Which OS is best for your project—CentOS, Ubuntu or Debian?

Do you want to build a server, which could provide a lot more flexibility for much less?

For newcomers, consumer-grade Linux distributions include Fedora, OpenSUSE, Gentoo, Ubuntu, and Debian, but since the software versions keep changing on a regular basis, they may not be the ideal choice for a production server. Enterprise Linux distributions including Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, Ubuntu LTS, and CentOS maintain software versions over an extended period.

Usage_Statistics_and_Market_Share_of_Linux_for_Websites _August 2018

In recent years, enterprise Linux has gained much popularity. It is for a good reason because an enterprise Linux distribution aims to provide a robust, stable, and reliable platform for users to deploy their applications. The new version of the programming language you used to write your application may not work without extensive changes, or the database server may not read the old file format, which has changed. However, since the platform has stable software—updated and supported for an extended period, and software versions do not change in the middle of a release—enterprise Linux is far more suitable for production servers than consumer-grade solutions. Consider CentOS, Ubuntu and Debian, the three most popular categories of Linux-based web servers.

CentOS logo


Consider Community ENTerprise Operating System (CentOS) which is not only free, but also offers many benefits over other operating systems. CentOS Linux distribution is an enterprise-grade, freely available, open source operating system based on the open source code of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, developed and maintained by CentOS Project. The project is about more than just a Linux distribution because project members provide support and training materials.

You could be a proud member of the community around the world who use CentOS because they need a robust and reliable platform to deploy applications and services. The project has commercial support options available from several companies, but if you have your in-house expertise or know people who can help, you could opt out of commercial support.

CentOS and RHEL have a lot in common, because CentOS uses another enterprise Linux platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux. CentOS Linux distribution includes software from projects in the open source world. For using CentOS as a server, you could take advantage of server software including Apache Web Server, Samba, Sendmail, CUPS, vsFTPd, MySQL, and BIND. You may also configure computers to work together in clusters, where a group of servers could share a common file system, and offer high-availability applications, load-balance for using computing resources, and greatly improved performance.

Ubuntu logo


Ubuntu, since its release in 2004, has risen to the vanguard of desktop Linux and as a popular choice for servers. Ubuntu evolved from Debian, one of the most stable and customisable distributions of Linux. Many talented software developers like Ubuntu because it enables them to concentrate on specific interests within the operating system.

Ubuntu is a fast-changing distribution with an updated release twice a year. If you are a business, you could realise the benefits of running a stable and powerful operating system, which is not only easy to maintain, but also easy to secure. The Unity interface for Ubuntu, since its release in 2011, has become elegant, powerful, and more useful. Ubuntu leverages on the quality of Debian and creates an operating system for ordinary people; however, even expert developers love Ubuntu because it allows them to concentrate on specific interests instead of details of the operating system.

Debian logo


Debian is one of the most stable and customisable distributions of Linux and is well-respected for quality and technology. The operating system is however meant for geeks as the operating system has a flexible GNU/Linux-based distribution from its packaging. The learning curve is quite steep for most web developers, but Debian is a proven platform for web applications.

Familiarity with GNU/Linux is crucial, and experience with packaging systems and managing performance or security are useful. The Debian Project aims to produce a universal operating system, to run on a broad set of hardware for wide-ranging purposes and different kernels including Linux, Hurd, or FreeBSD.

Choosing the right flavour of Debian could be simplified by using recommendations for architecture and installation method. Success of Debian could be attributed to the stability of software packages, robustness of administrative tools, and reliability. Debian supports eleven different processor architectures for unified administration across various platforms. Since Debian uses the Linux kernel, anything possible with Linux is so possible with Debian GNU.

Your experience with Linux operating systems could also help in choosing web hosting solutions. For instance, Liquid Web is a leader in web hosting services, with wide-ranging options for servers. A popular solution among developers is Linux hosting, which is not only affordable, but also scalable. Say you are in the media business, you could configure your server with robust tools to power the video service. On the server, users could record, convert, and stream audio and video content in different file formats.
Liquid Web’s Linux solution is customisable for your project and budget.

For most users, cPanel and Parallels Plesk control panels with ServerSecure solutions are adequate. However, if you need more for your business, options are available for clustering the server for high-performance configurations. Besides solutions including MySQL database hosting, Fantastico and Softaculous one-click installers, Ruby on Rails, WordPress, ZenCart, and OsCommerce, you could customize solutions using wide-ranging Linux software for your web hosting needs. These features could enhance the functionality of your server with dedicated firewalls, SAN storage solutions, load balancing, remote devices, and parallel switches. You may also customise servers using solid-state, Fusion-IO and SAS drives.

With so many options for operating systems, making the right choice could take considerable time and effort. A simple way is to order servers by complexity or the level of sophistication required for managing the server. For advanced users, Debian could be the right choice, but for new users Ubuntu and CentOS offer manageable and highly reliable solutions.

So, what operating system do you want to use?

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