I need to setup a Linux-based server which is going to be the backend for our web services.

This is what I need: (In order of importance)

  1. A GUI to manage applications and files
  2. It would be running a custom built C++ server
  3. Probably also the LAMP stack, if needed.
  4. I would be trying out ERP or other serverside software on it also (optional).

Which Linux distribution do you recommend for such a use-case, considering I'm not an expert at any Unix-like OS (a week of experience with CentOS, some experience with Ubuntu).

This is what I understand about each distro:

  • Ubuntu - easy to use, the most popular, easy to install apps, no hassle
  • Debian - older, but might be tough to configure
  • CentOS - troublesome, hard to install apps
  • Mint - popular, based on Ubuntu and Debian

Edit: I have a lot of people recommending Ubuntu over CentOS(1, 2) for serverside apps. Is Ubuntu fine for such things? Its not slower than CentOS or anything troublesome?

And should I go with Ubuntu or Ubuntu Server? what are the advantages of either?

"Software installation is a breeze on Ubuntu. Even the server applications come with decent default configurations and are normally usable out-of-the-box. It's a software paradise."

  • Ubuntu Server! I use Ubuntu server and desktop and find both are very very easy to use/setup. server has no DE by default, and gives a nice little setup menu for configuring your server type. Other than that you just get all of the awesomeness of ubuntu. – rlemon Mar 21 '12 at 15:46
  • It is important to note you can Very Easily install Unity or some other DE on Ubuntu Server. It is just not there by default. – rlemon Mar 21 '12 at 15:47
  • @rlemon - Please add your comments as an answer. They're good. Remove the comments. – Robinicks Mar 21 '12 at 16:04

Most modern distros (including those you mentioned) have Xorg-based window manager out-of-box. They've got a compiler and a package manager. So the most non-trivial requirement if (4), ERP installation, you should check its documentation and see what it supports best.

As a software developer, I would choose Ubuntu, it's updated often and has zillion packages in 'universe' repo, you set it up, install ufw and other tools you need, and you are practically done. However, I would take some 'stricter' distro like CentOS for production.

  • So you're saying CentOS is better for production servers? Why? – Robinicks Mar 21 '12 at 16:03
  • It doesn't install a huge bunch of packages by default, it has SELinux enabled by default, IIRC. – vissi2 Mar 23 '12 at 0:03

CentOS is a clone (binary compatible by design) of the by far most popular enterprise distribution, Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It isn't hard to handle, just (like all enterprisey distributions) has a limited selection of software out of the box, and feels a bit outmoded if you are into bleeding edge. For extra software that is 100% compatible, look at EPEL.

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