Web hosting on Linux has become increasingly popular, and not only because it is extremely cost-effective and boasts some of the most popular control panels and add-on applications; it has also proved itself to be an extremely stable, scalable and reliable platform.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of web hosting on Linux, particularly CloudLinux.
While Windows is the more recognisable name to most people, Linux is more popular amongst web developers and is more often used than a Windows setup by popular, brand name websites. Linux sounds daunting to non-technical users who run Windows on their home machines. However, Linux is in fact completely transparent to anyone creating a web site using a web host that runs Linux. While most desktops and laptops use Windows, more sites use the Linux platform than do Windows. At a rough estimate, more than 70 percent of Internet hosting and service providers are Linux-based.
If you have a static website, you can host your website on either Windows or Linux. If your site is dynamic, your decision should be based on the type of scripting language you use. For example, if you use PHP and MySQL for your site then you should ideally host your website on Linux. On the other hand, if your site has been made using scripts like ASP.net, ASP, MSSQL, or Microsoft Access then you should choose a Windows platform.
Some famous websites that run on some flavour of Linux include Google, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, Twitter, Blogger, LinkedIn, WordPress, Mozilla, Flickr, Amazon, NASA, McDonalds, IBM, the NYSC, CNN, and Wikipedia. The fastest supercomputer in the world, China’s Tianhe-2, which is capable of performing 33.86 petaflops operations per second, runs Kylinos, a Linux-based Operating System.
Benefits of Linux web hosting
Innovate and up-to-date
Linux is tended by a volunteer army of some of the most innovative IT thinkers around the world. Linux is developed and tested by these unpaid developers who have a passionate belief in its value. Many hands do make light work. Linux is developed, regularly kept up to date much faster and efficiently than proprietary systems.
LAMP - an acronym used for Linux OS, Apache Server, MySQL RDMS, and PHP scripting language– is one of the most popular web development platforms. This bundle of open-source software and server technologies provides an efficient platform for developing and implementing dynamic, interactive web-based applications and services, from eCommerce to social networking sites. LAMP is open-source - so every component can be interchanged with another without vendor lock-in to any product. Effectively, the toolkit that developers rely on is entirely customisable. Wikipedia, for instance, uses a customised LAMP stack with the addition of Linux Virtual Server (LVS). Developers agree that Linux is simple to use, enabling faster application development at a lower cost.
A Linux-based web host offers all the scripts a newbie web owner needs to get a website up and running with little need for understanding what is happening on the backend, including cPanel and other popular control panel tools. Unlike all other platforms, Linux provides for simple administration without the need to download other software tools.
Even a cursory read on the internet about the pros and cons of Windows hosting versus Linux hosting shows that Linux is the more popular and most often recommended OS. It’s not that Windows will go the way of BlackBerry; it’s just that Linux has a reliable reputation that can only get stronger in the server market. Linux adoption is also increasingly popular by households, non-profit organisations, schools, businesses, and governments. It’s also King in the mobile arena. Android, the most popular OS in the mobile market, uses the Linux kernel.
Linux, on its own, is free open-source technology. Other distributions are modified as FOSS (Free and Open Source) at a lower cost than proprietary solutions like Windows. One example of a customised Linux distribution is the popular CloudLinuxOS, a favourite in the web hosting industry due to its ease-of-use and excellent security features. Using CloudLinux enables web hosts to keep their costs down and re-direct the savings to running world-class data centres and providing top-notch customer support. Bear in mind that Windows own Windows-based websites like hotmail.com, windowslive.com, office.com, bing.com and microsoft.com, so there are no licensing costs involved for them.
Add-ons, tools and advanced features
Linux allows the use of MySQL, PHP, Python, CGI and Pearl, which are very popular choices for webmasters. Similar Windows’ tools, like ASP and ASP.NET, can be troublesome to use. Linux web hosting usually comes with free and popular, one-click, scripts like Drupal, WordPress, Zen Cart, Joomla and Magento. Linux uniquely provides SSH or Telnet access which helps to interpret user data over transmission control protocol (TCP).
