Linux is basically the king of the VPS OS war. Between Linux, Windows and OS X for servers, Linux easily has the majority of the market cornered. Here we’ll explore the benefits and weaknesses of Linux as an OS for a Virtual Private Server service and what distribution might be right for you. We won’t get into the definition of a VPS, too much, so if you want to get an idea of what a good VPS service is, you can look it up by following this link.
LINUX vs WINDOWS
There are a few things that Linux does better than its competitors. And that is enabled by its flexibility. Having an open-source platform as your go-to solution can be an incredibly great thing for your infrastructure. If you can think it, someone has probably tried to do it, and with a little bit of technical wizardry and know-how, Linux will give you the power to do basically anything. Meanwhile, safe options, such as Windows server OS solutions can and will work great, but provide a closed off environment that has a lot more limits. The other argument for Windows server hosting was the idea that this platform is a lot more safe and secure, but with the recent leaps across most Linux OS distributions, that’s just not true. Both operating systems are on par with each other.
Moving on, we need to address the elephant in the room – price. Building your own dedicated server is really expensive and it requires a lot of back-ends and front-end knowledge. That inflates the price for your project exponentially. So, a great way of cutting costs is using a VPS service, right? Yes, it is! You don’t have to worry about the back-end, you can scale, and you’re guaranteed high uptime rates. Do you know what is also a great way to cut costs? It’s using a free, open-source platform. That’s one of the significant “selling” points for Linux use. While Microsoft would require licensing fees for an easier to use, but less powerful product, Linux provides you with a free platform.
So all these benefits are great for people who are running various smaller to medium sized projects. What about the power users, that expect to get the absolute maximum from their solutions? They are definitely covered. Linux is the OS that without a doubt is the lightest on resource use. That means more power left over for whatever application, website or project you might be hosting.
So, let’s cover some distributions and see what might take your project on the right track.
3 best Linux distros for hosting virtual machines
The ones to be looked at the closest are Debian, CentOS, and Ubuntu. These are, arguably the most stable ones, they’re free, open-source and maintain all the main benefits of Linux mentioned above, but add a little bit of their own spice to the mix.
Let’s start off with CentOS. It’s the free alternative to RHEL or Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It’s probably the most widely used corporate IT distribution. If you’re looking to get to work and learn development, then you’re in the right place with CentOS. Since it’s based on RHEL, you’ll effectively be learning to work on two distributions at the same time. You might need a bit more technical knowledge, but if it’s internet based, then CentOS might be your best bet.
Next, let’s take a look at Ubuntu. If you’re new to Linux, this is probably the one you’ve heard about the most, since it’s the most popular desktop Linux distribution. This one is amazing for server admins and similar jobs. You can easily switch between different kernels, make changes securely and quickly. The integration is incredibly comfortable too! If you struggle along the way, there is an option to buy a paid customer support package, that will get you some IT wizards on your side.
Lastly, we have Debian. The big daddy of Linux distributions. It’s one of the oldest platforms available, with one of the most significant communities backing it up. If you want something done and not sure how to do it, Debian might be the best platform for you. Learning will be a constructive experience – the amount of online tutorials, lessons, and how-tos is immense. You’ll be joining a truly massive and great community.
Only you can decide what distribution is best for you, but this will give you a rough guideline for further research. Linux might be intimidating at first, but once you’re in it, the sky’s the limit.