Which distributions are best for servers?

Which distributions are best for servers?


Everyone knows that a server’s efficiency and reliability depends on the operating system, under the control of which it will work. On one hand, the OS is a consumer of precious server resources, on the other hand, it is a system that organizes the operation of all applications and ensures the correct interaction of all interested parties with the equipment.


It's no secret that Linux is one of the leaders among server operating systems. Linux is distinguished by its stability, low resource consumption, fault tolerance, scalability, and security. Also, it is free and open-source. This makes it possible to significantly reduce the total cost of ownership of a Linux system compared to other operating systems.


Another key feature of Linux is its huge number of distributions. They are created for different needs, have their own specific features, some of them are free, and some are not. There are a large number of Linux server-oriented distributions. In this article, we'll take a look at five Linux server distributions that we think deserve your attention.


Also, to make it easier to work with your servers, you might want to consider Packagecloud. Packagecloud is a cloud-based service for distributing different software packages in a unified, reliable, and scalable way, without owning any infrastructure. You can keep all the packages that need to be distributed across your organization's machines in one repo, regardless of OS, or programming language. Then, you can efficiently distribute your packages to your devices securely, without having to own any of the infrastructure involved in doing so.


This enables users to save time and money on setting up servers for hosting packages for each OS. Packagecloud allows users to set up and update machines faster and with less overheads than ever before.


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Popular server distributions

Ubuntu Server

Ubuntu is perhaps the most popular Linux distribution. Ubuntu Server is an open-source Debian-based Linux OS developed by Canonical. It offers great performance, flexibility, security, and resiliency. It is a fairly user-friendly OS with a huge community and ongoing development. It is easy to download Ubuntu and quickly get it running on a physical or virtual server. Ubuntu Server can run on x86, ARM, and Power servers. Also, you can use it from the most common public clouds.


Because Ubuntu provides a free software licensing model, you can use Ubuntu for free and run it anywhere. Canonical also provides Ubuntu Advantage - commercial support and services such as a system management tool for security audit, compliance, and the Livepatch service, 24x7 user support, and others. 


When choosing a version of the Ubuntu Server distribution, you should pay attention to the support period. Ubuntu has two types of releases - Long Term Support (LTS) and Short Term Support. The LTS version of Ubuntu is released every two years and is supported for five years. This means you won’t need to upgrade to a new version of Ubuntu Server yet still receive all the necessary security updates for 5 years.                             


Debian is a Linux OS that was released in 1993. It is maintained by its users. This means that Debian is free and open-source. Debian doesn’t have commercial support, but you can connect with Debian consultants around the world. 


Debian comes with over 50,000 packages, including various tools designed for both beginners and advanced users. Stability and reliability are Debian’s best features according to its loyal users. This OS has three branches - Stable, Unstable, and Testing. 


Every package is reviewed for several months as a part of the Testing branch. As a result, the Stable branch of Debian is very reliable. But this also has a side effect - you will not find the latest software in the Stable version.


Debian is easy to download and run in your environment, but it is important to download the correct installation image, for the hardware it will run on. It supports a larger number of hardware architectures including x86, x86-64, Arm, aarch64, i386, i686, armhf, armel, mips, mipsel, ppc64el, and others.


OpenSUSE Leap

Another distribution worth checking out is OpenSUSE Leap. OpenSUSE is a stable, easy-to-use distribution. Out of the box, it includes all basic applications for everyday work. OpenSUSE is used by both beginners and experienced users.


OpenSUSE has two releases - Tumbleweed and Leap. Tumbleweed is a constantly updated release using a rolling-release model. It contains the latest stable versions of packages, designed more for advanced users and developers. Leap is the main edition of OpenSUSE and is a stable version of the distribution for most users.


The openSUSE Installation process is simple and provides users with all the options they need. It is possible to use graphical mode or terminal client. To configure the system, the YaST (Yet another Setup Tool) utility, specially developed for SUSE Linux, is used. 


YaST is a centralized control panel for system administration. YaST allows you to perform many administrative actions such as installing and uninstalling programs, configuring hardware, configuring network services, updating the system, partitioning a disk, and much more.


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Fedora Server

Fedora is a community-developed, open-source server, sponsored by Red Hat Linux distribution. Fedora distro with targeted use for servers is called Fedora Server. Fedora Server serves as a testing ground for new features and technologies to be incorporated into commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This enables experienced system administrators with any OS skills to use the latest open-source technologies. But the price for this is a short life cycle with each version supported for around 13 months.


Fedora Server contains software designed for server use - the powerful Cockpit tool for monitoring and managing the system, a PostgreSQL-based database server, networking software, and other components. Fedora Server comes with Fedora Modularity, which allows you to select the correct version of the application or language stack you want and keep it even when your OS is upgraded to a newer version. Fedora Server supports x86_64 and ARM architectures. It can also be obtained as a number of images for use in many popular clouds - OpenStack, Vagrant, Amazon Public Cloud, and more.


Fedora CoreOS

Everyone knows that nowadays most companies use cloud services such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. They are deploying their containers from Linux instances. Many developers use the same OS as on on-premise servers. But there are operating systems that were developed especially to run on containers. Fedora CoreOS is that OS.


Fedora CoreOS is an automatically updating, minimal operating system for running containerized workloads securely and at scale. Fedora CoreOS aims to provide a minimal environment that updates automatically without administrator intervention and is unified for mass deployment of server systems dedicated solely to running containers. The distro provides only the minimum set of components sufficient to run isolated containers - the Linux kernel, the system manager, and a set of services managing configuration and installing updates.


There are three independent branches of Fedora CoreOS, to which updates are made with the elimination of vulnerabilities and serious bugs: Testing - branch based on the current Fedora release with updates, Stable - a stable branch formed after two weeks of testing the Testing branch, and Next - a snapshot of a future release in development. Fedora CoreOS is currently available on multiple platforms, with more coming soon.



In this article, we reviewed five popular Linux distributions. Any of these distributions will meet, or even exceed the ordinary tasks. Each of them has its own features - stability and fault tolerance, scalability, bleeding-edge technologies, user-friendliness, focus on containers, and others. And the choice of distribution depends on your specific needs.


If you are looking for a solution that enables users to efficiently, reliably, and securely set up and update servers without owning any of the infrastructure that is typically required to do that, take a look at Packagecloud.


Packagecloud is a cloud-based service for distributing software packages to your machines and environments. Packagecloud enables users to store all the packages that are required by their organization, regardless of OS or programming language, and repeatedly distribute them to their destination machines.


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