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We are planning to upgrade our hardware and at the same time we plan to reinstall all our web server from a fresh OS. Currently our web server is running on CentOS 4.7 on a dedicated server. We are using Apache, Mysql, PHP, SVN, FTP and all the needed tools for a web server managed through SSH.

We plan to use a cloud server for the new web server. I don't know which Linux distro to take for this new server. Should I stay with Centos and just take the latest release 5.4 or should I switch to something else like a Debian base distro (Ubuntu Server)?

The thing that I didn't like with CentOS was the none availability of the latest version of PHP and Apache on Yum. This make it harder to keep our webserver updated with the latest technologies...

Thanks for your help!

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Michael Hampton Jun 7 at 20:23

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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take your pick... serverfault.com/search?q=best+distro+linux –  Jeff Atwood Feb 12 '10 at 11:32
    
This is a matter of opinion and should be Community Wiki... –  Josh Feb 12 '10 at 16:00

6 Answers 6

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You can run CentOS with all the latest versions of most software thanks to the excellent remi's repos.

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Our production servers run Redhat, so our development servers run CentOS. We compile PHP to our specifications, but everything else comes from the standard repos. Running the newest software isn't always the best idea, but running stable and secure software is. –  steve.lippert Feb 12 '10 at 14:11
    
True from a stability perspective, but not when (for example) you run a framework that requires PHP 5.2+ and your distro ships with 5.1. –  Andy Feb 12 '10 at 15:59
    
True, Thats why I was a little bit disappointed with Centos... –  benjisail Feb 12 '10 at 16:02
    
Yeah, that is why we compile PHP on our own. Other words of advice, if you stick to what you know. There are differences in Debian (and it derivatives) and Redhat (and its derivatives.) –  steve.lippert Feb 12 '10 at 16:02
    
The remis's repos website does not have any mention of security. A solid repository should have a security advisory (e.g. ubuntu.com/usn) –  Aleksandr Levchuk Dec 18 '10 at 18:12

I've recently switched all my machines to Ubuntu from a mixture of CentOS and Solaris. The repositories are kept up-to-date with security fixes, and there's a new OS release every 6 months (or long-term supported (LTS) releases every 2 years if you need stability.)

Having said that, I always compile user-facing software for this very reason, to ensure it's up-to-date.

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Ubuntu only has PHP with the suhosin patches, I find this to be an upside but it should always be mentioned in a question like this. Most of the PHP community seems to look down upon it. –  Evan Carroll Feb 12 '10 at 15:36
    
Never heard about the suhosin patches so thanks for pointing it out - I've just had a quick look and seems to be a pretty cool idea. Just looked in the repos for Karmic and it still only has 5.2.10, whereas 5.2.12 has been out for nearly 2 months now - exactly why I prefer to roll my own. –  Andy Shellam Feb 12 '10 at 18:00

CentOS is not the bleeding edge, but you get rock solid stabillity in return. It also has the advantage that it is basically Redhat Enterprise Linux, so any corporate software (like the ePages webstore) said to run on rhel, will run on the corresponding CentOS version.

Still, for the services you want to support, just about any bigger linux distro will do. For headless I personally like the Debian distro's. I found it easy to get into when I was just starting out.

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If you are familiar with CentOS, you probably should stick with CentOS. It will do a fine job. My personal preference is more towards Debian/Ubuntu but has but that has more to do with my familiarity with them, then the technical capabilities.

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To me, this is what it comes down to. Most major distros are up to the task, so go with something you know. –  Clay Kimber Feb 12 '10 at 19:05

We are really happy with Ubuntu. The mix of the powerful Debian core with not so terribly outdated package version is a great combination.

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Define "best"; are you asking about performance or fastest "up and running"?

If you want performance I'd go with debian as it has php-fpm, apache, mysql55 already in the repo's.

If you want fastest up and running then you can do debian/centos and use mod_php.

If you want perfect, then make it yourself by compiling everything on centos/debian.

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