I am an aspiring IT Tech and I am leaning more towards systems administration. While I mostly work with Windows-based environments, I want to start delving into Linux and the many distros out there.

I am looking for a stable environment that is more suited towards business server management. I would like to start small and work my way up from there. What do you recommend I start with?

My research

I have been looking into CentOS and I am impressed with what I have seen so far. Although, I wanted to see if anyone had recommendations on what else I should look into.

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    "stable environment that is more suited towards business server management" points either to (pure) Debian, or (on the RPM side) CentOS/Redhat or SuSE (SLES would be the enterprise variant, OpenSuSE the community oriented). To not have this ending up in a list question, could you please edit your post and give some more specifics? Much depends on what you plan to run on top. For example, Oracle RDBMS would rather suggest the RPM line (official support for Redhat/SLES from Oracle's end). – Izzy Mar 17 '17 at 18:45
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    Without any more specifics, this question is a bit broad for a Q&A site (a better fit for a chat room or forum). At SR, we want specific requirements in the questions to give specific recommendations (see: What is required for a question to contain "enough information"?) I'll leave that for the community to decide, but please don't wonder if your question suddenly is "on hold". Don't feel discouraged – but rather encouraged to be as specific as possible :) – Izzy Mar 17 '17 at 20:50
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    @Izzy If I think of anything else, I will be sure to edit my question further. Thanks again for the help! – Cheesus Crust Mar 17 '17 at 20:51
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    Just as a pointer: CentOS is very close to RedHat, and RH a distribution often used in business – so your first choice was good. Debian has a little different philosophy, so it's worth to investigate a bit in that as well (for starters, e.g. using a "more easy derivate"; I prefer Linux Mint here). With those two, you should be well covered, as you can trace back almost all business Linuxes to one of these two (Debian and RedHat), with usually not-that-big differences :) – Izzy Mar 17 '17 at 20:56
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    OK, I've summed that up in my answer. Enjoy Linux – and depending on your choice, meet us on either AskUbuntu or Unix&Linux once you're running it and need further help :) – Izzy Mar 17 '17 at 21:09

Speaking "business", you can trace down most used Linux distris in the field two two "roots" (or "root philosophies"): Debian and RedHat. So if you learn these two, you won't feel alien on any distribution used in business context. Depending on the business performed, companies tend to the one or other – usually for reasons of support and contracts (e.g. the Oracle RDBMS is mainly supported on RedHat and SLES, but not on Debian).

For easy starters, both camps have "derivates" with bigger communities, so you can expect help with your questions. The most famous in the Debian camp certainly is Ubuntu (which also has its own SE site, AskUbuntu), which again has several flavours and derivates (I personally prefer Linux Mint on my desktop machines, which is very user friendly, while using "plain Debian" on my servers). In the RedHat camp that would be CentOS (which you already know) or OpenSuSE (as community counterpart for SuSE Enterprise Linux aka SLES).

Help on "all things Linux" which are not specifically Ubuntu also has its home on SE, with our sister site "Unix & Linux" – so you're well covered with any choice you make from the above.

As I already told you: for specific recommendations we would need much more specific requirements mentioned in your post: what you want to run on it (see the "Oracle example"), what your level of experience is, etc.


My company has been running CentOS on both our web and database tiers for some years now without any issues. Tomcat has been running on the web tier, while Oracle and MySQL databases have been running on the database tier. See https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/27323/is-centos-exactly-the-same-as-rhel to compare CentOS to Red Hat. NOTE: While Oracle will offer support for its databases on Red Hat and Oracle Enterprise Linux, it does not do so for CentOS. Nonetheless, the community support for CentOS is quite strong.

The only other option that my company used was SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server). While a stable and capable option, the system admin group found CentOS to be easier to manage.

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