The open source Linux operating system (OS) is installed on the majority of the world’s web servers, from small personal servers to scientific supercomputers that make billions of calculations per second. Linux is omnipresent because it is essentially a complete operating system with powerful capabilities, which is offered free of cost to anyone. Moreover, Linux is the foundation of a burgeoning ecosystem of free and open source applications, including development frameworks, content management systems, and other utilities, which allow users to build powerful Linux-based solutions to virtually any problem.
The Linux operating system is open source, meaning that anybody can access the source code of the Linux kernel (the core files used by Linux). Furthermore, Linux can be used for any purpose, private or commercial, and it can be customized or transformed without restrictions. For these reasons, a multitude of groups, from companies to hobbyists, have released their own Linux versions, complicating the task of installing the OS on a Linux dedicated server.
If you are interested in purchasing a Linux dedicated web server, you need to know the differences between the various Linux versions, also known as distributions or flavors. In this article, we present the distributions that are currently popular for Linux dedicated web servers. We also look at the main differences between the Linux distributions, as well as the best application for each of them. To understand why Linux dedicated hosting services are so popular, let’s begin with some general information on the Linux OS.
Linux is the long-time premier choice for dedicated servers
The Linux kernel was created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds, a 21 year-old Finnish student, who was frustrated by the limitations of the current operating systems, such as UNIX and DOS. Inspired by the MINIX operating system, a barebones UNIX-based OS built for educational purposes, Torvalds wrote the basis of what is now the Linux kernel. He built the new operating system from scratch and licensed it under the GNU General Public License, which ensured that anyone could use it for any purpose, including commercial, as long as the resulting product was released under the same public license.
From its humble beginnings as an experiment, Linux evolved into a massive phenomenon that shapes the world of technology to this day. Thousands of individuals and companies worked on Linux, and the fruits of their labor were the dozens of Linux distributions designed for all types of devices, from smartphones to supercomputers.
From early on, Linux dedicated servers were hailed as the best solution for creating robust and affordable web hosting environments. Many groups have taken advantage of the permissive Linux licensing scheme and created their own Linux distributions, making Debian, Fedora, or Ubuntu household names in the tech world. For those interested in purchasing a Linux dedicated hosting service, it is important to know the differences between the major flavors made available by Linux dedicated server providers.
Get a Linux dedicated web hosting plan powered by a free Linux distribution
When making a decision about which Linux distribution to use on a Linux dedicated web server, you need to take into account the cost of using the operating system. A little clarification: Linux is a free operating system, but the word “free” is used in the sense of being accessible to everyone. Even though the Linux code is free to use under the GPL license, some companies charge for complementary services, such as support and consultancy.
Nevertheless, the GPL requires Linux developers to release their code to the community, meaning that commercial Linux distributions have free equivalents. Most Linux dedicated web hosting providers offer the possibility of renting web servers running a free Linux distribution. The following are some of the most popular distributions installed on Linux dedicated servers:
Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions for desktop users, well known for its accessibility and easy-to-use graphical user interface. However, Ubuntu Linux is not restricted only to desktop environments; the server version of Ubuntu, called Ubuntu Server Edition includes customizations that make it ideally suited in secure environments, such as memory protection and module hardening. Ubuntu SE supports all the major hardware manufacturers and can handle virtualization through VMware, Oracle, or Citrix technology.
For improved accessibility, you can use Ubuntu SE with a graphical interface, such as the popular GNOME, but keep in mind that the interface needs a certain amount of resources to run. Ubuntu SE comes with five years of free security updates guaranteed, and optionally, you can get technical support for a flat annual fee.
Fedora is another popular community-oriented Linux distribution and is currently the third most used Linux distribution. Fedora is also the community version of the Linux distribution Red Hat Enterprise Linux, developed by Red Hat.
A few characteristics make Fedora suitable for use on Linux dedicated web servers. First, Fedora is the largest distribution supported by a major commercial contributor – most of the source code of Fedora is contributed by Red Hat developers, which ensures the overall quality of the distribution. Secondly, Fedora is known for its security architecture, namely for the Security-Enhanced Linux, a feature that includes advanced access control and other security policies. On the down side, Fedora generally includes new technologies that are updated often, which makes it more difficult to maintain.
CentOS is another Linux distribution based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and is currently the most popular Linux flavor for servers, with almost a third of all servers running on CentOS. CentOS is developed by the Linux community starting from the RHEL source code, meaning that its structure is almost identical with the commercial version.
Among the strengths of CentOS, we can count easy installation and configuration as two of the most popular including regular and tested updates along with a broad and frequently updated support base for hardware. Additionally, CentOS is generally more stable and reliable than Fedora as it includes tried and tested technologies that were included in the enterprise package, even if this means that you won’t have access to the latest features. Nevertheless, in most cases, stable releases are desirable for production Linux dedicated web hosting solutions.
Debian is considered the most influential Linux distribution, with a number of other flavors being derived from it, including Ubuntu. Debian is released in stable, tested packages, which can be easily applied, without the need to reboot the Linux dedicated host.
Debian is highly configurable and capable, but it does have a reputation of being difficult to master by inexperienced users; as an example, software installation is only made through text commands. Another drawback of Debian is the fact that is has a relative long release cycle, which can cause problems if you plan to use it on a cutting edge Linux dedicated host. It is therefore recommended to check hardware compatibility before installing Debian on your Linux dedicated web hosting solution.
JaguarPC is your expert Linux dedicated hosting service provider
JaguarPC has over a decade of experience in offering high quality Linux dedicated web hosting services. Regardless of the requirements you have, JaguarPC works hard to deliver the best Linux dedicated hosting in the industry. JaguarPC’s servers support a variety of Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, and Fedora. If you need to use another Linux flavor, JaguarPC can even come up with custom builds that meet your demands.
All Linux dedicated hosting solutions run on a modern infrastructure, located within world-class domestic and international data centers. And regardless of how demanding your website or web application may be, JaguarPC delivers consistent results, helping you achieve your goals every day.