5 Best Linux Distro Releases for Servers in 2022: Our Top Picks

5 Best Linux Distro Releases for Servers in 2022: Our Top Picks

Whether you need a stable and secure server platform for your business or personal needs, these best 2022’s Linux distro server releases are the way to go.

Although Linux has grown in popularity on the desktop, its real strength and power remain on the server front, where the OS is the sole leader. And, because the year is ending, we’ve compiled a list of the best server Linux distro releases in 2022.

So, if you’re in the market for a reliable and high-performing Linux distro for your server, you’re in luck! There are many excellent options, and we’ve rounded up the top 5 in this list. Each of these distros has its strengths and features, making them stand out as the best choices for servers in 2022.

Ranking Factors

When choosing the best Linux server release for 2022, we considered several factors to form our rankings, such as enterprise-ready, security, reliability, support, and the size and type of community that supports the distro. So, let’s take a closer look at each of them individually.

Server-Oriented

With more or less effort, every Linux distribution can be tuned to perform some server functions. But the differences begin here.

With very few exceptions belonging to the group of so-called “general purpose” Linux distributions, which perform equally well as server and desktop (for example, Debian), each Linux distribution primarily targets one of two major groups: server needs or desktop users.

Unlike the desktop-focused Linux distributions, the server-oriented ones adopt a different approach, with one of the primary differences being a conservative approach to including new software in a particular release.

In other words, the distros developed specifically for server needs typically include slightly older software versions. Still, they have been thoroughly tested and ensure the absence of critical vulnerabilities. At the same time, these distros include some additional security and performance optimizations to assure the reliability of the services that will operate on them.

Therefore, when creating our rating, the fact that the distribution is built and tailored, especially with server needs in mind, is quite essential.

Proven Reliability

Let us first explain what we mean by proven reliability. In short, a Linux distribution has proved its effectiveness and is widely used as a server distribution. As simple as it may sound, the truth is that you can’t go wrong with a well-established and well-known name in the Linux market over a more exotic offering based on your own biases.

Leaving aside the articles on the internet, even the one you are reading right now, a very reasonable starting point can be the availability of a given Linux distribution in leading cloud giants such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, DigitalOcean, Linode, and so on. Is it offered there as a server platform?

If the answer is yes, it is likely a server-oriented Linux distribution that has proven itself and can be depended on.

Of course, there are many more factors to consider, such as the distribution’s history and origins, reliable statistics on the server share of a particular distro, and so on. Therefore, this information can be used to create the big picture of how reliable a specific Linux distro is expected to be on a server field. So, this is one of the factors we considered in our rankings.

Support

Unlike the ranking below, the ranking factors here are not arranged as such. Therefore, although mentioned last, support is certainly not the least important factor we considered while compiling our ranking list.

With solid support, a server-oriented Linux distribution can only be successful and exist at all. It can result from one of two approaches.

The first is when the distro has solid financial backing, such as when we are talking about company-backed Linux distros. For example, we can point to Red Hat’s RHEL or Canonical’s Ubuntu.

The second way of giving reliable support is when the distribution has established a large and cohesive community of followers who willingly volunteer their labor and skills to the distribution’s development. Debian is the best example here.

Regardless of approach, timely security updates, detailed and up-to-date documentation, and the option of paid support for business customers who want it are key pieces in the distribution, making it into our rank.

Best 5 Server-Focused Linux Distro Releases in 2022

With all of the clarifications made above on which our rankings are based, it is time to get to the ranking itself. Here it is.

1. AlmaLinux 9.1 (Lime Lynx)

AlmaLinux 9.1
AlmaLinux 9.1

AlmaLinux, with its AlmaLinux 9.1 release, proudly holds the top spot in our list of the best Linux server distribution for 2022.

It is a community-driven enterprise-grade Linux distribution designed to be a free Red Hat Enterprise Linux alternative that arose as a natural consequence of Red Hat’s decision to discontinue CentOS in its then-current form. The distro aims to provide a stable, secure, and reliable platform for businesses and organizations.

