has a wide range of resources available online. Kali Linux also has a supportive community; however, it is more focused on the cybersecurity community, providing specific documentation and resources for security-related topics.

  6. Default Desktop Environment: CentOS offers a choice of desktop environments, including GNOME, KDE, and Xfce, giving users the flexibility to choose the environment that suits their preferences. Kali Linux, primarily being a command-line focused distribution, does not emphasize desktop environments. It provides a lightweight Xfce environment by default, focusing more on terminal-based applications.

In Summary, CentOS is a stable and reliable operating system targeting businesses and organizations, providing long-term support and a minimalistic server environment. On the other hand, Kali Linux is a specialized distribution aimed at cybersecurity professionals, offering a wide range of security tools, a rolling release model, and a command-line-focused interface.

Decisions about CentOS and Kali Linux
Jerome/Zen Quah

Global familiarity, free, widely used, and as a debian distro feels more comfortable when rapidly switching between local macOS and remote command lines.

CentOS does boast quite a few security/stability improvements, however as a RHEL-based distro, differs quite significantly in the command line and suffers from slightly less frequent package updates. (Could be a good or bad thing depending on your use-case and if it is public facing)

See more
Get Advice from developers at your company using StackShare Enterprise. Sign up for StackShare Enterprise.
Learn More
Pros of CentOS
Pros of Kali Linux
  • 16
  • 9
    Free to use
  • 9
  • 6
    Has epel packages
  • 6
    Good support
  • 5
    Great Community
  • 2
    I've moved from gentoo to centos
  • 8
    Penetration testing tools are pre-installed
  • 8
    Has many penetration testing tools
  • 5
    Runs on both x86 and ARM platforms
  • 3
    Its just debian so it has better support
  • 1
    There's no restrictions

Sign up to add or upvote prosMake informed product decisions

Cons of CentOS
Cons of Kali Linux
  • 1
    Yum is a horrible package manager
  • 3
    Wireless driver issues on some systems
  • 3
    Packages are too large in size as compare to alpine
  • 3
    Outdated versions of common packages
  • 2
    Root GUI setup is a potential security hole

Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

What companies use CentOS?
What companies use Kali Linux?
See which teams inside your own company are using CentOS or Kali Linux.
Sign up for StackShare EnterpriseLearn More

Sign up to get full access to all the companiesMake informed product decisions

What tools integrate with CentOS?
What tools integrate with Kali Linux?

Sign up to get full access to all the tool integrationsMake informed product decisions

What are some alternatives to CentOS and Kali Linux?
Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning ‘humanity to others’. It also means ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’. The Ubuntu operating system brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the world of computers.
Fedora is a Linux-based operating system that provides users with access to the latest free and open source software, in a stable, secure and easy to manage form. Fedora is the largest of many free software creations of the Fedora Project. Because of its predominance, the word "Fedora" is often used interchangeably to mean both the Fedora Project and the Fedora operating system.
Debian systems currently use the Linux kernel or the FreeBSD kernel. Linux is a piece of software started by Linus Torvalds and supported by thousands of programmers worldwide. FreeBSD is an operating system including a kernel and other software.
Amazon Linux
The Amazon Linux AMI is a supported and maintained Linux image provided by Amazon Web Services for use on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2).
The openSUSE project is a worldwide effort that promotes the use of Linux everywhere. openSUSE creates one of the world's best Linux distributions, working together in an open, transparent and friendly manner as part of the worldwide Free and Open Source Software community.
See all alternatives