As you should probably know, Linux powers the majority of the web we see today. This is mainly because Linux systems are inherently more secure and stable than other systems. There are several types of Linux distributions for powering servers. Some notable ones include Ubuntu, Red Hat, Debian, and CentOS. Ubuntu, in particular, has been enjoying a surge in popularity as a server distro in recent times. In this guide, our editors have outlined why the Linux Ubuntu server is outgrowing many of its competitions. Stay with us throughout this guide to learn why Ubuntu shines as a server distro.
Learn More About Ubuntu Server & How to Use It
We have divided this entire guide into three parts. The first portion discusses the various things to know about Ubuntu as a server distro. In contrast, the second part shows users how to install and configure a working server using it, and the last part discusses what to do after installing Ubuntu server. Continue reading the following sections to learn some important information about the server.
Frequently Asked Question – FAQ
This section discusses some of the most asked queries regarding the Ubuntu server. As a Linux system administrator, you must know all these aspects, which ultimately helps you to deploy, configure, and use a Ubuntu Server successfully.
1. What is the Ubuntu Server?
It is an operating system developed by Canonical and a large number of open source developers across the world. It is meant to power modern-day servers that serve static and dynamic web pages, applications, files, containers, and many more. The ability to run this on a wide range of platforms and architecture make this a suitable choice for enterprises as well as hobbyists.
Moreover, Ubuntu boasts a stable and continuously growing ecosystem, which makes it easy to install and manage demanding applications. Although the core system is free to use, Canonical provides excellent support for enterprises via its modest subscription plans. No matter what type of platform you want to develop, Ubuntu will get you covered. It works extremely well with clouds and thus is a viable solution for cloud service providers.
2. Difference Between Ubuntu Server and Desktop?
When talking about desktops, we refer to personal computers that we use for everyday tasks like productivity, gaming, and office works. These systems are equipped with peripheral devices such as a keyboard, mouse, and modems for obvious reasons. They are also powered by reasonable hardware resources. We usually use Linux desktop environments on these devices. The Ubuntu desktop is arguably among the best Linux distributions for such systems.
Servers, on the other hand, are much beefier in terms of CPU resources. This is because they are designed to be more powerful, stable, and secure for long term usage. Since they are often managed remotely, most servers do not include common peripheral devices. This is known as a headless setup, obtaining the jargon from the omission of I/O devices. Traditionally, servers come in two form factors, either rackmount or tower.
3. Which Architectures are Supported by Ubuntu?
As we have said already, Ubuntu supports a wide range of hardware platforms or architecture for its server OS. The most commonly used platform is AMD64 or x86-64 architecture. This is the traditional 64-bit machines that power our personal computers. It also supports the older x86 or 32-bit platforms. So, you can also turn any older computer into a personal server.
Now, apart from these common ones, you can also run the server OS into mainframes and embedded systems. Ubuntu supports the IBM Z mainframes, IBM POWER pcs, and ARM-based server systems in this regard. This means you can not only fire up a server onto a legacy machine but will also be able to turn your Raspberry Pi into a mini server. It allows users to build exciting IoT projects using low-cost components. Go to this link to download the server image for your Raspberry Pi.
4. What Can I Run Using Ubuntu Server?
Developers can use this server OS for powering a large number of services as well as infrastructure. The most common use cases include website hosting, FTP servers, Linux email servers, print servers, database servers, media servers, container services, cloud services, and development platforms. These are only the most typical scenarios where someone might use Ubuntu. Of course, you can always get extra creative and develop something more useful.
5. How Popular is the Ubuntu Server?
Ubuntu has been gaining steady popularity as a server distribution for some time now. Many corporations are switching to Ubuntu from other server distros due to its solid ecosystem and reliable support. Among the 37% of global websites powered by various Linux distributions, Ubuntu accounts for a whopping 45% share. At the same time, competitors like the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) has only a mere 2% share. Debian and CentOS, each has around 18% share in this regard.
So, it is pretty evident that Ubuntu is as popular as a server distribution as it is with desktops. Some of the factors that account for its continuously growing popularity are a proven ecosystem, friendly community, eas of use, and enterprise support. This is why even direct competitors like Microsoft are using Ubuntu for powering their Azure cloud services. The number of Ubuntu-powered services in the Amazon cloud is also twice that of all other os combined.
