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.

  • Try a few, see what one you like best. I've used ubuntu server, debian and now Im sticking with centos... just because I like the way it works. as far as performance they are all the same (more or less) – HTDutchy Oct 11 '11 at 13:28

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.

  • 2
    There's no one "best" distribution, of course; any of a number would be good for your situation. Ubuntu is currently pretty good - but the bottom line is: Does it do what I need it to do? Ubuntu is proven in situations like yours, as are others - CentOS was mentioned, Debian, and others could be mentioned. My recommendation - pick one, install it, test - and if it works, and you are able to administer the system easily - stick with it. – Ken Ray Jun 10 '10 at 17:38

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.

  • I have used Ubuntu a lot and I am most comfortable with that so I think I will go with the server flavor of Ubuntu. Just to make sure though, does Ubuntu Server have a window system installed by default? – Mark Szymanski Jun 10 '10 at 17:12
  • By default, Ubuntu Server should not install a GUI/window system. – David Jun 10 '10 at 21:18
  • Why do you care so much about what is being installed by default? You can always change things after install. – rvs Jun 16 '11 at 14:17

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.

  • I personally don't like CentOS just because it needs 4 cds to install which to me implies that it installs too much stuff I really don't need. I usually need to update everything after an install anyone so I prefer to just use the package manager to download it from the net. – wag2639 Jun 11 '10 at 0:21
  • You dont "need" 4 CDs to load Centos. I've got a base installer thats just one and I install what I want from there. – ErnieTheGeek Jun 16 '11 at 14:02
  • Another options is to use netinstall cd, which is even less than 1 cd. – rvs Jun 16 '11 at 14:17
  • A lot of distros provide a multi-cd install with all the packages they have available (More or less) debian also has 14 install CDs or something like that. – Not Available Oct 11 '11 at 13:38
  • Centos has multiple CDs including all the packages you might want to install. You might not use all the CDs in the install process - it all depends which packages you choose and which CDs they are on. – dunxd Oct 11 '11 at 13:50

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.


Consider this:

  • 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...).

Debian Stable.

(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!).

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