Linux has a global footprint, empowering businesses to optimise their operations and output. Numerous technologies that we utilise today, including but not limited to containers, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, edge computing, and a wide range of programming languages and frameworks, would have been non-existent without the influence of Linux.
Several prominent corporations have adopted Linux as their preferred operating system, and a significant number of their programmers consider it an integral aspect of their proficiency. Being proficient in Linux is typically deemed vital for their skillset.
Linux has established itself as the preferred server operating system for development teams, highlighting its relevance in the industry. Preparing the teams for this shift involves implementing the appropriate Linux distributions for the tasks at hand.
To what extent and employing which distribution, though?
Our next step is to explore and find a potential match.
Differentiating Linux and Its Distributions.
Answering the fundamental query is simple: Linux is an operating system, akin to macOS and Windows. What makes Linux distinct is its open-source characteristic, granting it a higher level of customizability than other proprietary alternatives. With the Linux kernel and associated software accessible in open-source format, users can download and adapt them at their discretion.
An effective way to conceptualize distributions is by likening them to athletic shoes. Numerous manufacturers offer a range of distinct products, although essentially all of them provide athletic shoes designed for running. This analogy can be extended to Linux distributions. Despite potential variations, they all provide the same operating system at the core.
The key contrast between certain distributions is the package manager they use. Ubuntu utilises apt, while Red Hat Enterprise Linux employs dnf, SUSE uses zypper, Arch utilises pacman, and so on. Despite minor distinctions between these package managers, all of them are user-friendly and easy to navigate.
Although it is technically feasible to switch between server and desktop Linux with some effort, it is commonly not recommended.
Now that you have a basic understanding of Linux and its multiple versions, we can begin our search for the most appropriate server distribution for your software engineers.
Pricing Takes Priority
The primary criterion when selecting a Linux server distribution should be cost. You can acquire a Linux server distribution for free or choose to pay for a subscription-based plan. Below are some of the most widely used Linux server distributions:
- Ubuntu Server
- Rocky Linux OS
- Server Ubuntu
- openSUSE Leap
Linux server distributions that require a paid license to use include:
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux for Business
- SUSE Open Source Embedded Software Environment
- Oracle Linux OS X
Subscription-based distributions generally provide enterprise-level customer service, which can be a significant advantage. However, if you need to configure many instances for your developers, costs may go up. Nonetheless, many businesses understand the value of such support.
Although Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, are generally available for free, you can still opt for premium support through Ubuntu Advantage, offered by Canonical – the developer of Ubuntu.
Built-in Cloud Compatibility
This is a crucial follow-up question. Your team is unlikely to prioritize building an in-house data center. The cloud has become the go-to option for modern software development. Therefore, you must decide which distributions are supported by your cloud server. Fortunately, most third-party providers support a wide range of Linux server distributions.
Ubuntu Server is widely regarded as the most popular Linux distribution for use in the cloud. This is largely due to its user-friendliness and ease of learning, making it an ideal option for introducing new programmers to Linux. You can download Ubuntu Server from their official website.
Other Linux server distributions may have security layers that can be challenging to navigate, which could be a reason why they haven’t been as widely adopted for cloud computing as Ubuntu. For instance, using a Linux server distribution with SELinux enabled may have a steeper learning curve for developers. If they’re not familiar with SELinux, the system’s robust security features could adversely affect the performance of their applications.
Several server distributions based on RHEL use SELinux, and here are some examples:
- Rocky Linux OS
- Oracle Linux OS X
- Server Ubuntu
Not that you must necessarily avoid such distributions. However, if you use an operating system that employs SELinux, ensure that your developers are familiar with it.
Devices that are Easy to Install
While all Linux server distributions offer a broad range of handy extensions, some distributions make it easier to obtain and configure such programs. One such example is Ubuntu, a widely-used Linux server distribution. This is because Ubuntu-based distributions come with an extensive range of pre-configured software repositories, simplifying the process.
To install standard utilities on RHEL-based editions of Ubuntu, you may need to add or activate a third-party repository. While the process of setting up these tools may not be as simple as with other distributions, they are still accessible.
The LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) server is a commonly-used software stack that can be installed on Ubuntu Server with just one command.
To install the same stack on an RHEL-based server distribution, the tools would need to be installed individually.
Ubuntu Server is clearly the more user-friendly option. However, if you require more secure features and access to customer support, Red Hat Enterprise Linux or SUSE may be a better choice, even though they may have a steeper learning curve.