10 Best Linux Server Distributions of 2018

Linux is free and open source, this has emanated into low total cost of ownership of a Linux system, compared to other operating systems. Although Linux operating systems (distributions) are not entirely doing well on desktop computers, they are commanding the stats when it comes to powering servers, mainframe computers as well as supercomputers in data centers around the world.

There are several factors attributed to this: the first and most important that you might have thought of, is the general freedom associated with it, stability and security among others.

Read Also: 5 Most Promising New Linux Distributions to Look Forward

In this article, we will list the top 10 Linux server distributions of 2018 based on the following considerations: data center capabilities and reliability in relation to supported functionalities and hardware, ease of installation and use, cost of ownership in terms of licensing and maintenance, and accessibility of commercial support.

1. Ubuntu

Top on the list is Ubuntu, an open source Debian-based Linux operating system, developed by Canonical. It is without doubt, the most popular Linux distribution out there, and many other distributions have been derived from it. Ubuntu server is efficient for building top-performance, highly scalable, flexible and secure enterprise data centers.

Ubuntu Distribution

Ubuntu Distribution

It offers remarkable support for big data, visualization and containers, IoT (Internet Of Things); you can use it from most if not all common public clouds. Ubuntu server can run on x86, ARM and Power architectures.

With the Ubuntu Advantage, you can get commercial support and services such as systems management tool for security audit, compliance, and the Canonical livepatch service, that helps you to apply kernel fixes and many more. This is coupled with support from a robust and growing community of developers and users.

Read Also: Livepatch – Apply Security Patches to Ubuntu Kernel Without Rebooting

2. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)

Second on the log is Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), an open source Linux distribution developed by Red Hat, for commercial use. It is based on Fedora, which is a community-driven project: great deal of software that is available on RHEL is first developed and tested on Fedora.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Red Hat Enterprise Linux

RHEL server is a powerful, stable and secure software for powering modern data centers with software-oriented storage. It has amazing support for cloud, IoT, big data, visualization and containers.

RHEL server supports x86, x86-64, Itanium, PowerPC and IBM System z machines. The Red Hat subscription enables you to get the latest enterprise-ready software, trusted knowledge, product security, and technical support from engineers.

3. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is an open source, stable and secure server platform built by SUSE. It is developed to power physical, virtual and cloud-based servers. It is well suited for cloud solutions with support for visualization and containers.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server

It runs on the modern hardware environments for ARM System on Chip, Intel, AMD, SAP HANA, z Systems and NVM Express over Fabrics. Users can get technical support and services under various categories including priority support, dedicated engineer among others, with SUSE Subscription.

4. CentOS (Community OS) Linux Server

CentOS is a stable and open source derivative of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). It is a all-round community-supported distribution and is therefore operationally compatible with RHEL. If you want a use of RHEL without paying a considerable amount of money via subscription, then you have to use CentOS.

CentOS Linux

CentOS Linux

Since it is free software, you can get support from other community members, users and online resources as well.

5. Debian

Debian is a free, open source and stable Linux distribution maintained by its users. It ships in with over 51000 packages and uses a powerful packaging system. It is being used by educational institutions, business companies, non-profit and government organizations.

Debian Linux

Debian Linux

It generally supports a larger number of computer architectures including 64-bit PC (amd64), 32-bit PC (i386), IBM System z, 64-bit ARM (Aarch64), POWER Processors and many more.

It has a bug tracking system and you can get support for Debian by reading through its documentation and free web resources.

6. Oracle Linux

Oracle Linux is a free and open source Linux distribution packaged and distributed by Oracle, intended for open cloud. It’s remarkably engineered for small, medium to large enterprise, cloud-enabled data centers. It offers tools for building scalable and reliable big data systems and virtual environments.

Oracle Linux

Oracle Linux

It runs on all x86-based Oracle engineered systems and the Oracle Linux Support program enables you to get top-rated support with premier backports, extensive management, cluster applications, indemnification, testing tools and plus so much more, at a reasonably lower cost.

7. Mageia

Mageia (a fork of Mandriva) is a free, stable, secure Linux operating system that is developed by a community. It provides an enormous repository of software including integrated system configuration tools. Importantly, it was the first Linux distribution to replace Oracle’s MySQL with MariaDB.

Mageia Linux

Mageia Linux

In case you need any support, you can contact the Mageia community which is made up of users, makers and advocates.

8. ClearOS

ClearOS is an open source Linux distribution derived from RHEL/CentOS, built by ClearFoundation and marketed by ClearCenter. It is a commercial distribution intended for small and medium enterprises as a network gateway and network server, with an easy-to-use web-based administration interface.

ClearOS Linux

ClearOS Linux

It is a smart, fully-featured server software which is highly flexible and customizable. You receive premium support at an affordable cost and get additional software from the application marketplace.

9. Arch Linux

Arch Linux is also a free and open source, simple, lightweight yet secure Linux distribution. It is flexible and stable; provides the latest stable versions of most software by following a rolling-release pattern and uses both official package and community-supported package repositories.

Arch Linux

Arch Linux

Arch Linux is a general-purpose distribution that is optimized for the i686 and x86-64 architectures. However, because of decreasing popularity among the developers and other community members, support for i686 has now been dropped.

It has a formal bug tracking facility and you can get supports from a thriving community and other online resources.