Linux offers best-in-class, one-click backup applications that are transparent to beginners as well as advanced users. Firewall, anti-spam and antivirus services are services easily installed by your administrator on Linux servers.
Linux comes with a GNU or General Public License so it can be used with distributions like Red Hat and Ubuntu. It is suitable for any website, from eCommerce to blogs. Also, server management requires a lot of administration and command-line-oriented operating systems like Linux are probably better suited for the amount of customisation a large website needs. Linux is portable and can be installed on a variety of hardware. This platform independence gives your web host more choice when selecting server hardware, thereby optimising cost versus service features.
If you compare sites written using the same technology but hosted on Linux and Microsoft platforms, nine times out of ten, the Linux site will outperform the Windows one. Linux-based operating systems and servers, like CloudLinux OS and Litespeed Server, consistently outperform their proprietary competition.
Linux file names are case-sensitive, so you can have a file called ContactUs.html and another one called contactus.html in the same directory but representing two completely different pages on your site. Windows filenames are not case-sensitive. The Linux approach ensures developers stick to more rigid standards. Development standards are necessary to ensure computability and reliability between software applications and between cloud-based services.
Internet forums and tutorials help Linux beginners as well as advanced users. This makes it easier for developers to create unique and exciting web applications as knowledge and new ideas are freely shared.
Linux-based servers are available for a variety of platforms. Managed and self-managed services are provided on Dedicated and VPS servers.
Robust, secure and reliable
Security and reliability are the two main reasons to choose Linux web hosting solution; these two factors result in higher up-time and an improved user experience.
What is CloudLinux?
CloudLinux OS is the recommended platform for multi-tenancy web hosting. It improves server security by isolating each tenant and giving them allocated server resources. This creates an environment that feels more like a virtual server than a shared hosting account. Over 20-million websites use CloudLinux. Top-rated features include:
- Customers are isolated in separate Lightweight Virtualised Environments (LVEs). Memory, CPU access and connections are allocated and limited for each client.
- Customers are “caged” using CageFS so that unstable scripts or malware can’t spread from one site to another.
- Isolating customers prevents resource hogging.
- MySQL usage is monitored, and abusers are throttled, thereby improving overall stability and performance.
- Stable servers reduce churn and allow you to increase density, your customer base and return traffic.
- Isolation also mitigates hacking attacks and reduces support requirements.
- SecureLinks is a kernel-level technology that prevents all known symbolic link attacks, which further enhances the security level of the servers.
- PHP Selector ensures the preferred PHP, usually the latest, is always used. CloudLinux also ensures the correct, and preferred, versions Ruby and Python are used.
- OptimumCache doubles IO throughput on a typical shared hosting system by eliminating IO operations related to reading duplicate files and optimising file caching.
- CloudLinux works with all the main control panels, including cPanel, and is compatible with most software commonly used with CentOS and RHEL.
A word of caution; while Linux is free open-source, choosing the absolute cheapest web host is never the best. You should choose a host that is both affordable and able to support you on all levels. Great, not good, support is probably the most important feature to consider when choosing a web host.
Some of the features you should ask your potential host about:
- RAID - Whether their servers have RAID pre-installed, a valuable feature but one that shows your host takes stability seriously.
- Data centre security and uptime – Your host should have procedures and processes in place in case of emergency (like a natural disaster or hacking attack) and during normal periods of downtime (like maintenance).
- Backups – Your host should offer a reasonable number of regular backups, both on-site and off-site to spread the risk if your data is threatened, e.g. by hackers, and ensure you can get up and running again quickly if you ever need to.
- Support – Take time to research your host on forums, and social and business networks. While disgruntled customers may just have had a bad experience, too many negative reviews of a client who doesn’t respond to customers is a bad sign.