The sky is the limit when it comes to web server options. But which one should you choose? You could go for a basic Ubuntu server, or go for something more advanced and powerful like CentOS 7. Which is the Best Linux Distribution for Web Server? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a look at all of the different distributions and find out which one is the best for your purposes.
In this article, we will list the Best Linux Distribution for Web Server based on the following considerations: data center capabilities and reliability in relation to supported functionalities and hardware, ease of installation and use, cost of ownership in terms of licensing and maintenance, and accessibility of commercial support.
Best Linux Distribution for Web Server
What is Linux?
There are many different Linux distributions available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. To find the best distribution for your needs, you first need to understand what different types of Linux distributions exist.
There are three main types of Linux distributions: Debian, Fedora, and Ubuntu. Debian is the most popular and well-known distribution, while Fedora is a more recent release that offers a variety of innovative features and opportunities for customization. Ubuntu is a blend of Debian and Fedora, providing an overall moreTOODLESOME experience.
Which Linux distributions are best for your needs? This question can be difficult to answer without further information, as there are so many options available. You can find a comprehensive guide to choosing the rightLinux distrobution here.
Best Linux Server Distros
1. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)
Second on the log is Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), an open-source Linux distribution developed by Red Hat, for commercial use. It is based on Fedora, which is a community-driven project: a great deal of software that is available on RHEL is first developed and tested on Fedora.
RHEL server is a powerful, stable, and secure software for powering modern data centers with software-oriented storage. It has amazing support for cloud, IoT, big data, visualization, and containers.
RHEL server supports 64-bit ARM, Power and IBM System z machines. The Red Hat subscription enables you to get the latest enterprise-ready software, trusted knowledge, product security, and technical support from engineers.
After Red Hat announced that the company is shifting its focus from CentOS Linux to CentOS Stream, CloudLinux, the company behind KernelCare and CloudLinux OS, introduced its CentOS alternative The experienced team managed to release the first stable release on 30 March. AlmaLinux is a 1:1 binary compatible fork of RHEL 8. Alma, which means soul in Spanish and other Latin languages, represents the diverse developer community. The project is currently backed by a $1M annual sponsorship from CloudLinux until 2029 and the company also established a nonprofit organization, AlmaLinux OS Foundation. The distribution will also get CIS and FIPS certifications to run in a secure environment. CloudLinux also stated that the community will be involved in key decision making and it will always be free and open-source.
3. Ubuntu Server
While Ubuntu is best known for bringing desktop Linux to the masses, its server variant is also extremely competitive.
Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, has developed LTS (Long Term Support) versions of Ubuntu Server, which like the desktop flavor can be updated up to five years after the date of release, saving you the trouble of upgrading your server repeatedly. Canonical also periodically releases versions of Ubuntu Server at the same time as the latest desktop distro.
One of the highlights of more recent releases is the inclusion of the popular virtual private network (VPN) WireGuard, which is now included by default in the Linux kernel starting.
If you’re intent on building your own cloud platform, you can also download Ubuntu Cloud Server. Canonical claims that over 55% of OpenStack clouds already run on Ubuntu. For a fee, Canonical will even set up a managed OpenStack cloud(opens in new tab) for you.
4. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is an open-source, stable, and secure server platform built by SUSE. It is developed to power physical, virtual and cloud-based servers. It is well suited for cloud solutions with support for visualization and containers.
It runs on the modern hardware environments for ARM System on Chip, Intel, AMD, SAP HANA, z Systems, and NVM Express over Fabrics. Users can get technical support and services under various categories including priority support, dedicated engineer among others, with SUSE Subscription.
5. Rocky Linux
Rocky Linux is also announced after the RedHat’s CentOS decision. The project is announced by the Co-Founder of CentOS, Gregory Kurtzer. The operating system is designed to be 100% bug-for-bug compatible with RHEL 8. The organization released the first release candidate is available for testing. The OS aims to function as a downstream build as CentOS had done previously. Rocky Linux is sponsored by various companies including, AWS, MontaVista, and Ctrl IQ. The Rocky Linux team stated that their goal is not to create a community-managed RPM-based distribution of Linux, but to ensure that it will remain freely available and always in the control of the community. The team also stated that the infrastructure is built from the ground up by many collaborators and sponsoring organizations around composability and security compliance.