10. Slackware Linux

Last on the list is Slackware, a free and open source, powerful Linux distribution that strives to be most “Unix-like” in design simplicity and stability as well. It was created by Patrick Volkerding in 1993 and is best suited for Linux users who aim at technical proficiency.

Slackware Linux

Slackware Linux

It doesn’t offer a graphical installation method, has no auto-dependency resolution of software packages. Additionally, Slackware uses plain text files and a number of shell scripts for configuration and administration. And has no formal bug tracking service or public code repository.

It has a wide range of development tools, editors, and current libraries for users who want to develop or compile supplementary software on their servers. It can run on Pentium systems and latest x86 and x86_64 machines.

Slackware has no official support term policy, however, you can find help from comprehensive online documentation and other related resources.

Read Also: 10 Linux Distributions and Their Targeted Users

That’s it! In this article, we have listed the top 10 Linux server distributions of 2018. Which distribution are you or your company using to power servers out there? Let us know via the comment section below.

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Aaron Kili

Aaron Kili is a Linux and F.O.S.S enthusiast, an upcoming Linux SysAdmin, web developer, and currently a content creator for TecMint who loves working with computers and strongly believes in sharing knowledge.

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21 Responses

  1. Jade Bryan says:

    Most of these arent server editions. Yes, they could be used as servers but no one in their right mind in an enterprise environment would actually use them as servers. There are more server editions out there but not mentioned. I think the author of this was just lazy.

  2. H4k3r says:

    So, I read the article referenced on serverwatch.com. No where does it reference where it got it’s “facts” or “statistics” so I’m not certain why you are arguing the legitimacy of the list at all.

    At any rate, I work for a large MSP that uses RHEL strictly for it managed Linux offering, but offers CentOS for it’s self-serve option in addition to RHEL. In addition to that, most Linux jobs available in my area look for Red Hat experience over any other Linux.

    While I’m sure that there are a lot of Ubuntu Server based systems in the wild, I’m willing to bet there is more RedHat based code in the wild than DebUntu based code, on the server level.

    This of course, discounts Ubuntu based Docker projects. I’d be willing to bed Ubuntu code is the base of a majority of Docker based infrastructure (if not Alpine Linux).

    • Aaron Kili says:


      According to the same referenced article, the research was actually done by serverwatch.com, however, though we do not know the details of it all. But basing on the fact that they watch server usage out there, we can bank on the list they provided.

      Many thanks for the feedback, and for sharing this useful information.

  3. Rances says:

    Ubuntu and Debian?, I think that those distros are not for servers and because have many problems of stability and a little monster called systemd. Slackware have a resolutions of dependencies through slpkg.

    • Aaron Kili says:


      Sure, but it is no the case out there. Debian is actually considered more stable than many other distributions out there, and Ubuntu though not considered stable, it is very efficient thus popular for powering clouds.

  4. Nathan says:

    Very superficial article. Nothing of a server traits discussed. Since many distros can also be used as server,entirely customizable as per user capabilities, the author has dished out an ordinary article.

    Even dedicated server distros like univention which seeks to tackle Microsoft AD, or a medium distro like Zentyal do not find a place. Will Tecmint people even conduct a primary review of any article published from its site?

    • Aaron Kili says:


      The dedicated server distros such as univention and Zentyal you are talking about are not so popular out there, however good you think they may be. This list was originally provided by serverwatch.com, a trusted and leading site in providing information exclusively regarding servers. They keep an eye on usage statistics and do related research about server software out there, which we at TecMint may not be capable of doing.

      In this article, we have explained the features of each Linux server distros that has emerged in the top 10; we tried to describe things that could have made each distro appear in its respective position.

      Thanks for sharing your concern, and for following us.

  5. fulgor says:

    It could be great to build an arch derivate distro with a list of packages and an installer GUI

  6. Gerard says:

    Mint is probably more popular then Ubuntu.

  7. Virneto says:

    Really dont understand Ubuntu at First place..
    My perception would put Debian and CentOs at top.

    • Aaron Kili says:


      Yes, that is according to your perception, however, what is unfolding out there is much more different. Ubuntu is at the top, in the of Linux server distributions for this year.

  8. Neeraj Prem says:

    Univention Corporate Server, could be included.

  9. Mauricio López says:

    Ubuntu in the first place of a top 10 server distros? RHEL based on Fedora? WTF am I reading!!?? What were you smoking when you wrote this? ⊙_⊙

    • Aaron Kili says:


      Yes Ubuntu in the first place of top 10 Linux server distros, this is not according to our own imaginations but proven statistics out there. You can find out more from serverwatch.com.

      And secondly, according to information posted on the RHEL website about the relationship between Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux:

      “Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship that ensures rapid innovation. Fedora benefits from the sponsorship and feedback from Red Hat. In turn, Red Hat can bring leading-edge innovation to the broader community for collaboration, enabling a rapid maturation of the technology.”

      So logically RHEL is based on innovations from Fedora, which acts as a software development and testing bed. I hope this will drive the point home.

      • Mauricio López says:

        There is no official statistics about Linux distros use, just opinions or charts based on convenience. I think RHEL based distros lead the serious server world.
        Anyway, about the base distro of RHEL, saying that is based on Fedora is like saying Debian stable is based on unstable. Ubuntu is based on Debian, but Fedora is where Red Hat tests bleeding edge software, not a base distribution.

    • shiba87 says:

      I thought exactly the same ¿^^

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