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We plan to host our website on a linux server. The site is created using java based technologies and will run on multiple instances of tomcat with apache in the front. I want to go in for a 64 bit linux OS so that I can install 64bit jvm. So my options are :

Ubuntu Fedora CentOS

which one (and which version) would be the most stable?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Apr 7 '10 at 17:49

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closed as not constructive by Kyle Brandt, Warner, John Gardeniers, EEAA, Sam Apr 9 '10 at 8:58

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Mint Chocolate chip. If you can't afford the licensing fees, than I would recommend Strawberry... :-) (The most recent CentOS or a Stable Debian are both safe bets) –  Kyle Brandt Apr 7 '10 at 18:05
    
I just launched a ubuntu server because I was familiar with Ubuntu. The answers given to your question now concern me about my server. +1 -- good question. –  Frank V Apr 7 '10 at 18:12

5 Answers 5

Go for whatever you know best. However, I would avoid using Fedora as its not really meant for production systems.

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Hands down, the best answer is: use the one you are most familliar with.

All Linux distributions are pretty much equivalent today. What you want is to not have to think too hard when something is wrong. So, whatever you are most familiar with is the way to go, naturally.

EDIT: After reading the other responses (rather than just skimming), my own approach is to use Fedora Core and myself personally "blend" the advantages ascribed to CentOS, Enterprise Edition, etc by not upgrading just because there's a new version but only to get fixes for any issues to problems I may have. This gives me the advantage of being able to be more up-to-date than the other distributions when needed, but by not just following the latest and greatest just-because, my systems stay out of "bleeding-edge" trouble.

For more on not following the "upgrade for upgrade's sake" paradigm, see:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/198478/advantages-of-ms-sql-server-2008-over-ms-sql-server-2005/198530#198530

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While fine in theory, in practice FC gets totally end-of-lifed much more aggressively than the other options. So while you don't have to upgrade for new features, security fixes are usually very desirable. –  David Mackintosh Apr 8 '10 at 14:40
    
Hi David, I'm really not trying to be argumentative but I don't get this "end-of-lifed much more aggressively" idea. I've had FC installations last ten years and only upgraded because the hardware needed attention and while it was out of service for a while, it got a new disk and O/S installation. My theory: If you're getting good service out of it and there's nothing actually broken that you use, why mess with it? (I run about ten server systems, give or take, and have for about 14 years. I practice this philosophy on all of them. So far, so good!) –  Richard T Apr 8 '10 at 15:53

I am not injecting opinion here. This does not reflect my overall opinion or preference but is specifically answering the question. I have no desire to debate preferences of distributions.

Ubuntu Fedora CentOS

which one (and which version) would be the most stable?

Between these choices, CentOS is definitely the most stable. Stable in the sense that the packages included are mature and tested, which often does not included the latest major version of the software. CentOS is based on RedHat Enterprise Linux, which specifically applies standards desired to enable the highest level of stability for professional environments. This includes a 7-year release cycle.

Fedora is the opposite of CentOS in the sense that it includes the latest major versions of software as well as "new" features that are being tested before being introduced to the Enterprise version of RedHat. Fedora's life cycle is shorter and has a completely different approach.

Ubuntu is newer to the industry and most commercial support is for RedHat Enterprise Linux. However, Ubuntu does offer a version (LTS) with a longer release cycle. Still, this cycle is shorter at 5-years. It could be argued that Debian is a better choice, as it is more mature and Ubuntu is based on it. Ubuntu was created with a focus on usability. With this, their focus appears to have historically been on end-user features.

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Ubuntu tries to do both, but in turn seems to end up doing neither particularly well. Jack of all trades, master of none. –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Apr 7 '10 at 18:20
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Well there is Ubuntu there is the Long Term Support versions which are meant to be the stable versions. –  Kyle Brandt Apr 7 '10 at 18:22
    
Good point, I edited to reflect. Trying to avoid opinion, a contentious topic. –  Warner Apr 7 '10 at 18:25

I prefer Debian because it's a lot easier to set up a minimal installation without any X-Windows gui stuff that you don't need on a hosted server. 99% of the time, you probably want "Stable" for hosting rather than something more cutting edge.

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Sure. But if it's not a choice then it may be difficult to get it on the system. –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Apr 7 '10 at 18:36
    
Fedora has too short of a life cycle (1 year). Ubuntu tries to be very fresh and breaks things. CentOS is Redhat without the trademarked pieces. Redhat is sometimes 4 to 6 years behind on packages (e.g. DHCP, Emacs, Php in latest Redhat 5.4 ) The old age of Redhat's packages can be a hinderance (e.g. try to find Php newer than 5.1). As well, we have to go outside of Redhat's packages very often to install packages, leading to lack of ease of maintenance. In Debian, more packages are closer to current, and yet not bleeding edge, while the packages come from a consistent source. –  labradort Apr 7 '10 at 19:00
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@Ignacio, if you can't administer a system from an ssh session or serial terminal command shell, then you shouldn't be messing with hosting systems. You're going to end up in a situation where your fancy gui shell won't launch, and then you'll be hosed. –  Paul Tomblin Apr 7 '10 at 19:42

Fedora. I've used various versions of Ubuntu under high load, and there have been issues in the kernel with handling large amounts of network connections.

Fedora, in my experience, has never had these issues. Then again, if you're not under high load, Ubuntu would be easier to configure, in my opinion.

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You're recommending Fedora over CentOS as "more stable," which is simply not true. Fedora is more cutting edge version releases, which in turn introduces more risk. CentOS is the counterpart to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. –  Warner Apr 7 '10 at 17:52
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Fedora is many wonderful things. stable is not one of them. –  theotherreceive Apr 7 '10 at 18:39
    
I agree 100% with Warner (both this comment and his answer above). Stick with either CentOS or Debian for server purposes. If you need to use Ubuntu for some reason, be sure to use their LTS release. –  EEAA Apr 7 '10 at 18:48
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@djangofan And you would be dead wrong in that assumption. –  EEAA Apr 7 '10 at 19:05
    
I still prefer Slackware. ;) –  Warner Apr 7 '10 at 19:07