Linux hosting has become increasingly popular in recent years. Worldwide, well over 60% of web servers now run the Linux operating system and, from its humble beginnings in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s “mass collaboration and free software” project of the mid 1980s, Linux has grown to become the world’s dominant hosting solution.
The Linux operating system is an open source software collaboration project. Under the terms and conditions of the Linux GNU General Public License, all of the source code that makes this operating system function can be freely modified by absolutely anyone.
This “open source” approach to code development has allowed software writers from around the globe to contribute to the development and evolution of this unique operating system. This attitude contrasts sharply with organizations such as Microsoft, who continue to guard jealously the secrets of all their core systems and products. Many observers predicted the open source approach to software development would inevitably lead to horribly bloated software that was riddled with errors and inconsistencies. In fact, the opposite has turned out to be true and Linux has proved to be an extremely stable and well-designed operating system.
Web hosting companies quickly realized that offering Linux hosting could provide them with a number of clear advantages. It is an inexpensive operating system to own and replace. It is very easy to install, use and maintain. It is robust, stable, reliable and secure. And, most importantly, when the almost inevitable range of modifications and customizations are required, the open nature of the Linux project has ensured that a very wide range of experienced individuals and organizations are freely available.
Many of the advantages that Linux offers hosting organizations are also important for webmasters and web developers. Excellent reliability means that hosting companies running Linux-based systems will typically have excellent (in other words, very low) down time figures, and their hosting systems tend to be extremely resistant to virus attack. The latter is largely because virus writers still tend to concentrate on Windows operating systems, and this of course might change in the future. However, for the moment, hosting security is still a major advantage for Linux-based systems.
However, perhaps the most important weapon in the Linux armory is the freedom this system offers web developers to exploit other, extremely popular, open source products such as MySQL, XML, Python and PHP. All these software systems have grown in popularity along with Linux. The control and integration options built into Linux have made it the logical choice for both hosts and developers wishing to exploit these powerful open source products.
Finally, almost all Linux hosting systems now come with the hugely popular cPanel control panel. It is perhaps this user-friendly interface, more than any other, that has proved to be the Linux killer application.
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