Whenever you decide to shop for a new desktop or notebook computer, one of the most important aspects to consider apart from the price tag is the Operating System (OS) that runs the machine. Everybody who hasn’t been living in a cave for the last 20 years has heard of the two mainstream operating systems which come pre-installed on most new computers: Windows and Mac. What most people don’t know is that there is a third kind which is much less talked about. It’s called Linux. You may have never heard of it before coming across this website, yet Linux is one of the most widely used operating systems in the web hosting industry. As with desktops and notebooks, the operating system that runs a server plays an important role in selecting a web host for your website. When it comes to web hosting, Windows and Linux are the predominant operating systems, however, choosing between the two isn’t quite often as easy as choosing between a Windows and Mac machine.
The major difference between these two is that Linux an open source OS which means it is readily available for free while Windows is commercial software. The open source nature of Linux makes it cheaper to run and maintain than Windows. This in turn reflects in the pricing options of Linux hosting plans and is also why it is the most commonly offered hosting environment. A great number of scripts and software which are free and easy to install and configure are available on the internet which can be used to extend the functionality of Linux. Not only is Linux easy to install and use, it offers an array of robust tools to get the job done quickly and easily, making it the first choice for many users.
Dynamic websites which are designed by making use of programming languages such as PHP, Perl/CGI and MySQL tend to work best in a Linux environment. Linux also has the ability to run scripts such as html, cgi, shtm, xml in addition to FrontPage extensions. ASP, .NET, MSSQL, Windows Streaming Media, MS Access and other Microsoft products, on the other hand, run exclusively on a web hosting environment whilst PHP can quite easily be ported to a server running Windows.
Linux offers a higher level of security and stability and can easily be patched to provide greater protection. The primary reason for stability on Linux based servers stems from its ability to run a much larger number of processes, compared to Windows 2000 and NT servers, and results in higher uptime levels in the range of 99.9%. Moreover, Linux boxes are considered to offer faster performance as they only provide features which are essential to run the server along with the associated features for hosting a website, thus enabling users to extend their functionality as per requirement. Windows servers, on the other hand, tend to offer an all-in-one solution which makes them bulkier and affects performance.
Despite its many advantages and increasing popularity, Linux still has several shortcomings such as its inability to support the .NET platform and associated technologies. As a result, the hosting platform which fulfills both short and long term objectives should be chosen.