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I'm in need for a VPS. My current hosting provider is able to provide with very cheap two options - CentOS and Debian. I don't expect a high traffic there, it is only so I can host my SVN repos (and soon GIT ones too) there so I can access them anytime from anywhere, a simple web server and that's pretty much it (maybe a one or two other services - can't think of any at the moment).

Anyway, I have some experience with administrating FreeBSD and my own MacBook Pro, so I believe I have enough knowledge (still, far from being an expert) to sort it out myself.

Now, because I'm not familar with any of the two OSes the provider offers I'm asking you which one would be better for my needs? I wouldn't consider myself a core administrator, so the simpler things would be the better for me.

Note: I am not interested in using any of the SVN/Git repo providers - I want my own server.

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4 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The canonical answer to this is: Use what you are familiar with. Since you are not familiar with either, it's a really close call.

So here is a semi-philosophical argument: Debian is an original community distribution. Do you value a direct feedback channel and the possibility to shape the future of what you use? CentOS is a community distribution based on a commercial distribution based on a community distribution. Do you value something that has been polished three times but where the channel to the original author is perhaps more murky?

But really, it's very hard to distinguish these options.

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Thanks for the input Peter. Looks like it is really a very close call in this situation. I think I'm slightly leaning towards Debian. I think I value original community distribution more. –  Michal M Jan 24 '11 at 8:53
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Given that you have no experience with either the question may as well be "should I buy the green car or the yellow one?". There is really no way to answer it properly because we don't know you and your preferences and there is no overwhelming reason to choose one over the other.

With that in mind, and the fact that you say it's so cheap, why not get one of each for a short while, play with them and see which one YOU prefer, then discontinue the other one? Alternatively, do the same with a couple of virtual machines and make a decision before committing to the VPS.

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This is actually a very good point John. Since it's paid monthly there is no reason why not to try them out at minimal cost really. –  Michal M Jan 24 '11 at 9:31
    
Re preferences. Well, I like working with FreeBSD, so my preference would be to choose it if that was the case, but it isn't. So I thought I'd ask for suggestions. –  Michal M Jan 24 '11 at 9:32
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If you are new to sysadmining servers, the documentation and community support available for the distro should be your main criteria in deciding which distro to use. In my experience, I have found the Debian community to be more active and responsive.

Since Ubuntu is based on Debian, you get the super-active Ubuntu community too.

Hence, I would recommend that you go the Debian route.

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Very good point, the documentation and community. –  Zenklys Jul 20 '12 at 15:57
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Frankly, you could flip a coin. They both have strengths and weaknesses. I like debian, it seems to be slightlu more up to date for packages. If you can get Ubuntu, I'd recommend that as a first step. It shares a great many things in common with debian.
You could compare he communities which back them. In that case I think debian is ahead.

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No, unfortunately there's no other OS options which is a bit of a shame, but the price is so good it's really worth a shot so I thought I'd go for the most recommended option. –  Michal M Jan 24 '11 at 8:47
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