AlmaLinux is based on a stable and well-established RHEL codebase. This means that it is fully binary-compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and inherits many of the same features, such as the DNF package manager, the systemd init system, the SELinux security module, etc.

The project is community-owned and governed by AlmaLinux OS Foundation – a non-profit organization. In other words, the distro is not owned by any particular company or individual but by the community. Now and forever. This guarantees that the distribution slogan “Forever-free enterprise-grade operating system” is honored.

Furthermore, AlmaLinux strives to minimize the time lag between releasing a new RHEL version and the corresponding Alma release. The same is valid for software updates.

All of these factors, combined with the uncompromising stability and reliability inherited from its Red Hat Enterprise Linux roots, contribute to making Alma the best server distribution for 2022, and the November release of AlmaLinux 9.1 only confirms this.

AlmaLinux 9.x will receive active support until May 31, 2027, and security updates until May 31, 2032.

2. Rocky Linux 9.1 (Blue Onyx)

Rocky Linux 9.1
Rocky Linux 9.1

Like Alma, Rocky Linux is a free and open-source operating system designed to be a Red Hat Enterprise Linux alternative. In practice, just like Alma, Rocky Linux is intended to be compatible with RHEL, so it can be used as a replacement in cases where RHEL is not possible or practical. This makes it a good choice for organizations that rely on RHEL but want to use a free and open-source alternative.

Gregory Kurtzer, the original CentOS project founder, founded the project. Additionally, the project has backing from multi-billion-dollar companies, such as VMWare, AWS, Google, etc.

Rocky Linux is governed and administered by the Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation (RESF), a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) founded and owned by Gregory Kurtzer.

However, this governance model does not align with our beliefs for a community in the spirit of free software. So, this is why we award Rocky Linux and its late November release, Rocky Linux 9.1, second place in our ranking. Furthermore, Rocky falls slightly behind Alma in keeping up with new RHEL releases, which contributes to our decision not to place Rocky at the top of our list.

Aside from these conceptual (in our eyes) flaws, Rocky Linux is one of the most robust and reliable servers operating systems out there today, and betting on it guarantees nothing less than the best. As a result, it is a perfect choice for users who want a free and open-source operating system that is compatible with RHEL and has a strong focus on security and stability.

Rocky Linux 9.x will receive active support until May 31, 2025, and security updates until May 31, 2032.

3. Ubuntu Server 22.04 (Jammy Jellyfish)

Ubuntu Server 22.04
Ubuntu Server 22.04

Based on Debian, the Linux world’s constant for stability and reliability for nearly 30 years, Ubuntu Server provides everything you might want from an enterprise-ready server distribution. As a result, it is a robust and reliable platform widely used for building and deploying servers in various settings, including cloud computing, data centers, and enterprise environments.

Ubuntu Server includes a range of features and tools specifically designed for use in server environments, such as support for multiple architectures, support for virtualization, and network management and monitoring tools. It is also designed to be highly scalable and reliable, focusing on security and ease of use.

On top of that, Ubuntu Server is the favored choice and option offered by the world’s largest cloud providers, with a strong focus on the business segment.

Despite these characteristics, in recent years, we have witnessed some abrupt shifts in the focus on the course of the company that funds distribution development, Canonical, which makes the future of distribution and which route it will follow challenging to predict. Furthermore, a possible IPO in 2023 could have unpredictable consequences for the company’s ownership in the future.

In this regard, AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux provide better predictability, allowing individuals and businesses to plan confidently for the future. For this reason, we have placed Ubuntu 22.04, released in April, in the third position in our ranking for 2022’s best server Linux distros.

Ubuntu 22.04 will receive active support until April 21, 2027, and security updates until April 1, 2032.

4. openSUSE Leap 15.4

openSUSE Leap 15.4
openSUSE Leap 15.4

openSUSE Leap is a free and open-source Linux distro sponsored by SUSE Software Solutions Germany GmbH and maintained by the openSUSE Project. It is a community-driven project that aims to provide a user-friendly and feature-rich operating system for various hardware architectures.

