Operating systems are the cornerstone of the modern industry. On the one hand, they consume valuable server resources that could be used for something more useful. On the other hand, the operating system acts as an orchestra for server applications and allows you to make a multitasking platform from a single-tasking computing complex, and also facilitates the interaction of all interested parties with the equipment. Now the main mainstream server OS is Windows Server + several Linux distributions of various kinds. Each of these operating systems has its advantages, disadvantages, and niches of application. Today we will talk briefly about the systems that come with our servers.

Windows server

This operating system is extremely popular in the corporate segment, although most ordinary users associate Windows exclusively with the desktop version for PC. Depending on the tasks and the infrastructure needed to support the company, several versions of Windows Server are now in operation at once, starting with Windows Server 2003 and ending with the latest version – Windows Server 2019. We supply servers with all of the listed operating systems: Windows Server 2003, 2008 R2, 2016 and 2019.

Windows Server 2003 is mainly used to support enterprise systems and networks built on the basis of Windows XP. Surprisingly, the version of Microsoft desktop OS, taken about five years ago out of maintenance, is still in operation, since a lot of proprietary software for production was written under it at one time. The same applies to Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2016 – they are most compatible with old but working software and therefore are used up to this day.

The main advantages of Windows-based servers are the relative ease of administration, a fairly large layer of information, manuals and software. In addition, you can not work without a server on Windows, if the ecosystem of the company has software or solutions that use libraries and parts of the kernel of Microsoft systems. Also here you can add RDP technology for user access to server applications and the general versatility of the system. In addition, Windows Server has a lightweight version without a GUI with resource consumption at the level of the Linux distribution – Windows Server Core.

To the minuses of Winserver, you can add two parameters at once: license cost and resource consumption. Among all server operating systems, Windows Server is the most “hungry” and requires at least one processor core and from one and a half to three gigabytes of RAM just for the kernel and standard services to work. This system is not suitable for low-power configurations, and also has a number of vulnerabilities related to RDP and group and user policies.

Most often, Windows Server is designed to administer company intranets and ensure the performance of specific software, the operation of MSSQL databases, ASP.NET tools, or other software created specifically for Windows. At the same time, it is still a full-fledged OS on which you can deploy routing, raise DNS or any other service.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is one of the most popular and stable developing distributions of the Linux family, released for the first time in 2004. Once a tenant for housewives in the Gnome shell, over time, Ubuntu became the default server OS due to its extensive community and ongoing development. The latest popular version is 18.04, but we deliver the server under 16.04, and about a week ago, version 20.04 was released.

If Windows Server was used as an OS to support specific and windows-oriented software, then Ubuntu as a Linux distribution is a story about open source and web development. So, it is Linux servers that are used to host web servers on nginx or Apache (as opposed to Microsoft IIS), to work with PostgreSQL and MySQL, or the scripting languages ​​of development that are now popular. On a server with Ubuntu, the routing and traffic management services will also work perfectly.

A plus is to write down less resource consumption than Windows Server, as well as working natively for all unix-systems with the console and package managers. In addition, Ubuntu, being initially a “desktop home Unix,” is user friendly enough, which makes it easy to administer.

The main minus is unix, with all that it implies. Ubuntu may be friendly, but only relative to other Linux systems. So to work with it, especially in a full-fledged server configuration – that is, exclusively through the terminal – certain skills will be required. In addition, Ubuntu is more focused on personal use and is not always suitable for solving corporate cases.

Debian

It is ironic that Debian is the progenitor of the very popular Ubuntu that we mentioned earlier. The first Debian build was published more than 25 years ago – back in 1994, and it was the Debian code that formed the basis of Ubuntu. In fact, Debian is one of the oldest and at the same time hardcore distributions among the Linux family of systems. For all the similarities of Ubuntu, unlike its “heir”, Debian did not receive the level of user-friendliness as a junior system. However, this also has its advantages. Debian is more flexible than Ubuntu and can be more deeply configured and more efficiently solve a number of specific tasks, including corporate ones.

The main advantage of Debian is its high security and stability in comparison with Ubuntu and, especially, with Windows. And of course, like any Linux system, low resource consumption, especially in the form of a server OS running a terminal. In addition, the Debian community is open source, so this system is primarily focused on the correct and effective work with free solutions.

However, you have to pay for flexibility, hardcore, and security. Debian is being developed by the open source community without a clear kernel through the branch wizard system, with all the consequences. At one point in time, Debian has three versions at once: stable, unstable, and test. The problem is that the stable development branch is seriously behind the test one, that is, outdated parts and modules can often be found in the kernel. All this results in a manual rebuild of the kernel, or even in the transition to the test branch, if your tasks outperform the capabilities of a stable version of Debian. Ubuntu has no such problems with version discontinuity: there, every two years, developers release a stable LTS version of the system.

CentOS

Well, let’s end our conversation about server OS RUVDS on CentOS. Amid the more massive Ubuntu and, especially, Debian, CentOS looks like a teenager. And although the system became popular among the masses not so long ago as Debian or Ubuntu, the release of its first version took place at one time with Ubuntu, which was in 2004.

CentOS is mainly used for virtual servers, as it is even less resource-intensive than Ubuntu or Debian. We supply configurations running two versions of this OS: CentOS 7.6.1810 and older CentOS 7.2.1510. The main use case is corporate tasks. CentOS is a story about work. Never a home-use system, as it was, for example, with Ubuntu, CentOS was immediately developed as a RedHat-like distribution based on open source code. It is heredity from RedHat that gives CentOS its main advantages – focus on corporate tasks, stability and security. The most common use case for a system is web hosting, in which CentOS shows better results than other Linux distributions.

However, the system has a number of minuses. A more restrained development and update cycle than the same Ubuntu leads to the fact that at some point you will have to put up with vulnerabilities or problems already solved in other distributions. The system for updating and installing components is also different: no apt-get, only yum and RPM packages. Also, CentOS is not quite suitable for hosting and working with Docker / k8s container solutions, in which Ubuntu and Debian obviously outperform it. The latter is important, since the virtualization of web servers and applications through containerization has been gaining momentum in recent years in the DevOps environment. And of course, CentOS has a much smaller community compared to the more popular Debian and Ubuntu.

Instead of output

As you can see, any OS has its pros and cons and has got its own niche. Windows-based servers stand apart – in the Microsoft environment there is own atmosphere and rules of work.
All Linux distributions are similar to each other in terms of resource consumption, but have their own specific features and differences depending on the task. Ubuntu is easier to use, Debian is more finely configured. CentOS can act as a replacement for paid RedHat, which is important if you need a full-fledged corporate OS in unix-performance. But at the same time, it is weak in terms of containerization and application virtualization.

In any case, you can contact our specialists and we will find the necessary solution and configuration for you based on your tasks.