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I just wanted to know which Linux server distro is most compatible/stable for a dedicated Web Server and a separate dedicated File server. And also please suggest me for a file server what would be best (in a sense of performance, security, and stability) solution ie. FTP, SAMBA etc.??

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The one you know how to lock down. –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams May 8 '11 at 16:40
    
It's highly subjective. I'd use Debian because I'm most familiar with it, it has a large user base, and it's well documented. Where do you plan on serving files to? –  boehj May 8 '11 at 17:39
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closed as not constructive by Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams, Shane Madden, EEAA, RobM, Chris S May 10 '11 at 13:11

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4 Answers

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Your question is both vague and highly subjective. Having worked with most of the popular Linux distros, I've yet to find a single distro which is 'perfect' for any particular need. You should rather approach this topic from a different angle.

  • With which Linux distros are you familiar enough to be able to set up the system yourself and provide its ongoing support? You should not choose a distro purely on the basis of recommendation by others if you are not able to provide support for this distro.
  • How many other people within your organisation are available and skilled enough to resolve potential issues should you be unavailable? If there is nobody else available, what is the cost and response time associated with outsourcing this support to an external party if required to do so in your absence?

I'd like to expand on 3 of your points:

  • Performance: For most purposes, performance is largely dependent on hardware. In some specialized scenarios it may be worthwhile to use a custom-compiled distro such as Gentoo. I have some remarkable use-cases where going the Gentoo route has seen stark performance increases. However, the steep learning curve for Gentoo combined with the mostly minimal performance increases makes it a bad choice for generic environments or environments in which there are no skilled sysadmins available. The standard range of server distros will provide adequate performance in a generic environment: Ubuntu, CentOS, Red Hat, Debian.
  • Security: I would argue that security consideration is a moot point in choosing a distro, since the security of a system is largely configuration-dependent. An exception to this is when looking at distros which have long development cycles such as Debian, where major security updates to software may not see the light of day for a long long time if you stick with the standard repositories. The level of security of the system is directly proportional to your knowledge on the workings of the distro and the packages which you will be using.
  • Stability: Stability is mostly package-dependent; some distros are known for using packages which are still experimental or not yet well tested. Debian is a great because of its strict adherence to long-term stability, but Ubuntu is not (in terms of stability of individual packages, not the OS itself).

The short of it is that you should choose a distro which you are comfortable in configuring and using on a long-term basis. If you only have experience in using a single distro, then stick with that. If you want to start using a new distro, first stick it onto a test server and get comfortable in using it for a few months.

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+1 - Nice answer. –  boehj May 8 '11 at 22:46
    
I normal use Debian based distros.. So I am going to stick with it. Thanks for the clear explanation. –  Himalay May 9 '11 at 0:02
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Gentoo has a steep learning curve but i consider it important to at least do a generic install in order to understand more about Linux. if you are planing to pursue a career in linux related business or if the server requires high up-time the experience will help you correctly configure the server and also how to fix problems when/if the arise. To me Gentoo taught me a golden rule about life "Anything is possible" and what made me pursue a career in IT. it also taught me everything i know about Linux. i was 16 at the time but it took me 3 months and 25 something attempts to install :) –  Silverfire May 9 '11 at 6:46
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I think this is too subjective a question. Most server Linux distributions may be used as web and/or file servers. It depends on your needs, perhaps you should elaborate more on those.

For a file server you can give some appliance distributions a try, like:

http://www.openfiler.com/

Personally I would use Debian or CentOS for both functions, but again - it's a matter of taste mostly. Use what you know best as you'll do a better job then, the objective differences are minimal in my opinion.

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Thanks you for your opinion!! yes openfiler is great but I just want to use free and open source softwares only. –  Himalay May 8 '11 at 18:30
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You could use Debian or Ubuntu Server, or if you want an enterprise distro with also commercial and technical support you can use RHEL or SUSE.

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The most important is you get used to with one distro and explore more of it,because from one distro to another has its own uniqueness that can't be seen in a very short time

For example, I have used Ubuntu and focus on using that distro along with debian for the last 6 years, and yet find something surprising everyday, you must hands on everyday using different one particular distro that you feel comfortable with

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