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Do you consider Arch Linux suitable for server environment? Its rolling release model and simplicity seems to be a good thing, because once you installed it, you do not need to reinstall like the release model from other distros.

But that constant upgrading does not cause stability problems? Although it is bleeding edge, Arch Linux uses the most recent STABLE version of software.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 23 down vote accepted

Probably the biggest issue with Arch as a server operating system is that it's not clear where and when applications may break after an upgrade. More often than not, you have to keep up with what's going on in the wiki and on the forums before doing any sort of upgrade; with Debian and CentOS, you can well assured that any upgrades won't break any applications, since more often than not, the upgrades done on the STABLE branch will be security/bug fixes.

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However, shouldn't you be testing your updates before rolling them out anyways? We are running a few Arch boxes in production, and testing updates every week or so on some internal machines. When everything is assured to be working, I roll out the updates. –  Eric Coleman Feb 7 '11 at 22:46

Although i love arch, i wouldn't use it for production environment. First of all, in a production environment you need something stable and well tested. In addition, because it's quite stripped, you need to make custom scripts or setup things manually (It's sometimes good because you know exactly what is running in your system, but very bad because it takes too much time to configure it). Besides that, because it's not widely used in production environments, in case of a problem you won't find the support that you would find if you were using Debian or Fedora (Arch community is great, but to be honest, is not as large as Debian's or Fedora's)

To summarise, i think it's great for desktop use, but not for production environments

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I would always suggest one of:

  • CentOS. It's a free RHEL clone, meaning you get a very long support cycle (7 years), during which you can get just security fixes and minor enhancements, so keeping the system patched is very, very easy. Also, lots of "commercial" software target RHEL, so they are easier to install on CentOS. Drawbacks: I prefer apt/dpkg to yum/rpm, not easy to get bleeding edge software running on it, somewhat spartan software selection

  • Ubuntu LTS. Actually I still haven't used it, but it also has a long support cycle and it's Debianish

  • Debian testing. Debian's my favourite distro, works really well and it has a stupidly huge package selection which is very-well put together. It's somewhat more time-consuming to keep patched, but it's easier to install software (i.e. there's more stuff readily packaged).

I would suggest considering pros to using Arch Linux to one of those three and see if it's worth it.

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You would use Debian testing on a production server? That makes no sense to me. How often are you fixing things that break during updates? –  Jason Berg Aug 22 '10 at 18:14
@Jason: More worryingly, while Debian now has official security support for testing, it's not as good as for stable or unstable, since a security update for testing has a reduced but nonzero quarantine time and can be delayed due to unmet dependencies. –  Gilles Aug 22 '10 at 21:37
I turn to testing when I want to run somewhat recent software (i.e. getting Rails apps running on CentOS is a bit irksome- but quite easy on Debian Testing...). I use debsecan to pull just security updates and it's normally quite stable. Were I use it for hardcore production, I'd like to do extensive testing before rolling out updates on testing boxes. Of course, I should also do that in CentOS boxes :-p –  alex Aug 23 '10 at 18:08
“[Debian] is somewhat more time-consuming to keep patched” − Why would it be harder to keep up-to-date and patched? Just like CentOS updates, it is just a apt-get upgrade. Maybe I'm missing something… –  Léo Lam May 23 at 18:52
I recommended Debian testing. Testing is harder to get updated- updates might require configuration changes and further work- something that doesn't happen with RHEL/CentOS/Debian LTS/Ubuntu LTS –  alex yesterday

You may find helpful discussion and comments posted recently under the Arch as a web server thread on the arch-general mailing list.

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