Ubuntu is one of the most well known Linux distributions available. You've probably seen Canonical's ubiquitous logo and the familiar look of Ubuntu Desktop running GNOME. What you may not have realized is that Ubuntu also has a very popular server edition of their operating system.
Many distributions choose to concentrate on a single computing environment - either desktop PCs or servers. But Ubuntu's massive popularity and strong footing in the Linux community have allowed it to produce a very viable server edition and still maintain their desktop release.
Ubuntu Server doesn't feel much like its Desktop counterpart at first. Sure, the terminal commands are the same and you still use the
apt package manager, but the Server edition is optimized for efficiency. It doesn't come with a graphical interface installed and it's assumed that you have a certain level of technical knowledge to get things going. Contrast this with Ubuntu Desktop, which rivals the most user friendly Linux distributions and comes preloaded with lots of software.
Still, Ubuntu's ease of use continues to shine through on the Server edition. The amount of support and documentation you'll find available online is also hard to beat. Ubuntu Server can be used for small company servers all the way to enterprise class data centers.
With Linux currently powering 31% of websites and Ubuntu comprising 42% of Linux web servers, Ubuntu Server's popularity speaks for itself. Debian, on which Ubuntu is based, and CentOS are also common choices for servers.
It's also worth mentioning that, like Red Hat and other big names in commercial Linux, Ubuntu offers professional phone and online chat support. Otherwise, Ubuntu Server is absolutely free.
Ubuntu Server Release Schedule
New LTS (Long Term Support) versions of Ubuntu Server are released every two years. Long Term Support releases are tested, stable, and secure iterations of Canonical's beloved Ubuntu operating system. They retain support and updates for the next five years after release, but you'll be able to upgrade to a newer LTS version long before that.
New interim versions of Ubuntu Server are published every six months. Interim releases are a sort of "sneak peak" or beta version of the upcoming LTS release. They are meant to test new software and allow users a chance to see how it behaves in their current server environment. Interim releases are production quality but only supported for nine months.
On a production server, you'll want to avoid upgrading to interim releases. You'll probably even want to avoid upgrading to newly released LTS versions. It's usually safer to wait a few months after an LTS release and avoid being an early adopter when administering a critical server. Food for thought.
Ubuntu Server Download
Ubuntu's website has a dedicated download page just for Ubuntu Server. It's only available for 64 bit CPUs and the default ISO image is for AMD64 CPU architecture, but there are alternative downloads available for ARM and a few other architectures.
Ubuntu Server ticks all the boxes. It's free, stable, scalable, and has optional support plans. It's easy to use and you can breeze through the installation to get up and running in no time.