When I started to build out my home network a couple of years ago I decided to standardize on Linux rather than Windows for all of my servers. This decision was primarily based on licensing costs. With the infrastructure I had envisioned, having to purchase multiple Windows Server licenses was simply not a cost I was willing to commit to. Adopting a Linux platform also provides far more open source software options further reducing the costs that I would incur over time.
After some research and testing of various Linux distros I settled on Ubuntu server. As one of the more popular versions of Linux, there are tons of articles on setting it up and troubleshooting issues. I run the LTS versions to ensure stability and support for the long term.
Committing to Linux as your server OS requires that you’re willing embrace the command line. Gone are the days when you use a GUI to install, setup, and configure software as you do in Windows. Instead, you’ll be editing a lot of text files so get comfortable with text editors. The good news is that there’s an incredibly large community of people that provide helpful advice and tutorials to assist in setting up the various software and services that you run on your server.
Making the switch from Windows to Linux requires a completely different mindset. Things that happen automatically in windows, such as mounting a newly added disk, often require some manual work or editing of text files. This can be a bit frustrating at first but once you get used to it, you come to appreciate the power, flexibility and complete control that the Linux approach provides.
One of the challenges that I had to overcome when I first adopted Linux is that it gives you so many choices that it’s sometimes difficult to decide how to proceed. For instance, one of the first decisions I had to make was choosing a file system. With Windows you simply use NTFS but with Linux you have ext2, ext3, ext4, ZFS, BtrFS, XFS and many others. So, while Linux gives you a lot of flexibility, it also requires a bit of thought and research. Having all these choices can be a bit overwhelming when coming from a Windows background where options are more limited.
Linux has worked out quite well for me and I’m very satisfied with the decision to make the switch. If you can get through the initial learning curve of Linux, it’s a great platform to build upon.