Linux Distros for Servers

10 Best Linux Distros for Servers (2023)

Are you looking for Linux distros to use in setting up your server? We have done the research for you to make it easier for you to choose. The article below recommend some of the best Linux distros for servers in the market.

  • UbuntuOverall Best Linux Distro for Servers
  • DebianBest Most Stable Linux Distro for Servers
  • Red Hat Enterprise LinuxBest Linux Distro for Cloud-Based Servers
  • FedoraBest Linux Distro Server with Frequent Updates and Releases
  • Arch LinuxBest Linux Distro Server with Customizable Features

Best Linux Distros for Servers

In a Linux community, the question that users often ask is what distribution will be compatible to run on their computers. The answer is given due attention most times with clarity. However, when it comes to servers, not much is said or asked about them. So, in this article, that’s what we will put into a conversation, plus their pros and cons. There are several types of distribution going by what is on  and by number, there are up to a thousand of them. But you cannot choose without a taste of it, getting guidance from experts, or seeing reviews of those who have firsthand experience.

There are many and also alternatives, but when it’s to servers, they are limited. Thus, the ones we will be getting down on here are the top-ranked by reliability, performance stability, and widely used among other features. If you aim at choosing distros for your servers you are in the right place.

What Makes a Linux Distros Good for Servers

Linux Distros are considered above any other operating system for servers because they are open-source and allow modification. Customization is something that comes with it. It’s very stable and has solid software management. They are command-line based and can run on any computer be it old or new desktops and laptops. Cloud base compatibility is another thing that made Linux distros good for servers as it does not require any GUI to see this through hence, does not eat up space.

Unless there is a precise reason or app-related issues that prompt one to want to use another OS, Linux has a better preference for web servers. Additionally, the distros have nothing to do with installing antivirus to aid system, web, and file security. Its security has already been developed with it. As a result of this high security and privacy level, it is preferred for servers.

Best Linux Distros for Servers

With some tips on what makes Linux distros stand out for servers, knowing which distro is best for your server will be the next shift. Now, without taking too much time, let’s dive into describing the top ten Linux Distros for Servers.

Ubuntu — Overall Best Linux Distro for Servers

  • Min. Processor: 1GHz dual-core processor
  • Min. RAM: 1GB system memory
  • Min. Storage: 2.5GB of free hard drive space

First right up is Ubuntu server, a Linux distro that is built on Debian, but has a different developer known as Canonical. By a developers' survey, it is the most popular among public and private cloud platforms. Whether it is an OpenStack cloud, a 50,000-node render, or a Kubernetes cluster, the performance is top-notch. Ubuntu comes in two releases. The intermediary often releases every six months and last for nine months. And the long-term support (LTS) for every five years. The LTS version is often recommended for servers. The current release was in April 2022 and is expected to be outdated in April 2027.

That’s how much stability, reliability, versatility, and user-friendliness Ubuntu server has. It runs on majorly all hardware and software. Hence, it has compatibility with several architectures ranging from ARM64, POWER/POWER10, IBM zSystems, and x86-64 among others. Due to its LTS, Ubuntu by default standard does receive security updates for about 2,500 packages in its repository. It can update to QEMU (v6.2), MySQL (v8.0.28), Python (v3.10.1), and more.

Pros & Cons of Ubuntu


  • Ubuntu is widely known and this makes its usage on servers more flexible.
  • It has an editing tool like Juju that works on a public cloud like Microsoft Azure and an OpenStack of a private cloud. The tool help deploy an entire workload in just some spins.
  • It has MAAS (Metal as a Service) that enables you to connect your server to set up an installation infrastructure.
  • Obuntu among other distros has the best hardware support. They are consistent in releasing new hardware drivers on every LTS release.
  • It can run on any type of server.


  • Not so suitable for beginners.
  • It does not have support for the most popular games.
  • It is not that of a community-oriented distro, it is maintained by Canonical.
  • The intermediary release of Ubuntu is not suitable to be used on servers.
  • Due to the lesser span release of Ubuntu intermediary, security update packages are few.

