I have a VPS with 256MB of RAM that I'm setting up. I plan to eventually move the sites that I currently host on shared hosting accounts over to the VPS. The domains received an aggregate of 2,046,164 requests last month (according to traffic logs), though it can vary a bit up or down depending on the level of social media traffic that one of the sites gets.

Currently I've set things up as an Ubuntu LAMP configuration, which is using 137MB of the total RAM without any traffic coming in. I haven't really tried tweaking Apache2, as I'm unsure of what figures I should put in for maxclients and the related process settings.

I was told that Debian is a bit lighter-weight than Ubuntu, requiring significantly less RAM. Would it be a good idea to scrap my current install and go with Debian to save on RAM? How great are the savings?


If you don't run unnecessary services or GUI, they shouldn't be all that different. Ubuntu is based on Debian. It also tends to have more programs and addons available via the default repository system, but I haven't checked to see how true that is lately.

I would think that you might want Ubuntu simply because of the available help base and that Ubuntu isn't as philosophically strict. In the end either one should work fine, and whichever one you are more familiar with is the one you should probably try using.

The person that told you Debian was significantly smaller may have been comparing the desktop Ubuntu with a server installation of Debian.

You should be able to get Ubuntu Server to run in a pared down state without too much headache.

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    I've found that Debian and Ubuntu have pretty much the same amount in their repos. The only real difference is debian support odd packages much better, and ubuntu supports non-free packages much better. – Cian Sep 5 '09 at 20:02
  • @Cian-there you go...Debian vs. Ubuntu is just a matter of philosophy :-) If it's just trying to get a server to work properly without hassle I prefer to go without politics. But that's just me...in this case they shouldn't be all that different for his purposes. Just don't install extras that aren't needed, like X. – Bart Silverstrim Sep 5 '09 at 20:44

Debian/Ubuntu on a VPS should use pretty much the same amount of RAM. Ubuntu's likely to have slightly newer versions of most things which may use slightly more RAM, but not an awful lot more. Otherwise, the only difference is between the base install on ubuntu, which tends to be slightly shinier. On the server version this shouldn't be an issue though.

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The default configuration for Apache is "good enough" for most purposes, so you should not have to tweak connection parameters. Do some load testing to see how it works under stress. If you have static pages it should not even break a sweat.

You will, however, need to tell Apache you host several domains so it knows to serve out the correct pages for a given connection string.

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