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What is Linux Hosting ?

Nathan Finch——Last Updated on May 14, 2021

linux penguinWhile you’ve probably heard of Linux before, you might not be intimately familiar with what it is. Part of that issue is that Linux itself is sort of like an operating system framework from which Linux-based OSs are made.

These are called distributions, or ‘distros’. 

So for example, a popular Linux distribution that you might have heard of is Ubuntu, which is commonly suggested as a replacement for Windows and iOS.

Interestingly enough, this split between Windows and Linux for OSs actually goes to web hosting as well. This is why you might sometimes see an option to choose between one or the other. The question then becomes “which option should I go for?”


How does Web Hosting Work?

Without getting into too many technicalities, the main thing you need to know is that all websites are hosted on some kind of web server, including things like.

These web servers themselves then are essentially just super-charged and amped-up computers similar to the ones you have at home. While the hardware is more industrial level, the architecture remains fairly the same.

This is why there are also server versions of Linux and Windows, as web servers also need some form of operating system to run. 

For the most part, when you get access to a web host, you’re generally sharing some of that hardware as a percentage or slice. As such, the way that slicing is managed is done through an app that runs on one of those OSs, and therefore the choice of OS becomes important.

OS choice is also important for dedicated hosting, although we’ll get to that in a bit.


What is Linux Hosting?

web hosting sfor small businessSo, given what we’ve covered so far, you’ve probably come to the realization that Linux Hosting is exactly that: A web server that runs a Linux OS, rather than a Windows or other OS. 

Ironically, Linux wasn’t originally the preferred OS because even though it was stable and easy to maintain, it had no control Panel (or cPanel), and therefore it was difficult to administrate.

In fact, admins had to connect through something called SSH through a terminal, basically what you’d imagine a 90’s-era movie hacker does. 

Then in the 2000s Red Hat Linux came along and changed the game. Not only was the new cPanel popular, but CentOs, which is a Linux distribution based on Red Hat, has become the standard Linux server OS. 


Windows vs Linux Hosting

scalesNaturally, this begs the question: Which operating system should I go with? A Windows-based one or a Linux-based one? 

Well, the truth is that while in the past they traded blows in which ones was better, nowadays their differences are minimal.

They both mostly offer the same sorts of applications, and it’s doubtful that you’d be able to do something in one that you can’t do in another.

As such, the majority of choice now comes down to preference and what you like more.

Realistically, if you’re going with some kind of blogging platform or shared hosting, the decision won’t really be up to you. Of course, if you do have that sort of choice in front of you, here are a few things to consider when trying to make a decision.

Control Panels

When it comes to Linux, there’s actually no real integrated control panel, but instead comes in the form of a 3rd-party application. In this case, the most popular one tends to be cPanel. For the most part, your host will likely include the cPanel as part of the package, mostly because it’s also really easy to install WordPress through it.

As such you’re likely to find it with WordPress hosts if they use Linux.

As for Windows, the control panel is called Plesk, but essentially functions in the same capacity as cPanel. 

So which should you pick? Well, ultimately most people pick Linux and cPanel because it’s better overall when it comes to working with web pages. This means web development, but it can also apply to being a webmaster. 

Stability & Security

Ubuntu SecurityIn terms of stability, Linux tends to outperform Windows quite handily. This is mostly due to the fact that Linux is generally very lightweight compared to Windows, and so is less prone to instability when exposed to something new.

This also has the knock-on effect of also making Linux faster than Windows, and able to handle multiple web servers compared to Windows.

As for Security, they’re relatively evenly matched, although Windows is a bit more vulnerable than Linux. Ultimately though, how secure a web server depends more on the admins and their security steps than the OS the server runs on.

Compatibility

Windows is generally more widely used in larger and more complex IT infrastructures like you’d find in massive corporations. The main reason for this is that Windows server is already compatible with the applications that the majority of people use (think things like Office 365 and Windows for the Desktop).

Compare that to running all these Windows machines and their apps on a completely different operating system like Linux, and you start to see the problem. So in this case, even if you’re a small business, going with a Windows server for the sake of easier integration and compatibility is well worth it.

Also, windows is a must if you want to use the .Net framework and things like MS-SQL databases and ASP.NET.

Interface

Probably the thing that puts most people off Linux is that they have to use the terminal and written out commands to get things done. For those who aren’t very familiar with Linux and don’t know how command lines work, this is a steep learning curve that’s hard to get over, especially when setting up and administering a server.

That being said, you can always get the cPanel to mitigate the issue, so it’s not as bad as it used to be.

On the other hand, Windows is a lot more familiar, and while it won’t be the same as the desktop version with a start menu, it will be easier to use. 

Cost

Price TagThis is usually the biggest decider when it comes to choosing between Linux and Windows. You see, Linux is open-source, and that essentially means that it’s completely free and doesn’t cost you anything to install on your server. 

Windows on the other hand is not open-source, and in fact, tends to be expensive.

Not only do you have to pay for the licensing cost of the Windows Server OS, but you also have to get more beefy hardware since Windows isn’t as lightweight as Linux. 

Yep, Windows is so not lightweight you have to factor in the hardware when looking at cost.


Conclusion

So to recap, while most of the time you likely won’t have a choice for an operating system, purchasing a dedicated server or VPS hosting can give you a bit of choice. 

In that circumstance, you’ll probably want to pick Linux if you’re going to be running a web server, or something like WordPress.org. The cPanel and the fact that Linux is more lightweight means that Linux hosting works nearly perfectly for websites.

On the other hand, if you’re getting a server for integration with a workplace then Windows is probably the better option due to compatibility.

That being said, it’s the more expensive option, so while you could still get Linux to save on costs, you’ll probably have to do a lot of trial and error to get the mismatch between Linux and Windows desktops to work. Also, you really don’t have much choice if you need to use ASP.NET, MS-SQL databases, or the .Net Core.

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