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Many users who migrate a website to a VPS and have the ability to create their disk environment often choose the Linux operating system. While it’s free, a huge community, libraries of software and documents allow you to configure the server as efficiently as possible for your specific needs. The first step to running a Linux VPS is to choose the OS version. 

Free, open-source software allows you to take any of the available distributions and modify them to create your version. But that also makes the user’s choice difficult. Which distribution is better? Not even IT experts can unanimously answer this question. But we will talk about the five most popular Linux distributions. 

Ubuntu 

Ubuntu is a common Linux distribution. The reasons for this are as follows: 

  • interactive graphical interface;
  • reliability of the software;
  • large selection of software;
  • built-in VPN service.

Updates are not frequent – once every five years. This is a plus because you do not need to constantly monitor updates and install them. Ubuntu provides the possibility of creating your cloud platform.

Debian

It is one of the first Linux distributions, a robust operating system whose updates are necessarily tested at length before being released to the general public. Stability is a plus, but it is also a disadvantage. After all, it is impossible to find the latest software in the repositories. As long as it is tested for any bugs, it often loses relevance. If novelties are not important for you, but stability and reliability are the main parameters of your choice, then this option is perfect for you. 

RHEL 

If you are interested in new products and the most advanced software, consider RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux). It is a paid distribution that is offered for use by a commercial organization. This means that a professional, paid development team works on improving Red Hat. The specialists, understanding that this is a commercial project, make every effort to make the distribution not only reliable but also innovative. By the way, this distribution is most often chosen by corporate customers. 

CentOS

CentOS is similar to Debian in stability and reliability. The conservative distribution does not offer the latest software but will work without the glitches that occur when installing updates. However, CentOS is compatible with Red Hat Linux. And that makes it possible to buy enterprise-level software that will be able to run on CentOS.

Of the pluses of CentOS, the following features can be highlighted:

  • high level of security, allowing it to be used for mission-critical servers;
  • the ability to install Red Hat Linux packages;
  • large community of both private and corporate users.

Managing CentOS, especially if enterprise software is used, may require a skill set. 

Fedora

Another popular distribution is Fedora. This operating system is oriented toward free software. The advanced IT project includes the latest versions of software. It is worth noting that the latest Fedora updates are tested in the real world. After a successful test, they are hosted on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Fedora provides a platform that hosts the source code without the addition of special tools. It is worth realizing that no version of Fedora is supported for a long time. Among the pluses – is complete freedom of action for your in-house programmers. Minus – you can not count on stability. 

The main differences between Linux distributions

All Linux distributions are offered as open source. This is what they have in common. But some differences should not be overlooked. 

Release Schedule

Linux is stable and most distributions are not updated as often. For example, updates are published every six months for Ubuntu and every few years for Debian. The frequency of updates affects how often you will need to reinstall your software. 

Initialization system

The set of programs that are run at kernel startup differs from distribution to distribution. A popular initialization option is systemd. It is installed in Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, and CentOS. The Gentoo distribution has the OpenRC initialization system.

Desktop environment

The Linux differences in the desktop environment can be described as follows: 

  • Memory consumption. For some consumers even today, the amount of memory used by a Linux distribution is important. It varies from version to version. 
  • The tools offered by different Linux distributions. You have to choose your version according to your needs and preferences. For example, the package manager, used for installation, configuration, and even remote administration, appears differently in different distributions. The package manager needs to be evaluated when choosing a version.

Code

Linux is open source. Therefore, not all closed-source packages are compatible with Linux distributions. This can cause problems when installing them. For example, Ubuntu did not support mp3 for a long time. Take into account which software package you plan to upload to the server when choosing your operating system and its compatibility. 

Tasks

Linux distributions are created for specific purposes. For example, Debian is designed to provide free software, other variants are created for graphic artists, and others are created for musicians. It is worth keeping this in mind when choosing a Linux distribution.

File System

The Linux file system is a root directory with similar subdirectories. But there are minor differences between distributions. For example, there are four directories for executable files: /bin/, /usr/bin/, /sbin, /usr/sbin. In Debian, applications launched by the administrator are stored in /sbin. In Ubuntu, they are not hidden from the average user in a separate subdirectory. 

Conclusion

We offered to learn a little bit more about the five most popular Linux distributions suitable for VPS server use. Of course, it is difficult to describe all the pros and cons in one article. If you have any questions, you can always contact an experienced system administrator who will explain the details. Such consultation will be useful for you when you choose the optimal operating system for your VPS server.

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