Debian — Best Most Stable Linux Distro for Servers

  • Min. Processor: 1GHz Pentium processor
  • Min. RAM: 512MB system memory
  • Min. Storage: 10GB of free hard drive space

The second on the list is Debian. This is one of the distro servers that has been in existence since 1993. It has three versions, Debian unstable, testing, and stable. However, the stable version was released in 1996 and it’s well-known and used widely. Therefore, it is preferred by most server administrators. Unlike Ubuntu which has canonical supporting and maintaining it, Debian server is solely run by people i.e. user community. Also, it’s not like the LTS releases or some specific time frame release like some other distro server.

The developers often take their time to work on it and release it when it’s ready. So, it is stable because it does not experience frequent updates. Though this might be a downside, it has been a major strength that made the distro reach the masses. Note that, when you are using a cloud server, it becomes interesting because the issue of updates will be catered to. Installing Debian on your server is quite different from other distros, it involves the use of CDs, DVDs, or USBs.

What will interest you is that you can install Debian on your server without having to download all the packages. Also, since it’s done from CDs, it’s simple and will not require any internet connection.

Pros & Cons of Debian


  • It is a solely community base distro server
  • It is very stable
  • Highly secured
  • The distribution is for free and has other alternatives
  • It is easy to install and comes with an installation guide.


  • It has no company to support it. It is community-based
  • The packages on its stable repository available for download are often old version
  • The drivers or software on the stable repository are usually out of date
  • Due to the repository, deploying Debian distro on some new servers is quite challenging.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux — Best Linux Distro for Cloud-Based Servers

  • Min. Processor: 1GHz processor
  • Min. RAM: 1.5GB system memory
  • Min. Storage: 10GB of free hard drive space

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) before now was a free distro when the distribution was still on the desktop release. However, things take a turn for a price to be paid when it became commercialized. And adding up new features to be suitable for servers. It has various price tags and for servers, per license cost $349, it’s pricey. What to mention is that you are not actually paying for the software. It’s an open source, thus it is for free.

The price tag is for the support agreement that will get you to download the distro. Compared to other servers that are not Red Hat-related, it has a package manager called ‘yum’ to help take care of needs but has now changed to ‘dnf’. Red Hat is very stable but what turns users off is the cost, it will get down on your pocket. If you can afford its support agreement, RHEL is a better choice.

Since it is enterprise-focused, it works on any interface, be it virtually, physically, or cloud-based. The primary uniqueness RHEL has above others is its academy. There are chances to acquire different skills on the website, get trained by experts, and earn a certificate that will uplift your career. Every distro release has a 10-years lifecycle.

Pros & Cons of RHEL


  • It is enterprise focused
  • It has 30 days free trial
  • It is highly stable
  • It has long-term support (LTS)
  • The privilege of getting trained by experts and obtaining certification


  • Unlike other Linux distros, RHEL is not free
  • It is very expensive. To get licensed for a Linux server will cost you 349 dollars
  • It is not for small enterprises or startup
  • You must pay a price to get any support from its community or to join its academy
  • To download the distro server, you are required to pay for a support agreement

Fedora — Best Linux Distro Server with Frequent Updates and Releases

  • Min. Processor: 2GHz dual-core processor
  • Min. RAM: 2GB of system memory
  • Min. Storage: 15GB of free hard drive space

Federo is yet another one on the list. This Linux server distro is open source and it’s based on Red Hat with bleeding-edge software. It is available in editions such as workstations for laptops or desktops and it comes with GNOME. Silverblue, IoT, CoreOS, Labs, architectures which could be 32- or 64-bit OS and Server. However, the Linux server happens to be our main target here. It shows Fedora's modularity. Just like Red Hat server, this distro server has package management using DNF software to manage dependency and network traffic.

