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.
CentOS is the most popular Linux distribution for web servers and the only community-supported linux distro listed in top500.org.
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 either an open source or a free software license 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.
In July 2009, it was reported that CentOS's founder, Lance Davis, had disappeared in 2008. Davis had ceased contribution to the project but continued to hold the registration for the CentOS domain and PayPal account. In August 2009, the CentOS team reportedly made contact with Davis and obtained the centos.info and centos.org domains.