What would the best Linux operating system for hosting a Web/SVN/etc. server? One thing that it needs to have is no windowing system installed by default.
Last place I was at we used Ubuntu server edition. Worked well, hosted Apache, MySQL, usual stuff. We downloaded the install ISO, burned a CD, and had the server up and running within the morning.
I think the best distribution is the one you know the best and are most comfortable managing.
The other thing to look for is long term stability, assuming you don't need the latest and greatest features, which you usually don't with a server. This means distros like Ubuntu LTS, Debian, CentOS, etc.
If stability is going to be an issue, I would suggest using CentOS. It's RedHat without the paid support or logos. Runs very well without a GUI, and will run anything that's supported on RedHat. A good choice if you aren't tied to anything requiring a Debian base.
If you're willing to broaden your horizons to something other than Linux I would suggest FreeBSD -- IMHO the base OS you get is cleaner and you can get away with less "extra" stuff installed on the system, which hopefully leads to fewer security holes down the line.
While I don't have a specific recommendation, here is a great resource for evaluating various Linux distributions:
There is a handy list on the right side titled, "Page Hit Ranking" that ranks most of the distributions listed here by how often they are viewed. On the page for each distribution is a list of resources that should help if anyone is researching this topic.
- Many providers offer one or more distributions that are usually known to work well with their hardware. This is why those providers do not immediately offer the latest distributions at the time of their release. Choose the one you're already familiar with.
- If you buy the server yourself it's sometimes a good choice to license the enterprise version a distributor offers because of the long term support. Of course some distributions also give you LTS releases. Just take a close look if you need special software or drivers for your individual server that only is supported on some special enterprise linuxes (e.g. take a look for what distros HP offers it's tools - and be it just a driver for adjusting the fan speed...).
(filler filler filler)
CentOS is more suitable to be used as a Server. It's the "free" version of RedHat Entreprise Linux. There is a lot of repos and you've got some help for it.
I'm use to work with RHEL, CentOS and Ubuntu Server, and my choice would definitly go to CentOS or RHEL (if you can afford the licence price!).