Unlike RHEL which has LTS, the Fedora server has a short span, so it releases and updates frequently for the latest technology available in the open-source community. The administration is flexible because it uses Cockpit which is a web-based graphical interface for servers. The tool is easy-to-use and quickly integrated. It will guide new Linux users, those who are already familiar, and as well experts on how to manage the servers.

Pros & Cons of Fedora


  • It is frequently updated and shows new releases
  • It has a DNF to help manage dependency and control network bandwidth
  • It has several editions, so choices can easily be made
  • Because Fedora has a short span, current technologies are often available to the supported community.
  • Modularity is a bigger strength. It helps keep the needed older application stack, while you still upgrade to a newer one.


  • It is not a standalone distros server, it answers to Red Hat
  • It has a short lifecycle
  • It is not beginner friendly
  • Since Fedora has a short span, it is always on the lookout for the latest release.

CentOS — Best Free Linux Distro for Servers

  • Min. Processor: 2GHz
  • Min. RAM: 2GB system memory
  • Min. Storage: 20GB of free hard drive space

Like Ubuntu, CentOS is one of the popular Linux distribution servers with a huge number of deployments. The developers have created different mirrors to it irrespective of the device use and where you can use the distros. It is enterprise-focused just like Red Hat and has an updated detail till June 2024, thus, it is quite the favorite among server administrators. Also, it is LTS because the developer doesn’t mind the frequency of releases instead, they prefer stability.

The CentOS project is community-driven. The goal is to present a platform rich enough for the open-source community to build on that which will be completely free. It is like the free version of Red Hat because its supported distribution is provided freely by Red Hat. Though, there is a shift in the new version 8 as Red Hat has been acquired by IBM. So, it’s longer backing the distro server.

This doesn’t mean the distro has become unstable. But the narrative has changed among users because the CentOS stream converted has no RHEL requirement to work well on servers. Also, no free tutorials, simple guidelines videos, and courses of benefit.

Pros & Cons of CentOS


  • Stability is the core focus of the developers of CentOS
  • It is entirely free to use on your server
  • The distro has support for tools like cockpit and GNOME
  • It is a community-driven distro for servers; hence, it is suitable for mini devices.
  • Just like Red Hat, it is enterprise-focused but not commercialized


  • Because of its LTS, it does not release security updates frequently
  • The latest version does not seem to suit the user’s interest
  • The current version 8 is not supported by RHEL
  • The CentOS stream converted lacks some benefits that server administrators need

OpenSUSE — Best Linux Distro Server with Two Releases

  • Min. Processor: 1.6GHz Pentium 4 processor
  • Min. RAM: 1GB system memory
  • Min. Storage: 10GB of free hard drive space

Compared to other Linux distributions OpenSUSE comes in two versions and gives flexibility to both experts and beginners. Targeted on desktop, server, and more. Therefore, it is developer and server administrators-friendly. Since what we look for here is its likeness with servers, the two versions, Tumbleweed and Leap will come to play. Tumbleweed is factory based with an OpenSUSE codebase.

Its update comes up once factory bleeding edge software has been integrated, stabilized, and tested. So, it always has the latest up-to-date application needed daily. Developers who need the latest software stacks and IDEs will appreciate this. However, when it comes to server administration, Leap is recommended because what you need is more stability than frequent releases. Don’t get me wrong, releases are good, but if it can’t give you access to all modules in a repository what do you need it for? OpenSUSE’s Leap is very stable and does not update often but it will surely allow you full access to all the modules in OpenSUSE’s repository.

One of the unique attributes of this distro to servers is its community open-source tools developed by the community. They have built one of the best installation tools like YaST which has an easy-to-use interface and solid configuration capacity, OBS, openQA, and Kiwi.

