Or It feels as it should be… it polarizes developers. Most web hosting companies use either one of two operating systems on their servers. We use both and other solutions as there are more solutions to problems on the internet but that’s not the point of this post. The two main platforms are Windows and Linux. What is the difference between the two and how do they effect your web hosting?
Linux is one of the most prevalent operating systems for web hosting, because it is inexpensive and lightweight however anything other than a simple static website it needs a great understanding. Windows is the other choice because they have world class support. However there are a lot of similarities and a lot of differences in how the two operate.
The next thing that you may notice about your web hosting is how you are able to access and transfer files to and in the server. Both operating systems have FTP access, but Linux is usually the only one that supplies telnet or ssh access as well. It’s not that Windows can’t do that, but it’s very rarely offered by hosting admins. However if you have a colo or one of our VPS systems then on windows you can use remote desktop to administer your windows server instance.
Linux and Windows servers can both provide CGI and Perl, PHP and ASP, though Linux is the one that you find those on more commonly. Both operating systems may also provide ColdFusion.
If you need a host that offers .NET, MSACCESS or windows app support with or without MSSQL then windows hosting is what you need. If you want it self manged or use core support then that is something you have to write into your software solution.
If you are going to run dynamic websites, you are going to want to be able to build and access databases. You may be familiar with mySQL, or perhaps you have used Access. If you are used to seeing mySQL and working with that, you have probably been on a Linux server. Windows can run it but it’s rare that you find mySQL on Windows and those servers are usually running Access.
Some people may site FrontPage extensions as a Windows exclusive feature, but some Linux servers will provide this as well.
The last difference, case sensitivity, is actually very important. With Linux, file and directory names are case sensitive. So if you name a file AboutUs.html, and another page in the same directory as aboutus.html, you actually will have to completely different pages. Your visitors will have to enter your page URLs precisely or risk landing on 404 error pages. Windows servers however really don’t care about upper and lowercase. On a Windows server, you would only have one aboutus.html page, no matter where you put or left out capitalization.
These differences between server operating systems may sound insignificant, but they can have a major impact on how you manage your site as well as your site traffics experience with your site. Armed with knowing which operating system does what, you can find or set up a web hosting server that will best meet your needs.
In conclusion windows Vs Linux is rather a moot point. They are two different tools to help you get your application on line and working for you.