Although many debates about which operating system is best for hosting a server usually revolve around Linux and Windows, they are just two of many server-ready operating systems available. Some are free and open like Linux, while others are commercial and closed. Here is a brief list of some of the most popular alternatives.
FreeBSD – Based on the original BSD, a free alternative to UNIX, FreeBSD is free and open source and is known for its stability and its devil mascot.
OpenBSD – Another BSD variant, OpenBSD is known for its security-conscious configuration. The developers of the OS are also responsible for OpenSSH and OpenSSL.
Solaris – Once the brain child of the now defunct Sun Microsystems, Solaris is a commercial UNIX variant that uses many of the open tools available for BSD and Linux. In addition, there is a free version called OpenSolaris. All Solaris products are now owned by Oracle.
Mac OS X Server – Although most commonly perceived as a desktop OS, Mac OS X is a full-fledged Unix variant and contains many of the features of BSD. Like most commercial Unix offerings, OS X Server is designed to be run on Apple hardware, although there is a free and open source version, Darwin, that could technically run on anything.
Other Commercial UNIX variants – Many of the large server companies included their own proprietary UNIX operating systems already installed on their servers. Some of the big names were IBM’s AIX and HP’s HP-UX.
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