Pros & Cons of OpenSUSE


  • It is beginner friendly
  • There are two versions of OpenSUSE
  • It has one of the best configuration tools
  • It gives you chance to make your choice considering your need
  • Great community of developers


  • OpenSUSE Leap is not suitable for software developer
  • Its Leap version does not have the newest features
  • OpenSUSE leap does not update on the factory codebase
  • Tumbleweed has no access to all the modules in a SUSE repository
  • Tumbleweed is not as stable as OpenSUSE

Rocky Linux — Best Alternative of CentOS Linux Distro for Servers

  • Min. Processor: 1.1GHz processor
  • Min. RAM: 1.5GB system memory
  • Min. Storage: 15GB of free hard drive space

Rocky Linux came to live in 2020 amid the discontinuity of Red Hat from CentOS. The first release from its repository was in April 2021. If you are a user of CentOS and still desire to use the distro, Rocky Linux is the best alternative. The setup is like how CentOS was before it was changed. Knowing it rebuilds its source from RHEL, it has a powerful community, stable distro, and release cycle, all similar to CentOS. Since we are dealing with servers, it has an amazing distribution you can use to set up your server in wherever space you choose, either in a cloud space, your office, or your residence.

Talking about the cloud environment, Rocky Linux is also one good distro to set up a server within a cloud environment. What will interest you is that this distro community is supported by Red Hat, as such, it is downstream built. Red Hat distro is not free but highly stable and reliable. Therefore, to get what it offers for free calls for a distro that is Red Hat Enterprise supported. Rocky Linux is a perfect choice currently.

It is an open-source enterprise OS built to be 100% bug-for-bug RHEL compatible. It is rock solid regardless of the use case. The current release is v9.1 and it is available for x86-64, aarch64, ppc64le, and s390x architectures. Whatever works on RHEL will work here too.

Pros & Cons of Rocky Linux


  • Rocky Linux is enterprise-ready
  • It is a rebranded version of the CentOS
  • Since it is Red Hat compatible, it is very stable.
  • It has a 10-year lifecycle and provides easy migration from other distros for free
  • It has an excellent distribution that will enable you to set up a server within the cloud.


  • Users still doubt Rocky Linux's capability because it is still considered new
  • Even with a guided migration script, some users still find it difficult to migrate to other distros.

Slackware — Best Linux Distro Server for Experts

  • Min. Processor: 486 processor
  • Min. RAM: 64MB system memory
  • Min. Storage: 5GB of free hard drive space

Slackware just like Debian has been in existence for quite a long period. Its first release was in 1993. It is an open-source distro just like many others. Although not easily updated, it is one of the most lightweight distros suitable for any server. Slackware installation is easy, it can run from a CD or DVD or USB flash stick, or PXE server/network card. And does not require an extremely powerful system to run.

Even at this, the main goal of its developers is to provide an easy-to-use, simple, and stable distribution that can run on both old and new operating systems. Though this distribution is not beginner friendly, it is built to serve in any system capacity, be it desktop, workstation, FTP, web, general servers, email server, the list goes on. This is because the developer is determined to produce a Linux distro that is UNIX-like.

The distro is on this list because it is UNIX-like, which makes it to perfectly multitask. Additionally, you can get it in both 32- and 64-bit and it’s based on the 4.4 Linux kernel. As such, it will go on any server you deem fit to use it on.

Pros & Cons of Slackware


  • It is available in both 32-and 64-bit
  • Slackware can be run on both public and private servers
  • Installation is very easy
  • It does not require an extremely powerful system to run


  • It is not beginner friendly
  • There is limited support
  • The latest updates are not on a regular interval

Oracle Linux — Best Linux Distro Server for Both Small- and Large-Scale Enterprise

  • Min. Processor: 1GHz processor
  • Min. RAM: 1GB system memory
  • Min. Storage: 1GB of free hard drive space

Oracle Linux is well known to have stable cloud infrastructure, and as well run on any server. It is completely free to use and download. However, just like Red Hat Enterprise Linux, it is also commercialized, hence, it is suitable for small- and large-scale enterprises.  The paid plan comes in tier coupled with a 30-day free trial.