Debian is over 20-years-old and in part owes that longevity to the emphasis placed on producing a stable operating system. This is crucial if you want to set up a server as updates can sometimes clash badly with existing software.
There are three branches of Debian, named ‘Unstable’, ‘Testing’, and ‘Stable’. To become part of the Stable current release, packages must have been reviewed for several months as part of the Testing release. This results in a much more reliable system – but don’t expect Debian to incorporate much ‘bleeding edge’ software as a result.
Debian is available in several variants. You can install Debian over the Internet using the minimal Network Boot Image, which you can use to build your server from the grounds-up. There’s also a Cloud Image that you can deploy on any of the supported cloud providers including Amazon EC2, Azure, OpenStack, and others.
7. CentOS (Community OS) Linux Server
CentOS is a stable and open source derivative of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). It is an all-round community-supported distribution and is therefore operationally compatible with RHEL. If you want the use of RHEL without paying a considerable amount of money via subscription, then you have to use CentOS.
Since it is free software, you can get support from other community members, users and online resources as well.
8. Fedora Server
Fedora is a Linux server operating system packed with open-source technology. It is a short-lifecycle, community-supported server operating system. Fedora server OS includes multiple package management tools, including dnf, yum, packagekit, rpm, and yumex, thus offers a better package management system.
Fedora also uses the Bell-La Padula Mandatory Access Model which is an effective multi-level security model allows having different levels of security user can choose. Fedora is also called a bleeding edge distro, which means it is always rolling out with the latest software, driver updated, and Linux features available.
OpenSUSE is one of the most underrated server distros. Besides the regular release called Leap, OpenSUSE also produces a rolling release version named Tumbleweed.
Thanks to its stability, many users prefer running servers atop OpenSUSE Leap. The distro is available as a minimal network image that fetches packages from the Internet, as well as a heavier DVD image, which includes all the packages.
The distro doesn’t produce a separate image for server installation. Instead its installer offers the option to install a server. Furthermore, you can also easily setup your OpenSUSE server with a read-only root partition and transactional updates by choosing the Transactional Server option.
The highlights of the distro are the YaST Control Center and the Zypper package manager, which will help you with the administration and management of your installation. The distro is also well documented, with adequate avenues of support.
10. Oracle Linux
Oracle Linux is a free and open-source Linux distribution packaged and distributed by Oracle, intended for the open cloud. It’s remarkably engineered for small, medium to large enterprise, cloud-enabled data centers. It offers tools for building scalable and reliable big data systems and virtual environments.
It runs on all x86-based Oracle engineered systems and the Oracle Linux Support program enables you to get top-rated support with premier backports, extensive management, cluster applications, indemnification, testing tools, and plus so much more, at a reasonably lower cost.
1. Chrome OS
Do you use the web for everything? Do you write with Google Docs, use Mint for your personal finances, and Gmail for your email? If that’s you, then what you want is a Chromebook.
Chrome OS, the operating system behind Chromebooks, is based on Gentoo Linux. Gentoo is an experts-only Linux, but you don’t need to know a darn thing about it. While you can get to Linux from Chrome OS, you’d need never look under the hood.
Anyone can use Chrome OS. I mean, if you’re reading this article via a web browser, which you almost certainly are, you already know how to use “Linux” enough to work with a Chromebook.
You also don’t need to buy a Chromebook to use Chrome OS. Neverware, formerly an independent company and now a branch of Google, offers CloudReady With this free Chrome OS variant, you can convert pretty any PCs or Mac that’s been built since 2007 into a much safer and more usable Chromebook clone. No-fuss, no muss, and a lot more useful than whatever you’re currently running on an older PC.
- Easy to use
- Offered separately from Chromebooks
- Compatible with PCs and Macs from 2007 onward
- Easy to use
- Unique user experience
- Huge collection of software applications available through the software center
- Essential tools pre-installed
You must have heard about Ubuntu — no matter what. It is the most popular Linux distribution overall. Not just limited to servers, but also the most popular choice for Linux desktops.
It is easy to use, offers a good user experience, and comes pre-installed with essential tools to get a head start. Of course, Ubuntu managed to “simplify” the Linux experience years back and that is the reason it is still so popular even with several other alternatives available.
