The best Linux server distros provide a simple way to run stable and reliable servers for your home or business. Usually bundled along with Apache, MySQL, and PHP – and frequently referred to as a LAMP configuration – a wide variety of different Linux distros are used not just for the servers that power the internet but also for the virtual networks behind cloud computing.
Sometimes the choice of which Linux distro you use on your servers is down to personal preference, sometimes market forces, and sometimes due to small advantages, a particular distro will have in regards to the core applications to be used, security concerns, or stability issues. But which Linux should be used? In most situations, the choice will mostly be an issue of personal preference. However, we’ll list some of the best Linux server distros.
Best Linux server distros of 2022
Ubuntu Server: Best Linux server distro for scalability
One of the most popular and best Linux distributions is Ubuntu. A variation of Debian, Ubuntu is a product of UK-based Canonical and offers Linux solutions for desktops, servers, IoT devices, and more.
With a biannual release schedule, Ubuntu is known for its user-friendliness and stability, with the option to pay for premium support services. Ubuntu’s bounty of features for modern IT environments include multi-cloud orchestration, Linux container hypervisors (LXD), and bare metal provisioning for deploying complex workloads on on-premises hardware.
- Certified native drivers for NVIDIA virtual GPU (vGPU) software
- Supports all major CPU architectures
- Secure Shell (SSH) protocol supporting two-factor authentication (2FA)
- Option for minimal system installation with Server Lite Installer
- Regular hardware and security updates with the latest Linux kernels
Debian: Great Linux server distro with multi-architectural support
Debian is one of the oldest distros on our list. It was started in 1993 by Ian Murdock. Debian also provides more than 59.000 free packages bundled up. Debian is also known for its easy installation and easy upgrades. It is also easy to find lots of online resources to solve issues concerning Debian.
Debian also supports most CPU architectures, including alpha, amd64, armel, hppa, i386, ia64, mips, mipsel, powerpc, s390, and sparc. Debian also offers a publicly available bug tracking system for users to submit bug reports.
- Access to over 59,000 stable software packages using deb format
- Support for most CPU architectures, Linux kernel hardware, and proprietary drivers
- Free or commercial long-term support (LTS) for sets of packages beyond five years
- Options to update a single package or the entire Linux system
- Publicly available bug tracking system (BTS) for sharing and tracking vulnerability data
OpenSUSE: Best Linux server distro for long-term support
The next distribution on our list is famous for its adaptability and flexibility. It is available for desktop computers, laptops, servers, and notebooks. It has two different releases:
Leap is the standard release, while Tumbleweed is the rolling release of OpenSUSE. Most people prefer Leap for its stability. It has a cloud-agnostic design and multi-mode architecture. This distribution has a great community that can help the users if they face any problems. OpenSUSE does not have a separate ISO image for servers. Instead, its default installer has the option for server installation.
- Administrator management tools including YaST, Kiwi, OSEM, OBS, and OpenQA
- Rolling release (Tumbleweed) or standard release (Leap) options
- Support for hardware and virtualized systems including VMware, QEMU, and Xen
- Open Build Service (OBS) to build and distribute packages efficiently
- Broad contributor community including developers, testers, translators, and UX experts
Fedora Server: Best Linux server distro for fast-moving tech adoption
Fedora, a fresh Linux server OS for the one who is new to the Linux world, supports various desktop environments. Therefore, it is best Linux for cloud servers carrying experimental technologies for commercial use. All the features that might or might not get added into RHEL are first implemented and tested on Fedora. Hence, this makes it one of the most thrilling server distros around.
- Provides various Database services
- Better for advanced servers
- Access to multiple package management tools
- Mainly focused on delivering only free software
RHEL, short for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, is an open-source Linux distribution developed by Red Hat, Inc. based on Fedora and does not offer the cutting-edge software that Fedora provides. But it does offer more stability and an LTS version with a 10-year lifespan. RHEL was made for commercial purposes and provided enterprise-level support. It is a paid Linux distribution, unlike almost all other distributions in this list. However, Red Hat Inc does freely provide its source code. This Linux distribution offers one of the longest long-term support. With this distribution, you get a ton of exclusive tools and software. This Linux server distro is best suited for cloud-based servers and data centers.
- Native tools for deployment, development, and automation of critical workloads
- Security including system-wide cryptographic policies, auditing, and compiler flags
- Broad integration with enterprise apps like PostgreSQL, SQL Server, and SAP HANA
- Container infrastructure and tools for the development and deployment of container images
- Support for workloads across the hybrid cloud, virtualized, and bare-metal environments
How to choose the best Linux server distros for you?
To select the best Linux server distro for yourself, you’ll first have to consider its complexity, the documentation and support it offers, and whether it has a steep or easy learning curve. If there’s an active community for discussion, there’s scope to learn more and get help easily. Not all distros have a GUI, so you’ll want to check this. You’ll also want to look at how secure and stable the distro is, and find out whether it offers an easy out-of-box experience.
Every Linux server is unique in its way, with its key features. However, it depends on individual preferences for selecting the best server according to the system’s (or personal) needs. There are many good reasons why one must implement Linux distributions in their practice, mainly because it leads to a flexible and more appropriate development environment. Thus, selecting a proficient distribution is not always easy. One must identify the exact requirements before making the decision.