There are two types of people in the world - the first type likes to play it safe and go where the rest of the herd goes, while the second type likes to take chances and discover things for itself, thereby standing out from the herd. When applied to the context of preference of operating systems and servers, the first category of people are those who play it safe by blindly going for Windows, while the second category of people like treading the less trodden path, taking their chances with various open source software options and discovering many other viable alternative in the process.
Don't get me wrong, though! I have no grudges, whatsoever, against Windows, and I think it works just fine - otherwise it wouldn't be so popular in the first place! So what's this Linux server and Windows server contention all about? Spare a glance towards the following segment, would you?
Linux Severs and Windows Servers Comparison
Speaking about a server and OS options other than Windows and Mac, a few names that quickly come to the mind include Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, etc. Surprisingly, all the three open source alternatives that I just mentioned run on Linux kernel! Not only that, a lot of other open source operating systems and server software that are highly popular with proponents of open source software belong to this same category! Well, that does make Linux a name to reckon with in the open source arena, and justifies its status as a befitting competitor to Windows. That being said, let's take a quick look at some interesting points that form the highlights of the "Linux servers versus Windows servers" debate.
The Cost Factor
When you get a Linux server, being open sourced, the operating system is free and you need not pay any license fee. This isn't so with Windows, as you need to pay a decent sum for getting the original stuff.
Flexibility and Ease
The best thing about an open source is all the flexibility that they offer for you to make customizations and modifications to suit your individual needs. With a Linux server, you can make a lot of kernel modifications within the bat of an eyelid. However, a Windows server is not so generous or flexible a task performer. You cannot make any kernel modifications, and the most you can do to come close to fulfilling your individual requirements is to choose a version or variant from among the available Windows OS options. That being said, it only implies the greater technical expertise needed to run a Linux server. Windows, on the other hand, is more user-friendly, and even an amateur can learn how to install and manage a Windows server.
Stability and Support
The most important aspect of a Windows platform is that it is stable, making it highly user-friendly with standard instructions and guidelines on installation, management and troubleshooting available. Linux platforms, on the other hand, may get modified from time to time, as tweaks get implemented to its core architecture. Also, technical support guidelines may vary, which may confuse someone who is not an expert at these things. Also, any problem with a Windows server, and you know exactly who to contact - Microsoft. With Linux or other open source platforms, unless you're a veteran geek, you may not know the right places to look for support in case of any troubleshooting issues.
Access Control Options
With Windows, you can easily set access control mechanisms without even bothering about installing any software add-on! It's not that simple in case of Linux though.
Deciding upon patching on a Windows server is easy, as the only patches compatible with Windows are those that are issued by Microsoft! With Linux, on the other hand, you may decide to go for patches issued by other open source players, or you may decide to wait for a commercial Linux provider to come up with one. On the flip side, this means you have more options with Linux!
So whether you opt for Linux servers or Windows servers, depends upon your technical comfort level as well as your experience in network administration. Both server platforms have their own share of cookies and bitter pills, and it is up to you to decide, based upon your requirements and technical expertise, which one suits you the best from among Linux servers vs Windows servers. Rather than being a which is better thing, it's more of a which one can you handle matter. After all, not for nothing do these two giants always get pitched up against one another!