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Top 5 Server Operating Systems in 2024

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The best server operating systems in 2024 can vary depending on the specific use case. From virtualization and containers to file sharing and security, let’s explore the top server OS options across five key categories.

Hypervisors

Hypervisors are an essential component of server operating systems, allowing the running of multiple operating system instances in virtual machines. Here are the top hypervisor choices for virtualization:

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1. VMware ESXi

VMware ESXi remains the undisputed leader in the hypervisor market, offering a feature-rich and polished virtualization platform. Despite the recent buyout by Broadcom, ESXi continues to excel in terms of features, capabilities, and ecosystem support.

Pros:

  • Best features and capabilities among its peers
  • Excellent management and administration tools
  • High efficiency and performance
  • Wide range of supported operating systems
  • Robust ecosystem

Cons:

  • Recent buyout by Broadcom
  • Drastic increase in prices
  • Elimination of free ESXi and perpetual products
  • Potential requirement to purchase unnecessary software bundles

2. Nutanix

Nutanix is a well-established competitor in the enterprise space. With their own hypervisor, AHV (Acropolis Hypervisor), Nutanix provides a comprehensive HCI (Hyper-Converged Infrastructure) solution.

Pros:

  • Simplified data center operations with an all-in-one HCI solution
  • Bright future due to the VMware Broadcom buyout
  • Cost-effective alternative to other hypervisors as AHV is included at no additional cost
  • User-friendly with a simplified management interface
  • Integration with Nutanix’s ecosystem for seamless operation

Cons:

  • Organizations with specific requirements may need more established hypervisors
  • Higher cost for small to medium-sized enterprises
  • Tailored features may limit flexibility with third-party solutions

3. Proxmox VE

Proxmox VE combines KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) and LXC (Linux Containers) to provide a flexible and cost-effective virtualization environment. It offers a user-friendly web interface for management.

Pros:

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  • Open-source and free to use with optional paid support
  • Support for both VMs and containers
  • User-friendly web interface
  • Flexibility and cost-effectiveness as an alternative to proprietary platforms

Cons:

  • Steeper learning curve for users unfamiliar with Linux
  • Community support may vary in responsiveness

4. XCP-ng

XCP-ng is an open-source virtualization platform based on XenServer. It provides a powerful and flexible server virtualization environment suitable for both small and large-scale infrastructures.

Pros:

  • Completely open-source with the option for paid support
  • Broad compatibility with various operating systems
  • Active community support and professional support options
  • Robust features including live migration and disaster recovery

Cons:

  • May require more hands-on management and configuration compared to integrated solutions
  • User interface may not be as polished or intuitive as commercial alternatives
  • Some advanced features may require additional setup or third-party tools

5. Microsoft Hyper-V

Microsoft Hyper-V is a widely-used hypervisor integrated into Windows Server and Windows client operating systems. It offers seamless integration with Windows environments and supports Linux guests as well.

Pros:

  • Seamless integration with Windows environments
  • Broad support for Linux distributions as guest OSes
  • Good scalability and security features

Cons:

  • Additional licensing costs for advanced features
  • Best features mainly available on Windows Server editions

Conclusion

Choosing the best server operating system in 2024 depends on specific requirements and priorities. VMware ESXi is a top choice for virtualization, while Nutanix offers a comprehensive HCI solution. Proxmox VE and XCP-ng provide open-source alternatives, and Microsoft Hyper-V excels in Windows-centric environments.

Remember to carefully evaluate your needs and consider factors such as features, support, cost, and ecosystem compatibility when selecting a server OS.

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