Linux WordPress Hosting

What is an operating system (OS)?

In simplest terms, an operating system is the base software that runs a computer. For example, a PC uses the Windows OS, Mac computer uses the Mac OSX etc. If you have a smartphone, it will have an operating system of its own. Android phones use the Linux OS and IPhones use the IOS operating systems.

Linux is actually what you would call a family of operating systems. In this a small code takes care of the inputs and outputs of application and machine layers of the computer using it. In addition to this there are many other features that make it a big, full-fledged OS. Namely the device drivers, file systems, compilers, GUIs etc.

Why Linux?

Linux is a very popular, free and open source operating system. Hence, it is not surprising that it is the operating system largely used by most web hosting providers by default. It is an enterprise level software used by supercomputers, embedded devices, smartphones, mainframes etc. Its speed, versatility and the options of packages available are just the main benefits.

It’s so popular that even Google uses it for many of its services. Linux is available in free and premium versions for its users. Its commercially oriented users can take advantage of its commercial version.

Linux is ‘free’ literally means it is available to the user without any cost, and also without any restrictions. That means the user can use Linux however and for whatever purpose they want.

Its open source nature means that the Linux source code is available to all users for general study as well as making modifications or improvements. The Windows Server is Linux’s biggest and can be easily called ‘one serious’ competitor.

More Benefits of Using Linux

When we go deeper into the advantages of choosing Linux as an operating system, we find that Linux is:

  • Very scalable
  • Powerful
  • Free for most versions
  • Highly customizable
  • Available with large support from users
  • Doesn’t allow the user to mess it up too much
  • Compatible with old servers

Other benefits for users when they choose Linux over other operating systems:

  • Security
  • Low costs for hosting providers and indirectly for the users
  • Very straightforward to use
  • Extremely flexible – This makes it a great choice for web hosting companies as they need this quality in an operating system to adapt it to different environments.
  • Easier to use with older and slower machines
    Many robust management tools for Linux make it super easy to administer

Origins of Linux

Linux was originally developed from UNIX in the 1990’s. After the initial development there have been a lot of changes, additions and improvements made in the many future versions that came about. The user community supporting Linux has contributed greatly to its success.

RedHat Linux, CentOS, Fedora, Ubuntu etc. are the free versions of Linux available. Any of these Linux versions could be the one provided by the user’s web hosting provider. However, it will hardly make any difference to the user what version they are using.

Also Linux being highly customizable, companies using it generally make changes and customize it to suit their needs. Almost like creating your own personal operating system. Biggest example of this is the Google Chrome OS.

LAMP Standard

Linux uses the LAMP standard configuration i.e.: Linux OS, Apache web server, MySQL database, PHP scripting language. Many tutorials are available on the internet guiding a beginner about running a website using this standard.

Comparison With Windows

Applications like WordPress can be used on Linux as well as Windows. However, the technical support available for Windows is not that great. This is something a lot of users depend on. Hence, Linux ends up being the better option. On the flip side, Windows supports web languages like ASP.NET, .NET and many more. Linux falls back in that. Hence, it’s not always the better option and users need to consider which OS suits them better before choosing one.

Bottom line being that Linux is the default and best choice for web hosting. However, if you have any specific requirements like execution of ASP.NET code instead of Ruby or Python which is open source, you might have to look for alternatives.

User experience of Linux as a desktop operating system will be quite different from that of using it as a web server. Users might find this a very difficult or inconvenient option. As a result Linux is used as a desktop operating system less than 2% of the times but, powers a huge majority of the web servers.

Many users have the notion that they will need to use the Windows operating system for their Windows personal computers. This is however far from the truth. The user can easily connect to a Linux server using SSH and FTP.

The only place there could be issues is if the user is trying to use the command line interface in the DOS prompt to access their hosting server. Most users however rarely carry out this task. Even if they have to, there are loads of online resources available to help them out.

Demand For Linux Programmers

As many tech companies nowadays use Linux as their primary operating system, the demand for Linux programmers/engineers has greatly increased. Engineers certified by the RedHat Certified Engineer program, Linux Professional Institute and other similar certifications are in high demand.

It is generally believed that technicians that aspire to make a career in the web hosting industry need to have significant expertise in Linux.

Linux Hosting Providers

As we know there are many companies that provide Linux web hosting. They each have their pros and cons that need to be carefully considered while making a choice. They most commonly recommended provider is BlueHost, InMotion, and GoDaddy.

Linux Frequently Asked Questions

What is an operating system?
An operating system is the very basic software that runs on a computer. A Mac computer uses the Mac OSX, a PC uses the Windows OS, Android phones use the Linux OS and so on. These are all operating systems for their respective devices.

What is Linux?
Linux is can be called a ‘family of operating systems’. It is free and open sourced. It has a small code that takes care of the inputs and outputs of the application and machine layers of the computer using it. It is currently the most popular operating system used by most web hosting providers by default.

What do you mean when you say ‘Linux is free and Open Source’?
When we say ‘free and open source’ it means that Linux is available at no cost and without any restriction. The source code of Linux is developed in the open by its user community. It is hence transparent and available for study and modification by any user.

What are the different versions/distributions of Linux?
There are many different distributions of Linux currently available. The most popular ones are CentOS, Debian, Red Hat, Ubuntu and Fedora.

What is a family of operating systems?
The most basic part of Linux is the ‘kernel’ or the core of the operating system. It is a very important piece of code that deals with the input and output between the application and machine layer of the computer. Other than this there are many other features that go into the making of a whole operating system. These include the language compilers, device drivers, file systems, GUI etc. The different distributions of Linux each provide a different set of these core operating system features. Hence, Linux is called a family of operating systems.

Why is Linux popular for web servers?
Most important reason for Linux’s popularity is the cost. It is available for free. Secondly, it is flexible and hence highly customizable. This makes it a great fit for web hosting companies because they need to customize and create special environments for different hosting plans to work properly. Last but not the least, a Linux server does not need to be powered down regularly. Another reason that makes it an ideal OS for servers.

Does a Windows PC require a Windows server for web hosting?
No, that is not required at all. Many Windows PC users prefer using Linux web servers. It is quite simple to connect to a Linux web server via SSH or FTP from a Windows PC. Also, the host can be accessed through a control panel on the Windows PC very easily. Issues in such situations occur very rarely, generally if you try to access your hosting server using a command line interface after connecting via SSH. This is mainly because the commands for Linux are a little different from those for Windows. However, most Windows users don’t prefer using the DOS prompt that much anyway.

What are the alternatives to using Linux and why would you consider using them?
Windows is Linux’s strongest competitor. The main reason why you would consider using Windows instead of Linux is if you need to use the .NET or ASP development platforms for your project. These are Microsoft software and require Windows instead of Linux.

What is better for web hosting, Windows or Linux?
Linux is the ideal choice for web hosting.

Is the experience of using Linux for a server same as using it as a desktop operating system?
The experience of using Linux as a server is very different from using it as a desktop operating system. Most of the times the users do not interact with the host’s operating system at all. Also most of the hosting account management is done through a control panel and through FTP/SSH. These are mainly the reasons why Linux is used for majority of the web servers in the world but only around 1% of the desktop computers.

Does the Linux distribution on my hosting plan make a difference?
Most of important things done on a web hosting server like run Apache, build databases, deploy PHP applications all work in similar ways on all Linux distributions used by web hosting companies. Usually the only difference in Linux distributions is the GUI on a desktop. This GUI however is never seen in web hosting as the users always interact with the server remotely via a control panel or FTP/SSH.

Linux Resources For Beginners