6. What Are the System Requirements for Ubuntu?
One key benefit of Ubuntu is that it does not require extremely high-end CPU resources. Although you would probably want to make your server hardware as beefy as possible, Ubuntu doesn’t force users to do this. It means you can easily build a personal or home server system using older hardware or by buying only some modest resources. The minimum system requirements for a simple server setup is given below.
1 GHz CPU
512 MB of RAMs
1 GB of Disk Storage(1.75 for all features)
Canonical recommends the following requirements for a server.
1 GHz or better CPU frequency
1 gigabyte or more RAMs
Minimum 2.5 gigabytes of Disk Storage
7. Are Ubuntu Servers Stable?
Stability is a big concern when it comes to enterprise servers. Luckily, Ubuntu fares very well in this regard. The Ubuntu LTS or (Long Term Support) versions are supported for 5 years. This ensures that your server will receive all the necessary security patches as well as software updates. It helps reducing system vulnerabilities and allows admins to harden their system against malicious users. Check out our guide on essential Linux hardening tips to secure your server.
Although many admins argue that Debian systems are inherently more stable than Ubuntu, their argument is not so strong. After all, Ubuntu itself is based on Debian. Moreover, Canonical is taking stability issues more seriously than ever and are working quite hard to maintain Ubuntu’s status as a reliable server distro.
8. How Good is the Enterprise Support for Ubuntu?
The availability of solid enterprise support is a big deal for businesses. Ubuntu does a pretty great job in this regard. Although the server distro is free and open-source, Canonical provides lucrative subscription plans for corporations that want to use Ubuntu as their server OS. The support plans include 24/7 security fixes, administration support, and help with OpenStack, Kubernetes, and Docker. Below is a summarized list of support plans.
Ubuntu Advantage for Virtual Machines – from $75 per year
Ubuntu Advantage for Enterprise Servers – from $225 per year
Ubuntu Advantage for Desktops – from $25 per year
Please check out the pricing plans on the Ubuntu website to get a detailed quotation on managed cloud services, storage, and infrastructure support. Overall, Ubuntu performs way better than its competitors in terms of paid support thanks to its robust pricing plans and quality assurance.
9. How Good is the Ubuntu Documentation?
Good documentation is really crucial when you are looking for a server distribution. Luckily, Ubuntu also does a damn good job in this aspect. You can relax knowing that whatever problem you may face in your server, the official tutorials and guides will help you overcome that. This is especially important for developers and system admins since, without proper documentation, they’d need to solve complex problems all by themselves.
The Ubuntu website provides all sorts of installation guides and configuration tutorials for the Linux Ubuntu server alongside supplementary utilities. The official server documentation is a good place to start if you are a server admin or developer. If you get stuck with some undocumented problems, you can always consult the various Ubuntu forums and IRC channels. We also cover a lot of fundamental knowledge that would be interesting.
10. How Supporting is the Ubuntu Community
An engaging community is a must for any open-source software. Thankfully, Ubuntu boasts one of the largest communities of developers and FOSS enthusiasts one can imagine. This is a great thing for a lot of reasons. For once, you can easily get essential advice and feedback on your server. No matter how complex a problem seems, the thriving community will always make sure that it gets solved in the least possible time.
The Ask Ubuntu forum is one of my go-to destinations whenever I tackle a new kind of problems. A large number of veteran Ubuntu users work tirelessly for solving seemingly unsolvable problems. You can even find active Ubuntu developers on this forum. The Ubuntu IRC channel is another great place to strike a conversation with your fellow developers and admins.
11. Is Ubuntu Server Totally Free of Cost?
Yes, all variations of the Ubuntu system is totally free of any cost, both the server and the desktop. No matter whether you are an enterprise or a mere hobbyist, you only pay if you want to get professional support or managed enterprise solutions. The bare metal system is free all the time for anyone. This FOSS philosophy is one of the key reasons behind Ubuntu’s ever-growing popularity.
Moreover, the entire source code of the server is available freely. This allows enterprises to modify the system from scratch based on company requirements. However, you should not mess around with the source unless you are a professional developer who knows exactly what he’s up for. Nevertheless, the availability of the codebase is a big plus for a lot of reasons.