Ubuntu offers a very convenient installation procedure and ensures the best hardware compatibility when compared to some other non-Ubuntu-based Linux distributions.
The original Ubuntu relies on GNOME desktop. Even though it is easy to use, it may not be a familiar user interface if you’re coming from the Windows platform.
In that case, you can try out some official flavors of Ubuntu like Kubuntu, Lubuntu to get a Windows-like user interface.
Ubuntu has great documentation and community support. Ubuntu forums and Ask Ubuntu provide appreciable quality support in almost all aspects of Ubuntu. You should easily find answers to common issues and even if you notice something new, the community will help you out with troubleshooting.
3. Linux Mint
What’s a Windows 10 user to do? They should turn to Linux Mint, in particular, the version using the Cinnamon interface.
Unlike Chrome OS, Mint with several desktop environments like Cinnamon, looks a lot like XP or Windows 7. It uses a Windows Icon, Menu, and Pointer (WIMP) interface much like the one you probably already know and love. It’s not a one-to-one match with XP or Windows 7, but most Windows users will find Cinnamon a comfortable fit.
Linux users who grew up with the GNOME 2.x style interface will also love Cinnamon. Another worthwhile alternative for people who are fond of GNOME 2.x, and which is also integrated into Mint, is MATE. While Cinnamon rests on the foundation of the GNOME 3.x desktop, MATE is an outright GNOME 2.x fork. MATE is also available on Mint.
Be that as it may, my current favorite desktop operating system is Linux Mint 20.2. I can highly recommend it to anyone.
- Windows-like interface
- Open source code
- No data collection
- May not be compatible with all programs or games
- No proprietary drivers included (Nvidia, ATI, etc.)
4. Zorin OS
- Windows-like user interface
- Intuitive user experience
- Easy to use
- Ultimate edition available with a lot of pre-installed goodies and Lite edition for older computers
Zorin OS is yet another impressive Linux distribution that offers a similar user interface to Windows. It may not be the most popular choice but being an Ubuntu-based distribution, it is perfectly suitable for beginners while offering many cool features as well.
Zorin OS is an Ubuntu-based distribution but feels highly polished. In my opinion, it is perfectly tailored for former Windows users who want a similar look and feel but something beautiful.
The ultimate edition of Zorin OS is worth spending if you need all the pre-installed goodies (fun games, office suite, and some additional features). But, the free edition works like charm as well.
You will also find a “Lite” and Education edition, which is suitable for old hardware and school requirements respectively.
How to Choose the Right Linux Distribution.
The best Linux distribution for your web server is determined by the operating system you choose. Operating systems vary in terms of their performance and software compatibilities. To make the best choice, consult a reliable source such as Amazon or Google to find the right OS for your specific needs.
Choose the Right Hardware
Your web server needs high-end hardware to run correctly. Consider buying an expensive CPU, motherboard, and storage device when making the purchase of your Linux distribution. Additionally, be sure to check out our other articles on how to choose a linux distribution and recommended hardware.
Choose the Right Software
Software is another important factor to consider when selecting a Linux distribution. Many distributions come with pre-installed software, making it easy to get started without having to search for and install software yourself. However, some distributions are more comprehensive and provide additional software Notation, a programming language used by developers to create succinct documentation for their codebase. This can make life easier for new developers, as not all software is available from the outset.
How to Use Linux distributions.
There are many different Linux distributions available that can be used to run your web server. You can choose from distributions like Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, Fedora, and Red Hat. When setting up a new linux distribution, be sure to follow the instructions provided by the distribution’s authors to set up your web server properly.
Use Linux distributions to run your web server
Once you have a linux distribution set-up correctly, you can begin using it to run your web server. To start running your website on your linux distribution, first copy the necessary files and folders to where you want them to be located. Then launch the command line interface (CLI) of the linux distribution and type:
php -f $HOME/.htaccess
This will add an Apache 2 handler file at $HOME/.htaccess which will allow access to our php webserver from anywhere in our system.
Linux is a powerful operating system and can be used in a variety of ways to suit your needs. By choosing the right Linux distribution, you can ensure that your business is successful.