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I've using Debian since 2010 for some home purposes and it has been stable. Is Debian still a good option if I need a server for heavy network, cpu, disk and memory usage?

Last month I listened to some admins say that RedHat is the most stable in bulk operations and that CentOS is a free version of RHEL. Their opinion is that CentOS is the best free distro. CentOS is getting very popular in my country (Dominican Republic) and I've wondered if Debian is getting behind.

Can RedHat, Debian, CentOS or Suse be used for bulk operations servers?

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Or you could use FreeBSD ;) –  new123456 Apr 27 '12 at 20:37
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up vote 21 down vote accepted

This kind of question cannot possibly be answered objectively. For many reasons:

  1. The word stable could mean literally anything. It's easy to find benchmarks (random example off Google) comparing certain particular aspects of computing, but to go as far as declare a distro more "stable" or "performant" or any other broad term like this is a bit far fetched.

  2. There's a big difference between a vanilla install of a distribution and a tweaked one. With proper hacking, Debian, Red Hat, SuSE or any other distro can be made to behave the way you want. In any case, should you encounter any stability/performance issue, you'll find ways to overcome them regardless of the distro you're using.

  3. Most of the work that makes a system stable happens in the kernel, that is Linux. Now this may lead distros to act a bit differently, since each ships with separate versions of the kernel, activating certain modules or not. However since installing your own kernel is always an option (again, only do this after profiling your system and detecting issues there), this is not inherent to the distro itself, but to different instances of the kernel.

  4. It is a bit misguided to imagine that distros will compete on that level. They usually compete on the level of what admin tools they offer (package management is the best example), the quality of help and documentation (Ubuntu targets the casual desktop user, where Red Hat addresses the seasoned corporate sysadmin) or the quality of their commercial support.

My personal advice to you is not to get dragged into these meaningless flamewars (my distro is better than yours). Ultimately, it's a matter of personal preferences. Try something for yourself and you'll quickly realize that even though each distro acts a bit differently, there's virtually nothing one can do that the others can't. It helps knowing someone in real life who's already familiar with one distro (in your case CentOS).

Also, Debian is waaaaay more stable than RHEL or CentOS.

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"4.It is a bit misguided to imagine that distros will compete on that level. They usually compete on the level of what admin tools they offer (package management is the best example), the quality of help and documentation (Ubuntu targets the casual desktop user, where Red Hat addresses the seasoned corporate sysadmin) or the quality of their commercial support." Nobody could say it better –  Jhonnytunes Apr 27 '12 at 15:27
    
Lol, mine is Debian. MY pals are who talks me about the superior centos is. But, Ill stick with Debian, if I know I can use it for bulk operations. –  Jhonnytunes Apr 27 '12 at 15:29
    
Just wanted to add that over the last years, especially after Torvalds change the Kernel-Release-Schedule, the customizations got fewer and most distros ship more or less the vanilla kernel again. –  Fabian Zeindl May 2 '12 at 18:16
    
@FabianZeindl, can you elaborate on that? I was under the impression that Ubuntu crashes because of bad kernels. –  aitchnyu Jul 28 '12 at 6:28
    
Sure, crashes are still caused by it. I used Desktop-Linux from ~2002 - ~2008. I noticed in that time that after kernel.org changed it's development schedules, there are much fewer modifications by the distros. Before that time between stable kernel-releases was much larger, so they added a lot of patches by themselves. –  Fabian Zeindl Jul 28 '12 at 13:02
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For a serious server environment looking for a no-cost option, CentOS is definitely the way to go.

It is billed as the "free" version of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), and is pretty much the same operating system with different branding.

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Not much difference to Debian - with regards to cost. –  Nils Apr 27 '12 at 20:45
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In terms of stability, I've found no difference between Centos and Debian (stable). I have machines running Debian Squeeze, Centos 5.8, Centos 6.2, and Slackware. Use Centos if there is a specific piece of software that is unavailable for Debian, otherwise I would stick with Debian. Since stability is the question I would stick away from Sid.

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I think that the best choice as a server OS is CentOS even though RedHat is better! CentOS is a derivative from RedHat, it gets RedHat, changed it a bit (on change in kernel) and distributed under the name of CentOS. So the two are same. The great advantage on CentOS is that its free and the great advantage of RedHat is its extensive and long-term support. So if you want to setup a network for a small business or something similar CenOS is the best but if you are seeking a server OS that can handle a large-scale or enterprise network the best seems to be RedHat, But remember that RedHat RHEL is expensive.

about SUSE: OpenSUSE is good, powerful, robust, secure, free, networking-oriented(!!) but all a level lower in comparison to the two mentioned above.

about Ubntu(derived from Debian): It lacks all the features a server must have!

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OpenSuSE is not robust - and I really liked it. The biggest drawback is its short livetime. SLES ist better - but that is the costly SuSE variant. –  Nils Apr 27 '12 at 20:47
    
What do you mean with "Ubuntu lacks all the features a server must have". I'm running Ubuntu on almost every server i administer for years, and never missed anything. –  Fabian Zeindl May 2 '12 at 18:17
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I define "stable" from a security perspective. In that perspective there were many Debian CVEs in the past, since it tried to incorporate the newest features. RedHat, and such CentOS is far more conservative in that aspect.

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Nowadays most Linux kernel and Linux distros are stable, compare to years before.

But still, some stable are stabler then the others. But it doesn't matter a lot unless 99.8% uptime isn't good for you and you seeking for 99.999%

Some new Linux distros (e.g. Archlinux) do get very close to latest build of everything and bring a lot of new features and still stable enough for home use.

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In my personal point of view, Scientific Linux is a great option (backed up by CERN and fermilab), based on RHEL, years of support,

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