So you’re getting a server. Why would you? Most likely, the main reason is your online project growing.
You are getting a dedicated server or a virtual private server. Again, most likely, you’ve already made your choice.
At this point you are tempted to choose one of Linux flavors to install on your server, be it CentOS, Ubuntu or Debian.
Feel hesitant? You shouldn’t. Here’s why.
Linux doesn’t cost a dime, it’s free. Free as a free beer, and free as a freedom of speech. There are no one-time fees to get Linux, there’re no license fees, no royalties.
You’re not even required to sign up or provide your CC details to download a Linux distribution of your choice.
The sweetest thing is that it’ll always remain free – don’t expect this changing. Ever.
The server itself has certain costs associated. These depend on CPU, amount of RAM, size of HDDs and other hardware boxed into your machine.
Naturally, you want to be able to use maximum of these resources you’re paying for. Linux comes handy here – it’s friendly to system resources, as a matter of fact, it’s going to consume considerably less server power for running applications than, for example, a Windows-based solution.
Linux is an open source operating system. Its code is being worked on by hundreds (if not thousands) of developers all over the world making one of the most community-oriented OSes.
SELinux (Security-Enhanced Linux) – one of Linux features has been developed by the United States National Security Agency (NSA). Enough said?
Security is probably the widest known and recognized feature of Linux. Your server isn’t going to be a target for viruses as there’re simply no viruses for Linux.
According to Linux.com, the United States Department of Defense is the “single biggest install base for Red Hat Linux” in the world. IBM, Google, Amazon, as well as many others use Linux for their business operations.
So, without doubt, Linux is your choice to run any web-based project – either a simple blog or a full-featured online shopping cart.
Unlike other operating systems, Linux is packed with applications. In most cases you don’t even have to bother looking for and installing additional software to get your website up and running.
Linux is the preferred platform of web developers since early 1990s. In fact, most popular web technologies, including but not limited to PHP, MySQL, Perl, Java were created and are meant to run on Linux.
Under your control
Way more configuration options are available in Linux when comparing, for example, to Windows. You’re the one who will choose what will be running on your server and what will not. You are free to modify any component of the system according to your needs, likes and preferences.
A few hundred Linux distributions were built by humans and for humans aiming to fill virtually every niche of specific needs.
Believe it or not, the same Linux distribution may work on a prehistoric Pentium-III and on modern high-end cluster with gigabytes of RAM and terabytes of disk space.
Do you still imagine Linux as a command-line interface only? Well, in many cases console remains the main tool. If you don’t like this and prefer GUI – go ahead, get cPanel or Webmin and start administering your server right in browser window.
We’ve mentioned the awesome Linux community already. Besides elegant code it’s the source of various information on Linux. We can’t imagine any Linux-related question still unanswered.
Comes in many different flavors
You can choose yourLinux. Among several hundred distros available you will for sure find the one most suitable for your needs. There is no such thing as ‘the best Linux distro’, there may only be a correct choice made for your needs and likes.
Some widely used options are:
CentOS is based on the source code of RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). One of its benefits is that if you have some packages that work under RHEL you are likely to get them to work in CentOS.
This distribution also has great support in their community forum.
CentOS has a lengthy release cycle, the benefit of this is that you don’t have to upgrade to newer versions often. However, you might have certain difficulties with newer packages and latest technologies. So if you’re aiming at bleeding edge technologies CentOS is not your choice.
Ubuntu became popular very quickly as the desktop OS. Obviously, Ubuntu Server became a favorite of many because they were already familiar with it.
This distro gives you a choice of using either LTS (long-term support) stable version or the latest releases for bleeding edge solutions, thus being a perfect alternative to CentOS.
The major benefit of this distro is that each release regarded by the community to be public ready is really stable. Debian installation works as the ‘server edition’ by default, although Debian doesn’t actually have editions (desktop or server). You can install KDE or Gnome or any other desktop manager you like and it’ll turn into a desktop OS – great for developers who’d like to keep their desktop / development and production environments in perfect sync.
Other distros include OpenSUSE, Gentoo, ArchLinux, Fedora and quite a few others. On a separate note, there exist BSD-like OSes (FreeBSD, NetBSD, etc) which are Unix-like breeds.
All these still grow in popularity, serve rather specific needs or are mainly aimed at enthusiasts and researchers.
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