Linux is a free and open source kernel that powers numerous operating systems (often called “distributions”). Many system administrators have long regarded Linux as the best option for powering web-facing dedicated servers and virtual private servers. There are, however, many other options. So, what makes Linux the best, or is it even truly the best at all?
Some of the other operating systems used on dedicated servers include Microsoft Windows, BSD variants, Solaris, Mac OS X Server, and various proprietary versions of UNIX. Many would argue that Linux is more secure and more stable that Windows Server, but some have been known to argue that BSD variants, particularly OpenBSD is more secure than Linux. In truth, much of security depends on how a sysadmin configures the server and maintains it. There is no easy way to gauge the security of one over another, but Linux is definitely easy to secure.
Another possible advantage Linux might have over others is its package management system and software distribution model. By allowing easy in-box updating of software, Linux package management systems are efficient and easy. Furthermore, most of the software you will use is also free and open source.
Finally, there is the question of licensing. Those who favor free and open source software will note Linux’s superiority to proprietary operating systems. Also, Linux uses the GPL, which is more stringent in its free software agenda than BSD variants. This ultimately becomes a matter of preference.