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I have been using CentOS as a home server OS for a while now, I like it a lot, it is very secure and I've learned how to use the root command to get things done, etc. The problem with CentOS though is that their packages are very old/outdated (considered stable for some reason) and I often run into problems setting up some progrmas such as Samba. The good thing though is that it has the iptables firewall and SELinux, which I see as extra security. Another good thing I like is that you need root permission to mount other hard drives (I have one as a backup so that has to be safe). Ubuntu however doesn't have any of these, so is it a lot less secure? I understand I can install a firewall into Ubuntu, I would like to install the same one that CentOS uses if that's possible, however I've tried installing SELinux before...it disabled my Internet.
So what should I do? Id like to switch, but is Ubuntu less secure than because it doesn't have those 2 things CentOS does? Some distros have SElinux and some don't, how secure is it?
New software has bugs! Sometimes a LOT of bugs. Old software is generally considered more stable as there has been time for bugs to surface and be fixed. This is why you'll find that for CentOS the majority of updates are for newly found security holes rather than bug fixes.
If your server is "public facing" and connected to the internet then consider a stable distribution like CentOS, which has been pointed out, is designed as a server O/S.
If you want newer packaged with CentOS then look at the "remi" repositories, Remi will have certain newer packages available (MySQL and PHP for example).
their packages are very old/outdated (considered stable for some reason)
You have to understand that old/outdated and stable are two different things. Outdated is something nobody is using or is just out of time. Stable is something which is just stable and definitely not out of time.
The fact of the matter is, packages which are considered outdated/stable/new, all depend on what type of role they play – for server or desktop.
Those who use servers aren’t looking for cutting-edge version of any package, but instead they are looking for tried and tested / stable version of packages, because the whole company's fate depend on them, especially if the company is heavily depended on IT infrastructure. Furthermore, enterprise Linux are commercially supported and its the responsibility of service provider to provide Long Time Support (also called Life-cycle) for applications which are the ones enterprise customers demand and have to be supported by provider.
The case of apps for desktop users is of different issue.
However, if the users of server still want to install latest applications, then they are free to install.
In your case, as you are using CentOS – community based server, if you want to install latest applications, just install extra repositories like epel, rpmforge, atrpms etc.
Distribution: OpenSUSE 13.2 64bit-Gnome on ASUS U52F
Sounds like you are trying to use your CentOS server as a desktop as well. You dont need the latest web browser, or the latest media player, or the latest Graphical interface in a server.
You only need the services require to function as server and usually you manage the server remotly from your laptop or phone or whatever other device.
Servers usually run headless (no monitor nor keyboard attached)
And like it has been mentioned above in other posts. New software usually hasnt been tested enought to be deployed in a server and it can compromise your data.
A distro that is constantly updating, like Arch, or Gentoo and others out there are not well suited for server. I know this statement will bring lots of disagreement here, my vote goes for CentOS too.
Keep all the latest packages in your laptop and leave your server alone.
I agree with TroN-0074, what do you use the server for? Is it headless? Unless you were installing Samba 4 I can't imagine what problems you had getting it to work. Even an old version of Samba does sharing of drives and printers. Now if you use the server also as a desktop then I can see wanting the latest, greatest (sort of) but as a server, old and stable makes for an "out of sight out of mind" box that seldom if ever needs attention.
Just stay on CentOS. I had until last week a Ubuntu 13.04 Server and wasn`t that awesome as I thought. I encounter few bugs and I don`t recommend it. Get a newer version of CentOS as I do and get rid of Ubuntu.
I mean you are facing problem while installing samba because of old packages of centOS, this quote can't be digested.
Have you searched proper before installing samba on your centOS.
If you would read the link http://wiki.centos.org/HowTos/SetUpSamba
It clearly says in it's first line
Samba is somewhat tricky to setup on CentOS due to both the firewall (iptables) and SELinux protection.
and in last line
Now why know this? Its because you have to know which ports to open and which ports to NOT open for SAMBA otherwise you're not going to get it to work in CentOS.
If you are willing to change your server, nobody can stop you but if you are looking for true and beneficial advice, just stick to centOS.
CentOS is born to be a server.
To the guy who said I am trying to use CentOS as a desktop...why would I? Its a pain to install certain programs and Id rather use Debian or Ubuntu for desktop OS, I understand that CentOS is mainly for servers. Samba works on CentOS and I can connect to it and Ive learned how to set permissions for the folders you want to share with SELinux, it wasnt tricky at all to setup. The problem is I want to to have my server running samba to automatically show up in the Network section of my Windows 7 PC and in order to do that I set it as a WINS Server and make it a master (ive done this) but then I also need to enable nmb or something which whenever I try starting I get "nmb is dead but pid file exists" I have tried deleting the pid file but I get the same error. I heard that Samba4 fixes a lot of these issues and that CentOS has Samba4 in their repositories however when I tried installing it the yum package manager said I have some program that depends on Samba 3.9.9 (I am currently trying to discover which program). So then I heard that ubuntu had Samba4 also and I was wondering if I should make the switch. Ill stay with CentOS. Thanks!