Review: CentOS 7.0 GNOME

A little over two months ago, I reviewed Scientific Linux 7.0 GNOME. The results weren't too pretty. A commenter on that post suggested that I try CentOS 7 to see if the problems are related to the whole Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)/CentOS 7 family or to Scientific Linux 7 specifically. This review aims to do exactly that.

For those who don't remember, CentOS is essentially the free (as in beer) community branch of RHEL. It used to be a separate distribution whose developers took great pains to expunge any mention of RHEL from every part of the distribution, as they did not want to officially license the RHEL trademark. Now, though, CentOS is officially part of RHEL, which should hopefully make life a bit easier for the CentOS developers.

I tried CentOS 7.0 GNOME on a live USB made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like. (As will become clear soon enough, there are no pictures in this review, and for the same reason, this review will be relatively shorter. Suffice it to say for now that the distribution basically looks identical to Scientific Linux 7.0 GNOME from screenshots.)

After the boot menu, I was greeted by a scrolling wall of text. This gave way to the desktop. The first thing that came up in the desktop was a series of prompts for configuring the language, input, and wireless connection settings, which was quite convenient. Otherwise, the desktop is GNOME 3/Classic as was discussed in the previous review.

Mozilla Firefox is the default browser. Once again, I had to download the repository for Adobe Flash and then install the actual package from it to make it work. That went fine, and my laptop's volume keyboard shortcuts were recognized as well. Besides Mozilla Firefox, the rest of the installed packages were essentially the same as in Scientific Linux, including LibreOffice.

I was able to install the binary files for Mupen64Plus 1.5 after a few tries, though it was sluggish and hard to configure. That said, uninstalling that and attempting to install Mupen64Plus 2.0 didn't work at all. Additionally, I wasn't able to install Redshift either. So far, then, my experience with CentOS 7.0 GNOME has only been marginally better than Scientific Linux 7.0 GNOME.

I then tried installing Skype using the same method as in Scientific Linux, where it worked. Here, though, the installation ended in a fatal error, which caused the system to freeze and lock out, requiring a cold shutdown (as the system was no longer responding to keyboard input, not even things like 'CTRL'+'ALT'+'F1'). Sadly, this problem was reproducible. This shutdown process of course erased all the screenshots I had taken, partially accounting for the lack of screenshots (the other part being that I felt too lazy to retake them).

That's where I chose to end my time with CentOS 7.0 GNOME. It seems to basically be the same as Scientific Linux 7.0 GNOME in most areas, better in one area (Mupen64Plus, which isn't a huge deal for me), and significantly worse in one area (Skype, which is a big deal for me). Perhaps it's better suited for enterprise environments. But in any case, once again, I can't recommend this either for home use; I feel like there are much better distributions for that purpose.
You can get it here, though I'm not sure why you would.


  1. Both CentOS and Scientific are straighforward recompilations of RHEL, with trademarks, logos, etc., removed. It's no surprise you found them much alike, because they are essentially identical.

    Flash and any other closed source non-FOSS products violate Red Hat's policy on FOSS, and leave it -- and the customers it indemnifies -- vulnerable to law suits. Ditto CentOS and Fedora.

    While RHEL/CentOS can be tweaked to make it an acceptable desktop (at least for my purposes) both are quite obviously enterprise products, and marketed as such.

  2. you can easily tweak centos to delight by following www.dedoimedo.com

  3. @Anonymous: It wasn't surprising to me either. The main reason that I tried CentOS was because I had issues with Scientific Linux in a previous review, and a commenter there suggested that I try CentOS just to verify whether the issues I found with Scientific Linux are specific to it or general in the family.

    @Kamlesh Sheth: I tried that in this review. That's what doesn't seem to work anymore.

    Thanks for the comments!