10 Best Linux Server Distributions of 2017

Linux is free and open source, this has emanated into 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.

Read Also: 5 Most Promising New Linux Distributions to Look Forward in 2017

In this article, we will list the top 10 Linux server distributions of 2017 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.

1. Ubuntu


Top on the list is Ubuntu, an open source Debian-based Linux operating system, developed by Canonical. It is without 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.

Ubuntu Distribution

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 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.

Read Also: Livepatch – Apply Security Patches to Ubuntu Kernel Without Rebooting

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: great deal of software that is available on RHEL is first developed and tested on Fedora.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux

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 x86, x86-64, Itanium, PowerPC 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.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server

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 a all-round community-supported distribution and is therefore operationally compatible with RHEL. If you want a use of RHEL without paying a considerable amount of money via subscription, then you have to use CentOS.

CentOS Linux

Since it is free software, you can get support from other community members, users and online resources as well.

5. Debian

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.

Debian Linux

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 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.

Oracle Linux

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.

7. Mageia

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.

Mageia Linux

In case you need any support, you can contact the Mageia community which is made up of users, makers and advocates.

8. ClearOS

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.

ClearOS Linux

It is a smart, fully-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

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.

Slackware Linux

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 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.

Read Also: 10 Linux Distributions and Their Targeted Users

That’s it! In this article, we have listed the top 10 Linux server distributions of 2017. Which distribution are you or your company using to power servers out there? Let us know via the comment section below.

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