Cloud servers: Leading the pack in Linux VPS

Although Microsoft Windows still dominates the desktop operating system popularity, Linux has become a dominant force in cloud servers and virtual private servers (VPS). Linux is not only a cheaper way to host cloud applications, but it also comes in several distribution flavors.

Customers looking at cloud hosting as a solution can choose from CentOS, Fedora, Ubuntu and Debian. Each of these distributions offers the same basic functions, but they have different tweaks that some administrators like over other distributions.

Linux VPS versus Windows solutions

Aside from the more affordable option, what makes Linux better than Windows? First, the Apache hosting environment and the Linux operating system are free, so, no surprise, Linux is a cheaper hosting solution.

Apache hosting usually includes the "cPanel" control panel. cPanel is popular with end-users and is more easily managed than Plesk, the equivalent Windows solution for managing cloud web servers.

Linux hosting naturally supports the PHP and MySQL programming languages. PHP and MySQL are also free, so, again, Linux cloud hosting and VPS's pricing is lowered. MySQL is a database server used to host dynamic content, and unless the business wants static HTML files, it must use a database. Other solutions for this type of environment include Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server, which can cost thousands of dollars for dynamic content.

Popular blog hosting, forum software and content management systems also run natively on Linux. Joomla, WordPress, vBulletin and phpBB run on Linux servers and take only minutes to install. Windows supports DotNetNuke (DNN), but plugins and open-source resources for the former solutions are much more widespread, giving the business more options.

Advantages of Linux cloud hosting

Even the most high-performance cloud servers requiring high-powered hardware run smoothly on Linux. Microsoft Hotmail ran Linux for several years until it was leaked.

Windows servers require more memory and resources than Linux, so older servers can run the OS. So when the business upgrades operating systems, a new server might not be needed.

Moving sites across different Linux servers is also much easier than Windows. Each of the pre-packaged software, such as WordPress and MySQL, has applications that move Linux files to a new server. Windows applications require DLLs and possible other libraries to move files, so check with the application provider before transferring to a new server.

It’s important to establish the type of environment needed for a cloud host before deciding on Linux. But for new, small businesses starting out, Linux is the ultimate choice for VPS cloud hosting.

By Jennifer Marsh

Jennifer Marsh is a software developer, programmer and technology writer and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.

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