Jul 10

Top 4 Linux Distributions for Servers: Tailor it to Your Needs

Linux doesn’t have a large market share on personal computers, but it powers a big chunk of the server world. More than 30 percent of Web sites use Linux as an operating system, W3Techs reports. Linux distributions have a number of advantages over the Windows server environment, such as open source code, better security and lower cost of ownership. When you’re selecting a server operating system for a Linux VPS, you have a variety of distribution options.

1. Debian Linux

Debian Linux is, by far, the most commonly used distribution for servers. There are several reasons why Debian is such a well-loved OS, and why individuals and businesses choose it over commercially supported distributions such as Red Hat. Debian is incredibly stable and doesn’t even need to be rebooted for system updates. Its hardware compatibility is among the best for Linux distributions, so chances good are your server hardware is compatible. The stability and security of Debian are also at the top of the pack, due to extensive package testing and user bug fixing.

2. CentOS/Red Hat Enterprise Linux

CentOS/Red Hat Enterprise Linux are two distributions that go hand-in-hand, although they serve different markets. CentOS is the open source version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It is more widely used because users can make changes to the code, it doesn’t require a commercial support package and updates are available more frequently. Red Hat Enterprise Linux has a high cost, but it’s also incredibly stable and reliable due to extensive testing of all packages, kernels and any other OS changes. Red Hat focuses on scalability, cutting down data bottlenecking, conserving power and providing a powerful development platform that is secure and stable. It includes virtualization software as a core part of the operating system, making it perfect for a variety of server functions.

3. Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu Linux is incredibly well known for its desktop operating system, but it has plenty of benefits for server use. Ubuntu is found on about six percent of Web servers, and it’s gaining popularity in the cloud computing world as well, ZDNet reports. The Long Term Support edition of Ubuntu provides the stability needed for a server environment, but it maintains upgrade-ability by allowing newer kernels to be used if the hardware or software requires it. OpenStack is supported on Ubuntu, making it a shoe-in for the cloud market. Ubuntu has a 2-year upgrade cycle for its long-term support OS, so it takes plenty of time to work out bugs and security issues before releasing any updates.

4. Fedora

Fedora is another Red Hat Linux variant that gets some usage on servers, although it’s primarily designed for desktop usage. It has the advantage of being free and open source, so you get around the support package necessity of the Red Hat Enterprise edition. While it’s not designed specifically for servers, the operating system has plenty of functions that work well in a server environment, such as a stable core and good security. However, its update life cycle is significantly shorter than other Linux distributions, so there is no long-term support in place, which is not an ideal situation for a server.

What Linux distribution do you prefer for your servers? Share in the comments.

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