Is a Commercial Linux Distribution Worth the Price?

Deciding to go with Linux as your dedicated server’s OS of choice is only a first step. Linux, after all, is only the kernel of a wide variety of operating systems, called distributions. While all of them pretty much have the same security and stability benefits that likely caught your attention in the first place, they can differ dramatically on other issues, such as price. When you can download some Linux distributions for free, is a commercial distribution worth it?

To answer this question, you need only look at some relevant examples. One of the most successful commercial Linux distributions is Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Those who cannot afford to pay licensing fees might consider the free alternative CentOS, which has binary compatibility with RHEL. But this might make you wonder why anyone, even someone who can easily afford it, would pay Red Hat for something they can get from CentOS for free.

The key ingredient that commercial distributions add is support. With a free distribution, you get it as is with no warranty or support of any kind. While you can freely get support from the community or from public documentation, you cannot call up the developers and expect them to offer you any assistance.

If you are running a business and have mission-critical applications running on your servers, paid support might be a necessity. It truly depends on your financial situation and your technical expertise.