Best Linux Distro for Web Server

Best Linux Distro for Web Server: If you are planning to build a web hosting company, small business servers, or simply host your own website at home, then it is best to use Linux as your operating system. Linux servers have been known to be extremely reliable and rarely crashes so there's less downtime. Linus Torvalds has once been quoted as saying "How do you power off this machine?" when upgrading the site "", and after using the machine for several months.

Around 60% of all web servers ran Linux, but we don't have any data that could tell which among the Linux distributions are widely used or preferred. If you ask me, here are some of the best and perhaps popular distro for web servers:

Slackware is the oldest surviving Linux distribution so there are no doubts about its reliability. It aspires for design stability and simplicity, using plain text files for configuration and making as few modifications to software packages as possible from upstream. As they say, there is no better, more customizable, standard distro than Slackware.

Gentoo is a highly flexible and fast distro that is built on top of the Linux kernel and based on the Portage package management system. It describes itself as a metadistribution, "because of its near-unlimited adaptability". Unlike a standard software distribution, the user compiles the source code locally according to their chosen configuration in Gentoo. Its package management is designed to be versatile, modular, portable, easy to maintain, and optimized for the user's machine.

Debian is a strict advocate of the free and open source philosophies. It is known for amplitude of options like its support for a wide range of computer architectures that ranges from the Intel/AMD 32-bit/64-bit to the ARM architecture. Some of the others notable features of Debian are the APT package management system, repositories with large numbers of packages, and the high quality of releases.

RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux)
When we talk about Linux web servers, we shouldn't fail to include RHEL. It is released in server versions for x86, x86-64, Itanium, PowerPC and IBM System z. Though it's proprietary, it costs less than Microsoft's web server software. RHEL is also known for its excellent technical support and service.

If you want to get all the goodness of Red Hat Enterprise Linux but don't want to spend a dime, then CentOS is for you. CentOS is based on RHEL and aims to provide a free enterprise class computing platform and strives to maintain 100% binary compatibility with its upstream distribution. Technical support is mainly provided by the community through its official mailing lists, web forums, and chat rooms.

But don't just limit your choices from my list, as there are other distros that are as capable as the above mentioned.

How about you? What do you think is the best Linux distro for web server?


  1. SMEserver, based on CentOS (based on RHEL) is configured just to be an internet server (and gateway). Hardened en safe from unauthorized config changes it is also easy to manage.
    This front end portal really does great injustice to smeserver, pity, but it includes a lot of knowledge, howto's to enable you to expand on the server.

  2. Gentoo - Lighttpd - Spawn-FCGI

  3. For one webserver, I would probably go with debian, stable.

    For hundreds of webservers I would probably go with gentoo.

    The only reason I use CentOS is because I have a semi commercial app that I am supporting (zimbra) that insists on it.

    The big issue with RHEL based distributions, and ubuntu is that you spend a lot of time uninstalling things that you don't need, and if you don't need it it needs uninstalled from the webserver.

  4. I am with meneer on this sme is the way to go
    easy setup and rock solid

  5. Debian or CentOS because they have easily-available updates. RHEL is the same as CentOS but its a headache to get it set up to install new software and updates, and then it requires online (web-based) management to set up the repos and the Channels and the Entitlements and a bunch of nonsensical stuff.

    But, Debian always just works, and upgrades from one Stable release to the next without issues. Its also my preferred desktop distro (in Testing or Sid, with KDE4 of course).

  6. I usually go with Debian, just for the ease of applying updates to the system.

  7. Sir Lox ElroyMarch 11, 2010

    For all of my Web Servers, Database Servers, and Devel Servers I run Debian Stable. It is just that, rock solid. I have never had an OS related issue, although I did have a hard drive controller start flaking out a month ago, but that is because of old hardware.

  8. Mandriva, Easy, Works, Affordable, Solid, Easy Updates....

  9. Debian -THE Operating System of the Univers(al)

  10. I like ClearOS, which used to be ClarkConnect. It's based on RHEL and has one of the easiest setup processes I think I've ever seen. Security it built right in. I have two servers that haven't been down in 4-5 years, except when the power goes off.

    Uncle Ed

  11. We're using OpenSUSE on our web servers. Works great.

  12. My option is Debian Lenny.


  13. Debian.
    Beginners buying a VPS for fun or personal web hosting - Ubuntu for ease of use on top of rock solid Debian. I've heard from a VPS hosting company owner that CentOS/Yum is not good for smaller VPS servers (<=256 MB). I prefer Debian's APT anyway.

  14. No one match stability of CentOS on Webserver.

    Centos + Apache = Perfect Webserver

  15. Ubuntu server does it all for me. Plus there is a solid support community.

  16. Slackware, Gentoo, or FreeBSD (I know it is not linux) or maybe Arh too, but debian is for little girls :P has not yet seen the light... and not decided whether to use Windows or GNU/Linux hahhaha xDD... and *BSD never crossed their mind...

  17. Debian stable, I just goes and goes, and I love apt, good to see other opinions here, I'm looking at maybe trying another distro for a large project I'm about to start, although I'll probably just stick to Debian

  18. How about Oracle's Unbreakable? RHEL based, and fixing bugs faster than RH - (kind of like ubuntu is "better" than debian?)

    I think my home dns/hosting server will probably run slack though (if I can summon the courage to stay away from Ubuntu - apt just calls to me, I can't help it)

  19. AnonymousMay 18, 2010

    I run Gentoo at home (on this laptop in fact), but even I wouldn't want to run it as a commercial web server. I love Gentoo, but putting aside playing around on my free time, I wouldn't want a production server running it.

