server installation

What is the best Operating System for Servers?

Windows or Linux?

The discussion between these two systems is a false dilemma, since they are not the same and not all of us require the same thing.

In reality, the ideal will be the one that best suits your needs.

Choosing an operating system for our vps hosting is a fundamental decision, so in this article we will delve into what is an operating system (OS), what is a client OS and a server OS, what are their differences, how I can find out the OS of a server, what is really Linux, how Windows Server is defined and what are the main strengths and weaknesses of Linux and Windows.

What is an operating system and what is it for?

An operating system (OS) is a computer program whose main objective is to allow the interaction between user and machine.

It also performs other functions such as managing the memory and files of the computer or coordinating communication between hardware (physical elements of the computer) and software (programs or applications). In other words, the OS is the main program of a computer.

What is a client OS?

It is an operating system for desktop computers, laptops and mobile devices that connects central servers on the Internet through telecommunications software.

As a “client” it makes requests to a server OS. In addition, operating systems designed for client computers run on specific hardware and can include Windows, Linux, Mac or Android.

What is an OS server?

It is an operating system for rugged computers that “serve” data to their “customers” over the Internet.

We can also define it as a platform for running multi-user applications and programs. They can communicate with other servers to meet a specific client request and are used to efficiently manage network resources.

What is the difference between client OS and server OS?

The client operating system is the OS designed for desktops (PCs) or handheld devices.

It is intended for the personal use of a user, such as Mac or Windows, and acts as a client when making requests to the server OS, which is a powerful computer that “serves” services or resources to different clients or computer equipment.

How can I know the operating system of a server?

Normally, if you consult your vps hosting provider, they will provide you with information about the operating system of the server where your website is hosted.

Another formula is to use pages like this one, where by simply entering a URL you will be able to know the operating system used, the server, the IP, the latest changes and even the data center.

Linux or Windows for servers?

As you will remember, servers are specialized computer equipment whose purpose is to host files or applications that are then made available to networked computers or users called “clients”.

Servers have specific functions and require a special type of operating system, such as Windows Server or GNU/Linux.

  • There are several OS options for servers. 66.9% of websites use GNU/Linux distributions, while 33.1% use Windows, according to the most recent W3 Techs report.
  • Both Windows and Linux/GNU are the most popular operating systems for web servers. Let’s see exactly what they are and what their particularities are.

What exactly is Linux?

I personally use Linux based vservers of DigitalOcean for developing apps.

Linux is the name of a free operating system and free software whose source code can be modified by any user, but in reality Linux designates a common kernel, also called a kernel, based on Unix OS.

The real name of Linux is GNU/Linux and is distributed through the GNU General Public License (GPL).

Is Linux the same as GNU/Linux?

Linux is the kernel of an operating system that would not work by itself if we did not add other resources.

At the time, the GNU project (GNU’s Not Unix) needed to be a complete operating system and from the union of the GNU tools and the Linux kernel came the operating system we call GNU/Linux.

What is a Linux distribution?

A Linux distribution is nothing more than a variant or revision of the kernel, that is, of Linux.

There are more than 600 distributions and some of them are Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS and RHEL. Each one has its own particularities, but they are all Linux and, therefore, free and open source software.

Some important features of the distributions are the following:

  • Languages and databases. Linux works well with the script languages PHP, Ruby, Python and Perl, and with the databases MySQL and MariaDB.
  • Specialization. It is difficult to generalize, since each distribution specializes in something and is developed by different communities or companies, but all share characteristics because they start from a kernel or common core.

What are the advantages of Linux?

The use of Linux distributions for servers, or operating systems based on Linux, has some benefits, such as the following:

  • Cost reduction. Most Linux distributions are available on the Internet for free download. Even when they charge for technical support is cheaper than Windows. Also VPS packages are generally cheaper than Windows VPS.
  • Security In Windows, malware and virus attacks are a daily occurrence. In Linux they are less frequent. Also, in Linux only the administrator can make important changes and it is not possible to hide files from you.
  • Stability. Linux is distinguished by its ability to run a large number of processes at the same time, as well as being a fast and robust system. Also, it does not require constant disk defragmentation, which is the case with other OS.
  • Community of programmers. Linux has the disinterested help of thousands of users and developers of free software, in addition to extensive documentation to learn and improve.
  • Graphical environments. One of the great advantages of Linux is that it supports a wide variety of graphical environments (such as GNOME, KDE, GNOME or XFCE, for example).

What are the disadvantages of Linux?

  • Compatibility issues. Some programs are not compatible with Linux and there are also compatibility problems with the hardware, so look for free drivers.
  • No guarantee of specialized support. Although many Linux distributions have forums to support you, developers usually don’t provide professional technical support in case you have problems. An exception is the case of the RHEL distribution, which does, but at a cost.
  • Unkind to novice users. There are configurations, updates and specific functions that could be difficult for inexperienced users. For example, the fact that many adjustments have to be made by commands.


What exactly is Windows Server?

Windows Server is Microsoft’s operating system specialized in server management, although it remains in the shadow of Linux in terms of server popularity. It is a private software, which implies that its code is not public and the updates depend on the company, which may or may not charge for them.

Some important features of Windows Server are the following:

  • Development It is developed in C, C++ and assembly.
  • Languages. Windows Server works with the script languages ASP.NET and VBScript.
  • Databases. Its compatible databases are Microsoft Access and Microsoft SQL Server.
  • Type of system. According to Microsoft, it is a multiuser and multiprocess system, to which companies usually resort.
  • Different versions. There are several versions or distributions of Windows Server, including Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2012, Windows Esential Business Server or Windows Server 2016.

What are the advantages of Windows Server?

  • User-friendly. This is one of Microsoft’s main goals and it usually achieves it. The multiple icons and intuitive handling of this OS make it manageable for a large number of users.
  • Guaranteed support. Although with a cost, Microsoft counts on experts always available to solve the doubts and problems that could arise during the operation of the OS.
  • Updates. One of the benefits of this operating system is that the updates are automated and very easy to install.
  • System Recovery. Another advantage of Microsoft is that it fixes technical bugs through system recovery.
  • Easy installation of drivers and applications. If you want to change or install a new driver (the software for a hardware device to work properly) you will do it easily. The same goes for programs. Microsoft usually has the most functional and up-to-date drivers.
  • Exclusivity. Windows Server has exclusive applications such as SharePoint or Exchange.

Also read this article about Windows Server 2019 features.

What are the disadvantages of Windows Server?

  • Rising costs. You need to pay a license to use it. Since it is private, everything must be paid for: the operating system, specialized support, additional functions and sometimes also some updates.
  • Security issues. From time to time gaps are discovered regarding the permissions of different users. Virus and malware attacks are also more frequent.
  • Stability and performance. Both performance and stability are not the best when consuming a large amount of resources, as for example with the use of GUI (graphical user interface).
  • Technical knowledge. They are required for advanced level installations and configurations.

Which is better, Linux or Windows Server?

Each alternative has its pros and cons. For example, if you are looking for low cost, security and stability, the ideal OS will be some Linux distribution. On the other hand, if you require ease of use and guaranteed support, Windows Server is a better option.

In any case, the needs of your project will determine which is the most convenient operating system.