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I know questions like this are quickly closed according to your rules but this question is not about which one is better.

I have criteria as a Ubuntu user who wants to take a RedHat certification. My office wants me to take it. As I guess files would be arranged in a particular ways in the Debian family, I wanted to use a Desktop OS which is closed to RedHat instead. I am looking at stability, ease of use (I will be developing as well, mostly Java and maven stuff), the one which would not shutdown because of overheating and ideally one with nice package manager like Ubuntu's own.

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What's wrong with CentOS itself? For sure not openSUSE, methinks that is its own thing and not much to do with RedHat. If you are a ubuntu user, probably fedora will suit you best. – goldilocks Sep 13 '13 at 16:10
up vote 5 down vote accepted

You may want to consider a Red Hat Linux Developer Suite subscription, which costs $99. Depending on the certification you're looking at, this may fit exactly what you need. And you can use it as a development system as well.

If free is a necessity, CentOS is probably your closest bet: it is a rebuild from Red Hat-provided sources and endeavors to be as close as possible where legally and technically possible. CentOS can be considered a "downstream" distribution from RHEL -- the packages flow from RHEL into CentOS.

On the other side, Fedora is the upstream distribution for RHEL. If you want to see where RHEL is going next and to contribute to that, Fedora is the place. It is also an excellent functional distribution in its own right -- for your development efforts, if you also track Fedora, you know you'll be going in the right direction for future releases.

Disclaimer: I work for Red Hat on the Fedora project. If you go for the for-pay version, that is awesome for me because it helps feed my family. If you go for Fedora, that's awesome too because that's what I help build. And if you go for CentOS, hey, at least it's in the family.

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It is perfectly feasible to run RHEL or CentOS as a desktop, provided you are willing to live with the fact that you won't always be using the latest-and-greatest software.

If you must use newer software, then the one you should use is the one that RHEL and CentOS in turn derive from: Fedora.

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Even with Fedora you'll likely find that newer things have changed slightly over RHEL/CentOS. OpenSUSE shouldn't even be a consideration given your requirements.

I would recommend that if you want to take a certification class on RHEL then use CentOS, since this distro is specifically geared to people that want to use RHEL without the licensing restrictions.

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RHEL is freely available for download and is closest to what you want (in fact it's exactly what you want).

CentOS is very similar to RHEL, but isn't RHEL. Fedora is based on RHEL, but contains cutting-edge software ages before it ends up in RHEL.

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