Best Server Operating Systems in 2024

In this post, we’ll examine some of the best server operating systems available in 2024 based on factors like security, performance, features, and community support.

Whether you run a small business or a large enterprise, choosing the right server OS is crucial for ensuring your applications and data remain reliable, efficient, and protected. By the end, you’ll have a better idea of which server OS is the best fit for your organization’s unique needs and goals.

Best Server OS in 2024

Let’s dive in and explore the top server operating systems of 2024!

1. Windows Server: Enterprise-Grade Solutions

Windows Server, developed by Microsoft, is another leading server OS in 2024.  It is expected to become more popular because of its strong security features and the ability to modernize tasks using Azure, both online and on local servers.

Windows Server stands out as a popular choice in the server OS domain. It is renowned for its enhanced security features, robust virtualization capabilities, and seamless integration with cloud services. It has an easy-to-use design, making it accessible to a wide range of users. Windows Server is well-suited for organizations requiring a reliable and secure platform for hosting applications, managing databases, and providing network services.

Key Features of Windows Server: 

  • Container Services: Windows Server 2019 supports Kubernetes, simplifying the deployment and management of containerized applications.
  • Storage Enhancements: Windows Server includes tools like Storage Spaces Direct, Storage Migration Service, and Storage Replica to optimize storage, facilitate data migration, and ensure data redundancy and disaster recovery.
  • Enhanced Security: Windows Server focuses on security with Shielded Virtual Machines and improved Windows Defender ATP, offering advanced threat detection and protection for virtualized workloads and server environments.
  • Administration Tools: Windows Admin Center is a centralized, user-friendly tool for managing servers, virtual machines, and other resources, simplifying server administration tasks.
  • Hybrid Capabilities: Windows Server supports hybrid cloud integration, allowing seamless connection between on-premises infrastructure and cloud services for enhanced scalability and flexibility while maintaining control over critical data and applications.

2. Linux: The Open-Source Powerhouse

Linux is becoming really important for private servers and shared web hosting. It is well-known for being open-source, stable, and flexible. Popular versions like CentOS, Red Hat, and Ubuntu Server Enterprise Linux meet various server needs, providing a secure and customizable setup for hosting web servers, databases, and other important applications. Many businesses and organizations prefer Linux because of its strong security and comprehensive support for programming languages.

Linux has become the leading server OS, with the most significant market share. In 2019, Linux servers made up 13.6% of servers worldwide. By 2027, the global Linux market is expected to grow to $15.64 billion.

CloudLinux and AlmaLinux are also emerging as popular choices in the server operating system market. They offer enhanced security features and robust performance capabilities for hosting critical applications in cloud environments.

Key Features of Linux

  • Security: Linux is built with solid security features to keep data safe, support various authentication methods, and allow anyone to spot and fix security issues.
  • Reliability: Linux is highly reliable, ensuring servers run smoothly without crashes or downtime, making it perfect for essential tasks.
  • Customization: Linux can be tailored to specific needs, with many applications and tools available for tasks like web hosting or database management.
  • Scalability: Linux servers can handle growing traffic and data thanks to features like load balancing and virtualization, adapting quickly to changing demands.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Linux is free to use and comes with a wide range of free applications.

3. UNIX: Reliable and Scalable

UNIX is an extensively used operating system across computing mobile devices, including desktop operating systems, netbooks, and server systems. Due to its multitasking and multi-user capabilities, UNIX and other segments are expected to demonstrate significant growth during the forecast period.

UNIX-based server operating systems, such as IBM AIX and Oracle Solaris, are known for their reliability, scalability, and security features. These systems are often used in mission-critical applications and enterprise environments.

Key Features of UNIX

  • Multiuser System: UNIX simultaneously supports multiple users and tasks, promoting collaboration and efficient resource usage.
  • The Building-Block Approach: Its building-block approach allows users to combine small commands for powerful data manipulation and processing, enhancing flexibility.
  • Programming Facility: With a robust shell programming language, UNIX enables users to automate tasks effectively and manage system functions.
  • Documentation and Support: Extensive documentation and community support enhance the user experience, aiding in issue resolution and troubleshooting.

4. macOS Server: Secure and Versatile

While macOS may not dominate the server market to the extent of Windows and Linux, it still holds a notable position among server operating systems. A considerable percentage of professional developers opt for macOS, showcasing its appeal within specific user groups.

 Although macOS may not have the same market share as Windows or Linux in the server domain, its user-friendly interface and integration with Apple’s ecosystem make it a preferred choice for certain server applications.

Key Features of macOS Server

  • Shared calendars and contacts: macOS Server includes iCal Server and Address Book Server, which allow users to share calendars and contacts across a workgroup or company.
  • Integrated email hosting: The built-in Mail Server in macOS Server provides email hosting and management for organizations, with support for webmail access and mobile device syncing.
  • Profile Manager: This feature allows IT administrators to easily configure and manage Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV devices, including enforcing security policies and distributing apps.
  • Open Directory: The macOS Server has something called Open Directory. It’s like a digital phonebook that helps the server and its users log in securely and access different services.
  • VPN Server: The macOS Server includes a built-in VPN server that allows remote users to securely connect to the local network. It supports L2TP over IPSec and PPTP protocols.

5. Debian: A Robust and Dependable 

Debian is a popular server operating system because it is reliable and secure, making it a favourite for system administrators and businesses needing a stable platform for essential applications. It has an extensive collection of software and strong community support, ensuring access to well-tested and reliable programs. 

Although Debian’s slow update cycle might be a downside for those wanting the latest features, its focus on stability and security makes it an excellent choice for essential server operations.

Key Features of Debian

  • Debian Social Contract and Free Software Guidelines: Debian pledges to remain 100% free software, outlined in its Social Contract, with clear guidelines called the Debian Free Software Guidelines.
  • APT Package Management: Debian introduced APT in 1997, simplifying software installation, upgrades, and removals, contributing to its user-friendly reputation.
  • Stable Release Cycle: Debian follows a stable release cycle, ensuring updates are thoroughly tested to prevent system breakage, a significant benefit of the distribution.
  • Multi-Architecture Support: Since Debian 7.0, it supports multiple architectures, including 32-bit, 64-bit, and more hardware platforms.
  • Secure Boot Support: Debian 9.0 introduced Secure Boot and improved UEFI compatibility, enhancing security features and hardware compatibility.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the best server operating system for 2024 hinges on careful consideration of factors like security, system administration, compatibility, and specific workload requirements.

While Windows Server offers seamless integration and Linux distributions like Ubuntu Server and Debian provide flexibility and community support, the optimal choice depends on aligning the OS features with the organization’s unique needs and infrastructure, ensuring a reliable and efficient server environment for the year ahead.

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Ashwin S

A cybersecurity enthusiast at heart with a passion for all things tech. Yet his creativity extends beyond the world of cybersecurity. With an innate love for design, he's always on the lookout for unique design concepts.