Unlike a Windows dedicated server, which is a specific, proprietary system—albeit with several versions—a Linux Dedicated server may be run with any of a number of Linux distributions. There are several things to consider when searching for the right Linux dedicated server. Understanding the basic differences between Linux vs Windows dedicated servers will help a webmaster find the best server to meet his/her individual needs. Learn more about Linux dedicated servers in this article.
What Is a Linux Dedicated Server?
A dedicated server may be either owned and managed by the web host, owned by the customer but housed by the web host, or owned and housed by the web host and managed by the customer, except for physical aspects. A Linux dedicated server is a dedicated server that is running a Linux distribution as its operating system. Linux distributions are built around the Linux kernel, giving them UNIX-like properties.
Because it has roots in the open-source movement, many Linux distributions are open source and free, meaning that it is usually less expensive to run a Linux dedicated server than a Windows dedicated server. When a Linux distribution is combined with Apache HTTP open source web server software, the MySQL relational database management system, and at least one computer language from the group Perl, PHP, and Python, the result is referred to by the acronym LAMP server-software. In addition to Apache, Linux distributions are used with Google, nginx, and lighttpd web servers, and of these, Google only runs Linux. A majority of the top 500 supercomputer systems are running a Linux distribution, as are half of the web hosting companies that are considered the most reliable.
Choices in Linux Dedicated Servers
There are many Linux distributions, but some of the ones you may find when seeking dedicated server hosting include Asianux, CentOS, Cobalt, Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, Mandriva, Oracle Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Linux, SuSE, and Ubuntu. Different distributions have different appeals, some having a more regular update schedule, some being more appropriate for advanced users, and some having a community known for its friendly helpfulness. Other choices in Linux dedicated servers are similar to those for Windows dedicated servers: disk space, memory, CPU, bandwidth, etc.
An Example of Linux Dedicated Server Hosting: SingleHop
The Linux dedicated server page of SingleHop explains that SingleHop offers two Linux operating systems: CentOS (4.x) and Debian (Latest stable release). CentOS, based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, is touted for its stability and reliability and is the most widely used Linux distribution, while Debian—a collaboratively developed software—is known for adhering closely to the UNIX and free software tenets. CentOS is an acronym for Community Enterprise Operating System, while Debian is a neologism formed from the initials of the programmer and his girlfriend at the time of its creation. However, if you go to the details for choices for a particular server hardware choice, the Linux operating system choices are listed as CentOS 5.x, CloudLinux, Debian Lenny, Ubuntu Server 8.x, Open SuSE 11.x, and Red Hat Enterprise. This is only one example of a poorly organized website, centered on server hardware descriptions, that makes it very difficult for a customer to compare service options.
The twelve hardware options for unmanaged Linux dedicated servers include ATOM, Xeon, Nehalem Xeon, and Core2 Duo and Quad processors at speeds ranging from 1.6 GHz to 3 GHz, 1 MB to 12 MB cache, hard drive sizes from 250 GB to 1 TB, RAM of 2 to 12 GB, all including 10 TB of bandwidth. A full half of these hardware offerings are marked as being on sale, with a number of RAM upgrades indicated. Prices (presumably per month—it is not clearly marked) range from $99 to $329/month.
There are fewer choices for fully managed servers. The same Linux distributions are offered, but the processors are ATOM, Core2Duo or Core2Quad, only one choice of each level of processor speeds from 1.6 GHz to 3.0 GHz, 250 or 500 GB hard drive space, 2–6 GB of RAM, all with 10 TB of bandwidth. Prices (again, presumably per month) are $149 to $264 a month, but notice that the lesser price comes with less hard drive space than the more expensive unmanaged options.
SingleHop also offers fully managed formation clusters featuring 10 different server choices, with processor speeds of 2.0 to 3.0 GHz, and 4-12 MB L2 cache, all fully customizable. Additionally available clustering services include firewalls, load balancing, SAN storage, database replication, a virtual or physical private rack, fall-over technology with heartbeat monitoring, and two-factor authentication. Prices are not provided on the website, but can be obtained by providing identifying information and requesting a quote.
Linux Dedicated Server Options
This is just an example of one web host and the Linux dedicated server options they have available, but it does give webmasters an idea of the many options that are out there and what to look for when searching for the right solution to meet your needs. Some sites don’t list all these details in a chart or simple format, but when you are talking with a sales representative you will have some ideas of things to ask about to ensure you are getting exactly what you need. As with any dedicated server, you will want to ensure that it is housed in a secure datacenter and also find out about management options. Some webmasters want to fully manage their own server but many others want the host to partially or fully manage the server for security, as well as time management.
Whatever your dedicated server needs may be, Linux dedicated servers are well known for their functionality and flexibility. Often cheaper than Windows servers, these servers provide many additional options that are not available with a Windows server. Our recommendation for a Linux dedicated server is BlueHost. See what they offer and if this is the right web hosting service to meet your needs.