  20. I use Gentoo for my production server. it's been on with very little downtime for almost 3 years.

    in fact, onces i've recompiled the kernel last year, added to the rest of the binaries, i must say that no other distros can match the performance you get when you install a custom tailored GENTOO. think of it as this. Compiling all your binaries for your specific machine will optimize every process, and save much CPU time all over. I usually can run 30% more load with the similar machine when recopiling everything.

  21. Ubuntu if you don't have time and want something really easy. Slackware for reliability and speed. Gentoo if you have a lot of time on your hand to learn how to use and keep compiling and want to get the maximum speed and efficiency out of your hardware.
    FreeBSD a lot like Slackware in terms of pros and cons. Finally Arh Linux if you like the idea of Gentoo but don't have the time and are using x86 architectures

  22. Centos - nginx is the best webserver

    Here is the PDF tutorial

  23. openSuse here running everything,.net applications trough mono, servlets and java applications trough tomcat and some php sites. Think that a good web server is made by the admin firstly.

  24. I work for a company that deploys Debian based web servers for our client's use. I agree that Debian is rock solid and updates are easy. What I don't like about it is the slooooow lifecycles between testing and stable.

    Our clients purchase the hardware and we install. I'm now finding that Debian won't install on a lot of newer systems because it has no driver support for newer network cards, scsi interfaces and such so I end up either using a backports kernel, or custom compiling drivers which defeats the purpose of Debian (stable, battle hardened, well tested drivers and kernel). I've been looking at Unbuntu lately to see what it offers. Still interested in staying with a Debian derivative.

  25. Ubuntu Rocks in all aspects :)

  26. Gentoo is a very stupid idea for servers... VERY BAD IDEA!
    Btw, u don't have to pay anything for Red Hat Enterprise Linux cause it's Linux! Only if u want support+system updates(security updates are important for a web server) u need to choose a subscription...

  27. Gentoo actually is pretty good for servers. I administer dozens of Gentoo Linux servers that provide critical services in a commercial environment, with really high security and availability demands, for 6 years now and it's been a great success.

    Once deployed I spend almost no time maintaining them, aside from the web application updates. They have been down just two times during these 6 years: when I decided to upgrade the kernel.

    If you are a good sysadmin, and if you know Linux well you can choose pretty much any distribution and make it fit your needs. In this regard, I think Gentoo makes advanced Linux sysadmins comfortable because it allows fine-grain tailoring and it's easy to set policies and automate server management.

    Also, having our own portage overlay allows us to easily distribute our own patches to some apps we need.

  28. SME server, hands down. Rock solid, simply put, it is the easiest to configure for 2 or 2000 domains.

  29. Centos 5= easy management = fast + great webserver

  30. Windows Millenium
    Web server and minesweeper server

  31. I like your sense of humour if not your spelling.

  32. Windows Millenium was abandoned when Ancient Egypt raised to power. Now it's Linux Empire so stick to it or go cryin'.

  33. Debian of course. Stable and easy to use.

  34. I do believe the EVAR was part of the troll-joke :)

    hehe... Millenium.. that was the only windows I've liked since I used dos and well 3.1 was ok since it was the first windows gui I tried. hehe. Have a sense of humour :p

    I am stuck between going Debian and CentOS, (will try out some tests and lay-outs in vm's I guess). Want to run a small business network with one *old* server box and 3 'modern' hardware boxes (one laptop). Office suites, web server, intranet, internal mailserver and networked fax/copy/print. All development will be on linux (one Ubuntu, one Arch Linux and one Fedora) + an optional WIndows Xp/WIndows 7 VM (two licenses valid for that laptop). CentOS-Debian..CentOS..Debian :)

    Oh, and Rh I do not like that much simply because 10 years ago I wa son Mandrake and RH and back then it was a nightmare at times some of the porting... so I am a bit 'ouch' to rpm systems.

  35. My answer to windows millenium is : MSDOS 6.1
    Rock solid, 1 solid thread, no inet so you are absolutely secure ! Cheers !

  36. Who that said Windows? Joked? lol

  37. AnonymousMay 26, 2011

    Ubuntu seems the be one of the best...
    That's the only build packaged linux with a support of 5 years on LTS with easy update (apt-get update && apt-get upgrade), nothing is broken at each upgrade only fix.

    Debian is only 3 years, nothing is broken, only fix.

    Cent OS: 7 years but need upgrade each time

    OpenSUSE: 4 years but need upgrade each time

    Slackware: ??? difficult to find any infos.

  38. i have been using solaris 10. I admint to get it all to work, you have to configure everything, put all packages together, so it is not easy as the most distro's, but once it run, it is so stable...

  39. Sometimes, using the right webserver matters more than using the right Unix:

    Server ................. requests per second
    G-WAN .............................. 749,574
    Nginx ................................ 207,558
    Lighty ............................... 215,614

  40. I have tested: debian, centos, ubuntu and opensuse.
    Debian was missing some features ( i had to install the xen kernel myself, i had to make modifications to be able to login as root - (not sudo) etc, centos was too poor, just had the necessary, i had to install many apps my self, it could recognise ntfs volumes out of the box etc, ubuntu distribution was small, everything had to be downloaded from the internet, opensuse was the best, it had everything i wanted so i decided to use opensuse.

  41. Well, I would only and do use Freebsd+Apache. Fast and clean...............



  42. Centos - because most modern commercial control panels work on Centos perfectly.

  43. Slackware and Gentoo are not supported by my VPS provider as well as many other hosting. Is there are reason to this as you mentioned they are good?

    I haven't tried CentOS yet, but in memory consideration, would CentOS be less RAM consumption than Debian?

    Look like most readers here also go for Debian? Great I will try CentOS too and give a review about them.


  44. AnonymousMay 30, 2012

    by now!!! i would go with ubuntu/fedora/debian

  45. My vote is for : Debian, and then CentOS