It is considered an alternative to CentOS because if it can run in Red Hat, it will run in any related Red Had supported distro. Oracle Linux is the only autonomous Operating system supported across hybrid and multi-cloud interfaces. So, it will be the best choice for your server setup. It is easy to use and redistributed without any downtime.

Reliable and stable. The performance is well-optimized to handle any workload and has high security for web servers. This distro is highly recommended for long time use because of its flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Compared to RHEL, Oracle Linux premium is less pricey.

Pros & Cons of Oracle Linux


  • It is the only Linux distribution with an autonomous operating system
  • Increase performance and reliability
  • Increase efficiency and reduce complexity
  • Due to its cloud infrastructure, server risk is reduced


  • Its open source does not give access to the entire repository
  • The paid plan can be a turn-off sometimes if it’s beyond one’s budget
  • It does not release security patches and updates frequently. The release is four times a year.

Arch Linux — Best Linux Distro Server with Customizable Features

  • Min. Processor: 1GHz
  • Min. RAM: 512MB system memory
  • Min. Storage 2GB of free hard drive space

Arch Linux is a good distro to be used as a server. It is super lightweight and has great documentation to guide a beginner on how to run it. Arch Linux is customizable, meaning that it gives room for modification to what you desire. It is a rolling release distro, i.e. updates are released frequently. The distro server is available on both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures. it might seem startup friendly, but with its simple slogan, it truly requires you to be at least an intermediate to avoid any complexity.

Arch Linux has a great community that increases in size daily, and with that, the community repository packages grow as well. Since this distro is independently developed, it is powerful and easy to manage, thereby making it an ideal distro for servers and desktops. The update is based on the command line, and your system Arch system will be kept up to date and on the bleeding edge

Pros & Cons of  Arch Linux


  • Rolling release
  • It is flexible and lightweight
  • It has a great community
  • It allows customization and modification


  • GUI configurations are not provided
  • Switching of OS from Arch Linux to another Linux distro is can be quite complex
  • Its community is not that large compared to distro like Ubuntu


Q .What Linux Distro is Best for Servers?

The above describes the list of Linux distros that are best for servers. Note that it is not an exhaustive list as several types of distribution work well. But when it comes to servers, they are quite limited. The ones outlined in this article have been tested and run for their stability, performance, and compatibility with both general and private servers. So, if you wish to use any distro for your server or use any distro server, anyone here will do just fine.

Q. Why are Linux Distros Used for Servers?

Linux distros are best chosen for servers because they have a lot of benefits attached. Foremost, they are open source which makes them free to use and download. They are suitable for both old and new operating systems. If you think your old desktop is no longer useful, install a Linux OS on it and it will surely power a server. It has a community of developers to help with every activity. The distros are majorly stable which often makes them perfect to run on a server. Security and easy update are other reasons why Linux distros are best for servers.

Q. Which Linux Distro is Best for All Types of Servers?

Although Linux distros are more powerful than each other, there is no specific one that is a jack of all trades. One distro can have multiple performances, for instance being a multi-cloud base. But it can’t foresee or be compatible with all servers. Most of the distros are specific and likely to exhibit a high workload for certain servers depending on what it is used for. Some distros are best for programming, while some are best for gaming, and graphics among other things. However, this doesn’t mean it cannot do other things but the working strength will be high in the area it is best developed for.


In the above, we have listed and described ten different Linux Distros for Servers. However, this doesn’t mean it’s the exhaustive list or the only option available. Knowing Linux, there is always an alternative.

As such, judging by several criteria, there are up to a thousand distros but when it comes to servers, you have to be meticulous in your choice. Therefore, in this article, these distros have been outlined by usability, users’ preferences and reviews, popularity as well as suitable attributes a good Linux server should have. So, if you’re wondering what distros will go for your server, do give any of these a try. It will surely be worth your time.

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