OpenLiteSpeed vs LiteSpeed

If you are considering an alternative to popular web servers like Apache and NGINX for your Linux system, you may have come across OpenLiteSpeed. There are two versions of this web server developed by LiteSpeed Technologies, those being OpenLiteSpeed and LiteSpeed. One is free and one is not, but what other differences are there between these two software packages?

In this tutorial, you will learn about all the differences between the OpenLiteSpeed and LiteSpeed web servers for Linux. This will help you determine which software will be best for your needs. After all, there is no need to pay for an enterprise version if your needs can easily be met by the free edition.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • OpenLiteSpeed vs LiteSpeed differences and advantages
OpenLiteSpeed vs LiteSpeed
OpenLiteSpeed vs LiteSpeed
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Any Debian Linux or Red Hat Enterprise Linux based Linux distro
Software OpenLiteSpeed and LiteSpeed web servers
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

OpenLiteSpeed vs LiteSpeed – key differences

OpenLiteSpeed is a free and open source web server. OpenLiteSpeed is developed to be highly scalable, can accelerate WordPress performance, and work on minimal hardware specs. It is compatible with Apache rewrite rules (e.g., .htaccess files), but requires a restart for changes to take effect. For website that do not undergo lots of rule rewrites, do not need integration with Plesk or cPanel, and can do without commercial support, OpenLiteSpeed is a perfectly good option. For the majority of websites, OpenLiteSpeed is all you will need.

LiteSpeed is the the enterprise edition of the web server. It is non free (pricing here) so will require you to purchase a monthly, yearly, or permanent license, and the software is closed source. It features full integration with Apache, so you can drop your complete configuration into LSWS and be up and running right away. It has more features for WooCommerce, managed WordPress, and suppors more integration like Plesk and cPanel. For those with a bustling website, especially a WooCommerce website, purchasing a license for LiteSpeed would be advantageous. You can also get your web hosting directly through LiteSpeed, if you do not want to host it yourself.

OpenLiteSpeed vs LiteSpeed – advantage comparison

To get a full list of all the differences in features between OpenLiteSpeed and LiteSpeed web servers, see the full breakdown below. Info below sourced from

Basic Features

OpenLiteSpeed and LiteSpeed share all of the same basic features. These include:

  • Support for the newest HTTP network protocols: HTTP/2 and HTTP/3
  • Can host websites or take visits from IPv4 and IPv6 addresses
  • Support for popular languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Perl, Ruby, Python, NodeJS, JSP, etc.
  • API support including LiteSpeed API, CGI, FCGI, AJPv13, Proxy
  • Unlimited IP and name-based virtual hosting
  • Serve content faster with GZIP and Brotli compression
  • WebSocket Proxy and reverse proxy
  • Latest TLS encryption
  • Can run on major Linux distros like CentOS, Ubuntu, and Debian
  • Integration with CloudLinux LVE manager

Apache Compatibility

OpenLiteSpeed has some compatibilty with Apache, namely with Apache mod_rewrite rules and the mod_security v3 engine. LiteSpeed takes Apache compatibilty further by including those on top of the following features:

  • Optimized commercial mod_security engine
  • Reads Apache’s configuration files directly
  • Apache Hosting control panel compatible
  • Full .htaccess support

LiteSpeed also does not need to be restarted every time it reads changes from an .htaccess file. You can’t get this feature on OpenLiteSpeed.

Performance and Scalability

Both OpenLiteSpeed and LiteSpeed web servers boast a small memory footprint and prove highly scalable. They can both handle lots of concurrent web visitors, so there is no major difference in this category. Both servers offer caching, and have a fundamental separation of server and web applications.

LiteSpeed has the following exclusive features:

  • Advanced .htaccess caching
  • SSL Offloading


Both web servers offer the following security features:

  • Anti-DDoS connection and bandwidth throttling
  • Anti SSL BEAST and negotiation attack capabilities
  • Strict HTTP request validation
  • Denies buffer-overrun attempts
  • PHP / Ruby / CGI / FCGI / LSAPI suEXEC
  • mod_security compatibility
  • SSL client verification
  • reCAPTCHA Protection
  • CloudLinux CageFS compatibility

LiteSpeed also has improved WordPress brute force attack protection, and chroot ability.

High Availability

Both servers should rarely need restarted or reloaded. However, OpenLiteSpeed does need reloaded for changes to .htaccess files, and also must be completely restarted when going through a server software upgrade. LiteSpeed has higher availability as it can propogate .htaccess changes in real time and stay online during software upgrades.

Ease of Use

Both OpenLiteSpeed and LiteSpeed feature an admin web panel, which is one of the main draws to this software in the first place. You can configure virtual hosts in a GUI, rather than dealing with configuration files and their strict syntax in terminal. The web panel also allows you to monitor services and performance in real time.

OpenLiteSpeed can integrate with CyberPanel and DirectAdmin. Litespeed can do the same, but also supports integration with cPanel, WHM, and Plesk.

Cache Plugin Support

There are cache plugins developed for the most popular content management systems. These include:

  • WordPress
  • Joomla
  • OpenCart
  • Drupal 8
  • XenForo 1.x and 2.x
  • MediaWiki
  • Laravel

LiteSpeed also has exclusive cache plugins available for:

  • Magento 1.x and 2.x
  • PrestaShop
  • Shopware

Advanced Features

OpenLiteSpeed and LiteSpeed support the following advanced features:

  • Easily run multiple versions of PHP on one server
  • mp4/flv streaming
  • Stream logs to external logger
  • Geo-IP lookup
  • Custom log formatting
  • Node JS, Python/Django, Ruby/Rails app server support

LiteSpeed also supports the following extras:

  • ESI support
  • MS FrontPage Server Extensions
  • Rails shared hosting
  • Redis mass hosting

Closing Thoughts

In this tutorial, we learned about the differences between the OpenLiteSpeed and LiteSpeed web servers on a Linux system. For the majority of users, OpenLiteSpeed will be a viable option. For enterprise websites with lots of traffic, frequent updates, and the need to integrate with Apache and various other control panel software, LiteSpeed will be the better choice. Both servers have many overlapping functions, and will provide a very fast experience for your users, which is the most important thing.

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