Linux is free and open-source, this has emanated into the low total cost of ownership of a Linux system, compared to other operating systems. Although Linux operating systems (distributions) are not entirely doing well on desktop computers, they are commanding the stats when it comes to powering servers, mainframe computers as well as supercomputers in data centers around the world.
There are several factors attributed to this: the first and most important that you might have thought of, is the general freedom associated with it, stability, and security among others.
In this article, we will list the top 10 Linux server distributions of 2020 based on the following considerations: data center capabilities and reliability in relation to supported functionalities and hardware, ease of installation and use, cost of ownership in terms of licensing and maintenance, and accessibility of commercial support.
10 Best Linux Server Distributions
Top on the list is Ubuntu, an open-source Debian-based Linux operating system, developed by Canonical. It is, without a doubt, the most popular Linux distribution out there, and many other distributions have been derived from it. Ubuntu server is efficient for building top-performance, highly scalable, flexible, and secure enterprise data centers.
It offers remarkable support for big data, visualization, and containers, IoT (Internet Of Things); you can use it from most if not all common public clouds. Ubuntu server can run on x86, ARM, and Power architectures.
With the Ubuntu Advantage, you can get commercial support and services such as a systems management tool for security audit, compliance, and the Canonical livepatch service, that helps you to apply kernel fixes and many more. This is coupled with support from a robust and growing community of developers and users.
2. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)
Second on the log is Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), an open-source Linux distribution developed by Red Hat, for commercial use. It is based on Fedora, which is a community-driven project: a great deal of software that is available on RHEL is first developed and tested on Fedora.
RHEL server is a powerful, stable, and secure software for powering modern data centers with software-oriented storage. It has amazing support for cloud, IoT, big data, visualization, and containers.
RHEL server supports 64-bit ARM, Power and IBM System z machines. The Red Hat subscription enables you to get the latest enterprise-ready software, trusted knowledge, product security, and technical support from engineers.
3. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is an open-source, stable, and secure server platform built by SUSE. It is developed to power physical, virtual and cloud-based servers. It is well suited for cloud solutions with support for visualization and containers.
It runs on the modern hardware environments for ARM System on Chip, Intel, AMD, SAP HANA, z Systems, and NVM Express over Fabrics. Users can get technical support and services under various categories including priority support, dedicated engineer among others, with SUSE Subscription.
4. CentOS (Community OS) Linux Server
CentOS is a stable and open source derivative of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). It is an all-round community-supported distribution and is therefore operationally compatible with RHEL. If you want the use of RHEL without paying a considerable amount of money via subscription, then you have to use CentOS.
Since it is free software, you can get support from other community members, users and online resources as well.
Debian is a free, open-source and stable Linux distribution maintained by its users. It ships in with over 51000 packages and uses a powerful packaging system. It is being used by educational institutions, business companies, non-profit and government organizations.
It generally supports a larger number of computer architectures including 64-bit PC (amd64), 32-bit PC (i386), IBM System z, 64-bit ARM (Aarch64), POWER Processors and many more.
It has a bug tracking system and you can get support for Debian by reading through its documentation and free web resources.
6. Oracle Linux
Oracle Linux is a free and open-source Linux distribution packaged and distributed by Oracle, intended for the open cloud. It’s remarkably engineered for small, medium to large enterprise, cloud-enabled data centers. It offers tools for building scalable and reliable big data systems and virtual environments.
It runs on all x86-based Oracle engineered systems and the Oracle Linux Support program enables you to get top-rated support with premier backports, extensive management, cluster applications, indemnification, testing tools, and plus so much more, at a reasonably lower cost.
Mageia (a fork of Mandriva) is a free, stable, secure Linux operating system that is developed by a community. It provides an enormous repository of software including integrated system configuration tools. Importantly, it was the first Linux distribution to replace Oracle’s MySQL with MariaDB.
In case you need any support, you can contact the Mageia community which is made up of users, makers, and advocates.
ClearOS is an open-source Linux distribution derived from RHEL/CentOS, built by ClearFoundation and marketed by ClearCenter. It is a commercial distribution intended for small and medium enterprises as a network gateway and network server, with an easy-to-use web-based administration interface.
It is a smart, full-featured server software which is highly flexible and customizable. You receive premium support at an affordable cost and get additional software from the application marketplace.
9. Arch Linux
Arch Linux is also a free and open-source, simple, lightweight yet secure Linux distribution. It is flexible and stable; provides the latest stable versions of most software by following a rolling-release pattern and uses both official package and community-supported package repositories.
Arch Linux is a general-purpose distribution that is optimized for the i686 and x86-64 architectures. However, because of decreasing popularity among the developers and other community members, support for i686 has now been dropped.
It has a formal bug tracking facility and you can get supports from a thriving community and other online resources.
10. Slackware Linux
Last on the list is Slackware, a free and open-source, powerful Linux distribution that strives to be most “Unix-like” in design simplicity and stability as well. It was created by Patrick Volkerding in 1993 and is best suited for Linux users who aim at technical proficiency.
It doesn’t offer a graphical installation method, has no auto-dependency resolution of software packages. Additionally, Slackware uses plain text files and a number of shell scripts for configuration and administration. And has no formal bug tracking service or public code repository.
It has a wide range of development tools, editors, and current libraries for users who want to develop or compile supplementary software on their servers. It can run on Pentium systems and the latest x86 and x86_64 machines.
Slackware has no official support term policy, however, you can find help from comprehensive online documentation and other related resources.
That’s it! In this article, we have listed the top 10 Linux server distributions of 2021. Which distribution are you or your company using to power servers out there? Let us know via the comment section below.