9 reasons Linux is a popular choice for servers

9 reasons Linux is a popular choice for servers

For businesses and organizations that need reliable, secure servers to host data, applications, or services around the world, Linux is often the platform of choice. From powering websites to managing network infrastructure to running enterprise databases, there are countless reasons people have turned to Linux as their go-to server solution over the past few decades.

Let’s explore nine unique advantages of Linux and why it’s such a popular option for setting up and maintaining servers from emerging startups all the way to full enterprise deployments.

Overview of Linux and its popularity in the server world

Linux is an open source kernel known for its versatility and power that makes it the industry standard for running web servers, applications, and other intensive workloads across a wide variety of Linux Distributions. Whether you’re running dynamically scaled workloads in the cloud, creating your own private cloud infrastructure, or just need a few bullet-proof web servers, the flexibility, scalability, and security of Linux make it an ideal choice. It can be used to build reliable, secure, high performance web servers or as the basis for a custom application development environment.

Linux is based on UNIX principles, offering efficient multitasking capability with support for multiple users, groups, and access control lists (ACLs). The most common distributions of Linux include Ubuntu, Suse, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux,which offer comprehensive software libraries and security features. 

Linux’s popularity also stems from its flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Many companies now use Linux servers as part of their IT infrastructure in a variety of environments, such as embedded systems, private clouds, and endpoint devices. The open source nature of Linux also makes it an attractive choice for developers who want to customize their operating systems without being tied to a single vendor.

1. Open-source nature and customization flexibility

Linux is well known for being an open source platform, which allows users to customize the system. This flexibility and customization makes Linux an ideal choice for server operational environments. For example, developers can access code repositories, modify source code, and build custom versions of the kernel.

In addition to adapting the kernel to specific needs, developers also have access to a wide variety of software packages available with most Linux distributions. These packages can be used to add additional functionality or security features, such as firewalls or intrusion detection systems (IDS). Additionally, many distributions come with tools such as lshw (list hardware) and lspci (list devices), which allow administrators to view detailed information about the hardware and devices connected to the server.

2. Range of applications and tools

Linux has become such a popular choice for servers because of its  wide range of applications and tools, which allow users to customize their systems and configure them to perform virtually any task.

The most common uses for Linux servers include web hosting, database management, file sharing, game servers and virtualization — all of which require specific software packages or libraries to run properly. Fortunately, the open source nature of Linux makes it easy to find the necessary components for any type of application or use case. The need to purchase expensive commercial software is reduced.

In addition to its vast array of applications and tools, Linux also offers an impressive range of user-friendly features that make it a great choice for administrators who want to manage their server environment with ease. For example, administrators can leverage projects like Terraform or Ansible to manage large numbers of Linux servers or VMs all at once. Rather than logging in to each system and configuring them individually, the Linux ecosystem makes it easy to deploy and configure environments through repeatable, automated actions.

3. Security

Built from the ground up with security in mind, Linux has numerous features that make it difficult to breach. An important security feature is access control capability, which allows admins to set permissions and restrictions on user accounts and files. For example, administrators can set read-only or write-only access rights for users to prevent unauthorized programs from executing on their servers.

Additionally, Linux supports multiple authentication methods such as username/password combinations, smart cards, biometrics, and digital certificates. These provide an extra layer of protection by verifying the identity of each user before granting access to data and resources.

The open source nature of Linux means that anyone can find, report, or fix a security issue. This is in major contrast to proprietary systems like Windows, with which you’re mostly at the mercy of the vendor to identify and fix bugs before hackers find them and use them maliciously.

Linux source code is public, which means that anyone can check their developers’ work to see if they left a door open for hackers. Because of this, Linux is generally seen as more secure than Windows and other proprietary operating systems.

4. Reliability

Linux has been a popular choice for server operating systems due to its outstanding reliability. It’s incredibly secure, which makes it well-suited for mission-critical tasks. Linux’s robust open-source codebase and highly active development community mean bugs can  quickly be identified and patched. Additionally, many available packages make tools easily accessible to complete the tasks at hand.

Long-term support (LTS) versions of Linux distributions allow users to upgrade reliably without worrying about compatibility issues. Many companies provide dedicated LTS versions designed specifically for use as servers, with guaranteed support and security updates for up to five years or more.

5. Community support and resources

Linux is widely used as a server operating system due to its robust community support and resources. Support includes user forums, online knowledge bases, live chat help desks, and detailed tutorials.

Linux users benefit from the abundance of  dedicated forums. They are filled with experienced professionals eager to help those who may be having trouble with setup or who have questions regarding configuration options. Many forums offer personalized advice and general information on topics ranging from hardware compatibility to troubleshooting common issues.

6. Cost-effectiveness compared to proprietary software

Linux can be used to run mission-critical applications while still being affordable. In most cases, you can save money on licensing fees because Linux requires fewer resources than other operating systems. Linux is cheaper because, unless you’re paying for RHEL or Oracle, there are no license fees. But it’s important to note that it can require more advanced years than other licensed and supported operating systems.

 Scaling Linux can be done easily and seamlessly. It runs exceptionally well on both physical and virtual machines and can easily handle large loads while maintaining availability and uptime. This makes it ideal for applications that require reliability, such as web hosting and database management.

7. Scalability for handling large amounts of data and traffic

Linux is highly scalable, making it an ideal platform for servers that handle large amounts of data and traffic. It can run hundreds of services simultaneously and can be configured to provide elastic responses that match the user’s demand. This scalability extends to more than hardware – Linux can scale across multiple systems for added efficiency and flexibility. It offers advanced features like virtualization and fault tolerance for ensuring business continuity. It also offers cutting edge features for developers like the eBPF virtual machine and io_uring that allow developers to track kernel events, and do I/O operations with much more efficiency. Linux’s stability makes it perfectly suited for mission-critical applications when reliability is crucial. Many users rely on eBPF and robust “user mode” protections to ensure errors or failures don’t affect the entire system. Containers and VMs also exist to further isolate what the kernel and userspace cannot isolate.

8. Compatibility with hardware and software platforms

Linux is well-known for its compatibility with various hardware and software platforms. This makes it ideal for server use, as it can be deployed in almost any environment. It’s also possible to install Linux on multiple hardware types, from laptops to the latest servers. And since there are many Linux distributions available, you can find one that fits your specific needs.

9. Continued growth and usage of Linux for servers

With its vast array of features and robust security, Linux provides a reliable platform for running mission-critical systems. Open-source Linux makes it easy for developers to create custom solutions for their specific needs. The cost savings associated with using Linux on servers can be significant compared to dedicated operating systems.

Linux has grown incredibly popular as evidenced by its widespread use in web hosting services, cloud computing solutions, home routers, IoT devices, TVs, cars, refrigerators, and basically anything else that is or has a computer that isn’t a Windows or Mac desktop or laptop. Its lightweight design enables it to consume fewer resources while providing powerful performance levels, which are ideal for server tasks like database management or application hosting.

If you’re thinking about using Linux for your servers, these nine reasons provide a great starting point to help you decide if it’s right for your business. From security and stability to flexibility and affordability, there are many compelling reasons to give Linux a try.