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I have made the leap to Linode (360MB) and wanted to get some feedback on which distribution to choose. I'm going to be running LAMP (with P being PHP).

I am mainly curious about security, performance, stability and future patching.
Should I go with a 64bit version of the OS or are there drawbacks with that?

Choices ...

Arch Linux 2009.02
Arch Linux 2009.02 64bit
CentOS 5.3
CentOS 5.3 64bit
Debian 5.0
Debian 5.0 64bit
Fedora 11
Gentoo 2008.0
Gentoo 2008.0 64bit
OpenSUSE 11.0
Slackware 12.2
Ubuntu 8.04 LTS
Ubuntu 8.04 LTS 64bit
Ubuntu 9.10
Ubuntu 9.10 64bit

Cheers

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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Disclosure: I work for Linode.

360 MB is a fair amount of memory, but it's nothing to phone home over when it comes to LAMP stacks. You need to be fully aware of ways to optimize your stack in this amount of space; a 64-bit OS will directly impede those efforts by using more memory overhead for some things. Knowing each of the distributions you listed like the back of my hand (I built a couple of them), you are really best off going with Ubuntu.

I run Debian on jedsmith.org and Ubuntu on my development Linodes, and they're probably the most efficient of the lot; Ubuntu, being the current forerunner of distributions, will get you everything you want -- security, performance, and a big community to answer questions.

Great opinions from cletus:

I'm half-tempted to suggest Arch Linux just for a barebones distro where you only install what you need as unnecessary packages can eat up your memory really quickly.

I've heard the same about Arch as well, but haven't tried it. Another Linode employee, Sam, swears by Arch and has lots of good things to say about it.

Also, re: LAMP stack, consider using nginx instead of Apache for better performance on a low end VPS slice.

jedsmith.org is nginx in front of FastCGI PHP, and it screams like hell.

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+1 I'm half-tempted to suggest Arch Linux just for a barebones distro where you only install what you need as unnecessary packages can eat up your memory really quickly. Also, re: LAMP stack, consider using nginx instead of Apache for better performance on a low end VPS slice. –  cletus Nov 18 '09 at 3:11
    
@cletus: Agreed. I spent about 3 hours stripping every package that didn't break yum out of CentOS 5.3 when I built it. Worst part: Even though I disabled SELinux, I couldn't remove its libraries or most of the binaries. Sigh. With you 100%. –  Jed Smith Nov 18 '09 at 3:13
    
+1 for suggesting LEMP(Nginx) i have Nginx, FastCGI PHP for my wordpress blog and its performance is superb. –  Numenor Mar 10 '11 at 22:43
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Disclosure: I am a very happy Linode customer with a 360 plan.

I use ArchLinux 2009.02 on my Linode. I chose ArchLinux because I was already familiar with it and find the package management system very convenient and straightforward. The distribution makes it easy to configure a lean system with the minimum fuss.

With the 360 plan, I have been hesitant to run a MySQL instance on the same node as the web server. I avoided the 64 bit distribution due to the memory overhead as pointed out by Jed Smith.

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Try them all?

Honestly, just try out some and have some fun. Find one you like and then stick with it for the short term before trying another one out for a different reason.

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