Linux is a complete operating system that is similar but not identical to Unix. It runs on a wide variety of hardware, ranging from Intel and AMD CPUs to more exotic hardware such as Digital Alpha computers, PowerPCs, and Silicon Graphics workstations. Probably the most unique characteristic of Linux is that it is freely distributable. Freely distributable means that the source code for the kernel and most software cannot be withheld. It does not mean that companies cannot charge for it. By means of comparison, hosting a website on Unix or Linux is nearly identical.
On the Internet you will find a multitude of Web Hosting Providers offering different packages on different platforms, each touting why theirs is the best and why you should host with them. Windows is better than Linux, Linux is better than UNIX, UNIX is better than Windows. Just who do you believe ? Which platform should you choose for your website ?
There is no straight answer to this question, since all of the above platforms have their merits. The trick of the matter is figuring out which platform is better for your websites own unique needs.
Letís take a look at the three options available. The first is Windows. Microsoft has created their own web server software that runs in Windows, called Internet Information Server (IIS). This software allows people to create web pages using ASP/ASP.NET, in addition to standardized web languages such as PERL. Itís strength lies in itís compatibility. Using IIS and ASP, a windows programmer can leverage his/her knowledge and incorporate windows COM objects and data access directly into their web application. MS Access and SQL Server are very easy to manipulate using ASP. The main drawback to this platform is price. If you run your own server, you will pay thousands of dollars in licensing fees just to get your server running, and additional fees if you want to also have a SQL database.
Next web have UNIX. UNIX has been around for quite a long time, and is known to be a very stable operating system. Most variations of UNIX were designed to only run on certain hardware platforms. Security is another proven strongpoint of a UNIX system. The main drawback with a UNIX system is their flexibility in terms of potential features and enhancements you can add to enrich your website.
Finally, there is Linux. Linux is a derivative of UNIX which is much more flexible than its predecessor. It is based on the same basic architecture, and tends to be very stable and secure. Linux can be run on a large variety of hardware, and is constantly being developed and improved. There are many distributions available, most of which can freely be downloaded from the Internet at no charge. PHP, one of the main staples of Internet Programming at the time of this writing, is currently BEST suited for the Linux platform.
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