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Most Popular Operating Systems For Web Hosting Servers


When it comes to operating systems, there is no shortage of choice. Some operating systems, such as Windows, are more popular than the rest whereas others, such as Kali Linux, are used for specific niche such as penetration testing.

However, when it comes to web hosting servers, which operating systems are more in use and which ones should you prefer? In this article, we will be taking a look at some of the most popular names related to operating systems for web hosting servers. It is, obviously, worth noting that operating systems for servers are different from what we might run on our computers.

1. CloudLinux

The first name on our list, CloudLinux, has long established itself as the darling of web hosting providers when it comes to operating systems. The primary reason for this is that CloudLinux comes with several provider-friendly features, such as the ability to lock down specific resources for accounts of users, and more.

As such, owing to its feature set, it is not uncommon to find the vast majority of web hosting providers relying on CloudLinux. This is especially true for smaller and medium-sized web hosting companies.

With that said, it does not imply that CloudLinux is not handy for the end users or web hosting clients. In fact, it boasts of a wide array of features that are specifically meant for the web hosting industry in general.

To learn more about CloudLinux and what it has to offer, it might be a good idea to consider going through our detailed analysis of CloudLinux.

2. Debian Server

Debian Linux is another worthy operating system that can fit the needs of various types of web hosting scenario, both big and small. The fact that it has been around since the 1990s speaks a lot about Debian as a Linux distro — make no mistake about it, this is one robust and reliable piece of software that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

With Debian, stability is almost a granted thing, and so is the community feeling. A good number of users rely on Debian Linux for their servers, albeit this number is also shrinking of late. However, all said and done, Debian Linux continues to be a strong choice for being the operating system of choice for many server admins, tech specialists and enthusiasts alike.

3. Ubuntu Server

Take Debian, and add to it a bigger and wider community, more advanced and premium-grade support as well as greater access to updates.

What do you get? Ubuntu Linux!

Ubuntu comes in various flavors, meant both for desktops and servers. Ubuntu Server has been rising in popularity steadily and is often a primary pick for administrators, especially for folks running VPNs and other related setups.

Ubuntu Server is backed by a large community. This makes it a good pick for newbie admins, mainly because if you get stuck somewhere, help is always near. Tools for hardening an architecture based atop Ubuntu Linux are generally not rare to find.

4. CentOS

For many years, CentOS reigned supreme as the de facto leader in the world of Linux-based web hosting servers. Of late, it has found its throne being captured by the likes of CloudLinux.

Yet, CentOS remains a strong name when it comes to operating systems for web hosting servers. It is free and open source, and much like any other decent web hosting OS solution, comes with its own set of server-friendly code base and features.

A noteworthy aspect of CentOS is that updates are not released as fast as you might find with any other Linux distro, say, Ubuntu. This means CentOS is probably not the type of distro you might wish to run on your laptop or desktop. Cutting-edge software or the latest updates are often quite late in arriving to CentOS stable builds.

On the other hand, this very trait makes CentOS ideal for web hosting servers. Running the latest version of OpenOffice is not imperative for a hosting server, but stability and security is. The fact that CentOS ensures only the most stable piece of code finds its way in its repositories, even at the cost of being late to the update party, goes on to ensure a highly stable and reliable operating system environment where crashes and bugs are highly unlikely.

For anyone who knows a thing or two about web hosting servers, stability is of primary essence. CentOS promises just that!

5. Windows Server

Well, this is a bit of a no-brainer. Any list of web hosting operating systems is slightly incomplete without mentioning Microsoft Windows, even at the expense of omitting some other noteworthy Linux distros.

If you wish to run scripts such as ASP.NET or similar architecture, a Windows hosting server is what’s needed. And when it comes to Windows, there aren’t that many options as Linux — if you need a Windows server, you will have to use one. If you do not need one, you won’t use one.

It’s as simple as that. Of course, Windows hosting has its own innumerable advantages to offer, and you can find how it differs from Linux hosting in this article. That said, for the average Joe, Linux hosting is more than sufficient and this is why Linux distros tend to dominate the world of web hosting operating systems.

Noteworthy Mentions

In addition to the above five, certain other names definitely deserve a mention when we are discussing web hosting operating systems. Such as:

  • Fedora Server: Much like Ubuntu Server, Fedora Linux too has a version that is meant to run on hosting servers and is fairly popular, albeit not as much as Ubuntu.
  • SUSE Linux: SUSE Linux has been around for quite a while, and its open source openSUSE LInux has a decent-sized following. For web server hosting, SUSE Linux is a strong choice, albeit it has of late found itself losing the race against other server-centric Linux distros.
  • FreeBSD: FreeBSD offers a reliable and secure environment for web hosting servers, and is often used for dedicated server hosting. However, owing to the ease with which one can find sysadmins for Linux servers, FreeBSD is often not the first choice for bigger companies, especially when it comes to production servers.
    • Other BSD variants, such as DragonFly, too offer a good set of features, but again lag behind Linux servers in terms of sheer popularity.


For the average user, web hosting operating systems mean very little as long as the websites are working fine and uptime is good. However, for web hosting providers and advanced users alike, the choice of operating system matters quite a great deal.

Which operating system do you prefer to run on your hosting servers and is there a special reason for your choice? Share your views with us in the comments below!

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