Best Linux Distro for Systems Administrators

What is the best Linux Distro?

One of the most important things to consider when picking a Linux distribution is where will it be used. So whether you are just starting out as a sys admin or a seasoned pro you need to pick the right distro. If you are a student I would suggest Ubuntu because it gives a polished Windows like desktop environment. If you are entering the job market or currently working for a company, find out what Linux distro the admins, engineers and developers use at your location. If you are in between school and work, then I would suggest CentOS which is the community version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Suse Linux Enterprise Server the public version of OpenSuse backed by Novell.

Linux distros that are corporate related

Both CentOS and OpenSuse are full versions of their counterparts. As a matter of fact they both may even contain more functionality than their corporate counterparts because new features have to be thoroughly  vetted before being introduced to the corporate environment. OpenSuse is a combination of both Suse Linux Enterprise Server and Desktop OS. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the number one corporate distro followed by Suse Linux Enterprise. Ubuntu is the most popular distro in general. 

One of the best sites to keep a pulse of the Linux distro trends is distrowatch.com where they track all Linux downloads. Debian Linux is an early distro that Ubuntu is based on. Red Hat had early relationships with IBM while Suse was tied to Novell. 

Which Linux distro does Microsoft support?

Microsoft as an enterprise leader used in most corporations published an article called “Supported Linux and FreeBSD virtual machines for Hyper-V on Windows” where they state Linux distro’s supported by their Hyper-V product. In that list you will find my recommendations. I think Microsoft’s list tells a lot because they are supporting what large enterprises use. They list CentOS, Debian, Oracle Linux, Suse, Ubuntu and FreeBSD. I would agree that this is a solid line up. 

I have some honorable mentions. First is Fedora Linux, this is a cutting edge version of CentOS (Red Hat), next is FreeBSD which follows the above at 4. FreeBSD is used by major enterprises including Sony which runs a version of its OS on the Playstation 4. Many of your favorite institutions are running a version of Linux behind the scenes. In essence all these distros should work similar to the other. Its just a matter of finding something that you are comfortable with and can easily collaborate with. 

My pick of Linux distros

My order of Linux distros for Sys Admins: 

  1. CentOS (Red Hat Enterprise Linux)
  2. OpenSuse (Suse Linux Enterprise)
  3. Unbuntu

Best Linux Distro for Systems Administrators

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