Linux is an extensive family of operating systems developed by both independent developers and private companies promoting their own software to the market. In this article, we will tell you which Linux distribution for servers is best installed in 2022.
Ubuntu is perhaps the most famous OS based on the Linux kernel, originally created as a temporary offshoot of Debian GNU/Linux. The sponsor and main developer of this distribution is the British company Canonical, which specializes in the promotion of free software.
Thanks to the friendly community, Ubuntu regularly receives updates – on average, a new version of the distribution is released every 6 months, Mark Shuttleworth's team provides the OS with security updates for another 9 months. There are also LTS builds – they are released every two years, support is provided for 5 years. Such a long support cycle makes Ubuntu Server the most popular for installation on servers.
Let's go through the key advantages of Ubuntu for servers:
As for the disadvantages, there are only a few:
Now let's move on to another popular OS – Debian.
Debian is the second most popular GNU/Linux distribution, first released in 1993. It is considered the most stable and fail-safe OS for servers and workstations. The main advantage of Debian has been and remains stability and total fault tolerance because all components are necessarily thoroughly tested after each update. Everything that is in the official repository is guaranteed to work stably and will not cause any critical errors in the server operation.
Debian is often used on dedicated servers because it has the following advantages:
In addition, Debian for servers is being developed by a fairly conservative community, so new technologies aren't implemented immediately. On the one hand, it reduces the risk of critical errors and vulnerabilities in the system. On the other hand, sometimes these very new technologies are vital in work.
The Debian server build will please with stability and a high level of security, but it also has drawbacks. In particular, the Systemd initialization system developed by Lennart Pottering is used as part of this OS. It is extremely inconvenient for system administrators, and also violates the main principle of UNIX – "One task – one tool". But this is a rather subjective opinion, and some even believe that replacing the classic init and SystemV with one subsystem is much more convenient.
A non-commercial distribution based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It is characterized by reduced resource consumption and a high level of optimization, so it is best suited for servers that are planned to host a large Internet portal, website or deploy a platform for software development. Current versions of CentOS have a 10-year support cycle, which is an absolute record compared to other distributions.
Advantages of CentOS for dedicated servers:
But you should be aware that CentOS is still initially aimed at commercial projects, so this distribution is not too good for entry-level system administrators. Due to the small amount of documentation and manuals, there may be problems with administration, especially if your level of English proficiency does not allow you to study foreign forums in peace. Moreover, the developers of CentOS 8 announced the termination of support for this distribution, and its final version was released in November 2021. For this reason, many abandon this OS in favor of others with long-term support.
Another free operating system from the family of UNIX-like systems, which is essentially a descendant of the legendary AT&T Unix, was released in 1983. FreeBSD is a full-fledged OS, the unique feature of which is the structure of the version control system tree – here both drivers, kernel source code, and basic user programs are contained in one control tree. That is, all the key components are developed by the same people. This minimizes the likelihood of conflicts at the system component level, the system works more stably and smoothly than other open source distributions.
Thanks to reliable network services and efficient memory management mechanisms, FreeBSD is ideally suited for such tasks:
But FreeBSD does not have a friendly graphical shell, so working with it requires considerable knowledge of the command line.
An important advantage of this operating system is that it is distributed under the BSD license, which offers more freedom compared to the GPL license. So, it is not required to store all the terms of the original license in all manufactured products. Software developed under the BSD license is ideal for developing proprietary applications with closed source code.
Thanks to all these features, many large corporations use FreeBSD. In particular, this OS formed the basis of Netflix Open Connect appliances, and even proprietary operating systems for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita game consoles are based on it. Thus, if you need a server OS to develop proprietary software, then FreeBSD is better suited than any other Linux distributions based on the GNU GPL license. However, today FreeBSD is considered outdated, and in many aspects, it loses to competitors.
A new distribution with the first stable release in the first half of 2021. This OS was created as a kind of community response to the premature termination of CentOS 8 support. Users expected that this operating system would be supported until 2029, but RedHat announced the end of support by the end of 2021.
As a result, the community was dissatisfied and CloudLinux initiated the development of a new distribution, AlmaLinux, which adheres to the same principles as those of classic CentOS. Full binary compatibility with RHEL allows the new build to transparently replace CentOS 8, the package base, software and scripts work fine, so the transition will be as smooth as possible.
The AlmaLinux server distribution is distributed for free, the project is fully controlled by the community, but at the same time, its development is sponsored by CloudLinux, allocating one million dollars a year for support and development.
If you were planning to migrate from CentOS 8 due to the discontinued support from RedHat, then this OS is perfect – to switch, you just need to go to GitHub in for appropriate repository, download and run the desired script. There shouldn't be any problems, at the moment everything is working stably and without critical errors.
An operating system developed in 2010 by CloudLinux, Inc. specifically for the organization of virtual servers. Its main advantage is the availability of flexible and advanced tools for differentiating resource consumption for all users. Here are its main features:
CloudLinux is optimized to ensure the operation of multiple VPS on one physical server, and it is also best for overselling.
This project may be inferior to Ubuntu in terms of popularity, but it still has one of the most numerous communities. Sysadmins prefer this distribution for a number of reasons:
If your server needs a stable distribution with an emphasis on free software, then this option is ideal. The OS regularly receives new updates, along with support for new and relevant technologies, so it will be difficult to find a more interesting option for advanced workstations.
One of the oldest Linux distributions, which was first released in 1993. Developed with an eye to corporate use, Red Hat releases a new distribution every 3 years.
A key feature of RHEL is its long lifecycle – each OS receives support for 10 years after release. Also, there is no DivX support in Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and access to binary update packages is implemented on a paid basis.
RHEL is a paid operating system for servers, it is available in several versions that are optimized for use in various fields:
The fine optimization for specific tasks more than compensates for the fact that you have to pay to use the operating system.
It is worth noting that RHEL uses an rpm-based package management system, and by default comes with many built-in programs that can be deployed on the server to provide additional features. The firewall is configured here through the firewalld utility, which, in fact, is an add-on over the well-known iptables. Initialization is based on systemd and the current versions use GNOME 3 as the graphical shell.
Among all commercial operating systems, this is the most popular Linux distribution for servers, which is characterized by extremely high stability, reliability, and security. This leads to one small drawback – many software versions do not immediately receive updates, but after some time, when they are thoroughly checked for stability. If it is important for you to constantly keep the software up to date, then this OS can create problems. But if you need a reliable and secure distribution with a high degree of stability for deploying corporate projects and hosting websites, then RHEL is ideal.
A free Linux distribution with a GNU software license, which anyone can freely download from Oracle website. Extreme simplicity and convenience of migration is another characteristic feature of this OS – for example, to switch from CentOS or RHEL to Oracle, you only need to replace their rpm packages.
Oracle support costs about 2 times cheaper than using Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), and, in addition, this distribution is finely optimized to ensure the operation of databases. The OS toolkit contains all the necessary tools for virtualization, management, and cloud native computing.
A server platform optimized for the operation of virtual servers and cloud environments. Its advantages:
It is no exaggeration to say that SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is the best platform for running Linux applications on mainframes. It supports several thousand apps for the IBM System z platform, which makes this distribution most preferable for mainframe holders.
If you need VPS or VDS to host websites or provide workstations, contact HostZealot. We offer the possibility of pre-installing all current OSS built on the Linux kernel. If necessary, you can provide an image of your own OS build, and we will install it on the server, or you can do it yourself through the VNC panel.