As its logo implies, openSUSE is a chameleon’s type Linux distro. In other words, it is part of the so-called general-purpose Linux distributions, well-suited to operate as both a desktop and a server operating system. And openSUSE is proof of that.

The distro’s highlights are the YaST Control Center and the Zypper package manager, and they will assist you with server administration and management.

openSUSE Leap 15.4, released in June, is a world-class enterprise Linux distribution that strives to give you nothing less than the best. It uses SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) sources, meaning openSUSE Leap users get the same operating system as paying SUSE Enterprise users. Furthermore, there’s also the option to upgrade to paid SLE and enterprise support without reinstalling.

openSUSE offers top-notch support and timely and reliable delivery of bug fixes and security updates, making it the perfect choice for mission-critical IT solutions. However, despite these undeniable benefits, undeserved, openSUSE lags in popularity and usage among the Linux community if we have to compare it with the other big players like Red Hat, Ubuntu, etc.

To summarize, openSUSE Leap 15.4 is considered exceptionally secure, making it suited for fields where faults or problems cannot be tolerated. All of the distribution’s undeniable qualities earn it a well-deserved fourth place in our rating of the best Linux distro releases for servers for 2022.

openSUSE Leap 15.4 will receive active support until December 1, 2023.

5. Oracle Linux 9.1

Oracle Linux 9.1
Oracle Linux 9.1

Oracle Linux has a history dating back more than 15 years of consistent stability and reliability. In addition, just as with AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux, the distro is fully 1:1 binary compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and is entirely free (available under the GNU General Public License) to download and use.

However, Oracle Linux takes things a step further thanks to the in-house built Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK). It is a Linux kernel Oracle created to address enterprise customers’ needs with a focus on performance, stability, and minimal backports by tracking the upstream kernel code as closely as is practical.

Words are somewhat unnecessary when it comes to software support. With the enormous financial power of a giant like Oracle behind it, the distro enjoys top-notch support with uncompromising quality, providing every system administrator with the piece of mind they want concerning the security and reliability of their servers.

If you run an Oracle database, Oracle Linux improves performance that no other Linux server distribution can match. However, in general, by relying on Oracle Linux, the user gets a top-tier server operating system equipped to meet the needs of both the home user and the business segment.

Oracle Linux 9.x will receive active support until July 1, 2032.

Conclusion

This article introduces you to the five best server Linux distribution releases for 2022. Whichever one you choose, you can’t go wrong. They’re all proven and reliable in the server field, providing you with a foundation to build on which to establish your IT infrastructure.

Furthermore, if you want to learn which are the best desktop-oriented Linux distributions for 2022, we highly recommend you to read our article on the topic: “Best 7 Linux Distro Releases for Desktop in 2022: Our Ranking.”

With this info, we hope to have been of help to you. We’re sure you have thoughts on the rankings given in this way, so please keep in mind that your opinions and feedback are always welcome in the comments section below.

Bobby Borisov
Bobby Borisov

Bobby is an Editor-in-Chief at Linuxiac. He is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, Bobby has worked as a Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

5 Comments

  1. Alma being number 1 is perfect since they’re also antagonistic to every other enterprise linux derivative that’s not oracle. Not only that, they receive help in secret from Red Hat. Anyone who believes otherwise is a fool and anyone from the project who says otherwise is a liar. I’m surprised they and Greg don’t get along since they both love to lie. Not only that, I wish everyone would stop believing Greg’s revisionist history about who founded CentOS. It wasn’t him at all and he’s a pathetic figurehead that just wants to freely advertise CIQ and act like he does so much for the Rocky community (hint: he doesn’t).

  2. You have Ubuntu at 3 and Oracle at 5. Two closed systems with marginal community direction. You say that is important for AlmaLinux to be #1 but the have no mention of Debian stable. This seems more of a popularity test. My two main systems are Alma and Debian for server stability without corporate interests pushing their own agendas.

    • It is weird not to see Debian stable on the list. I will take Debian stable over Ubuntu a million times. The list seems to be favoring red hat kinds of systems.

  3. From community perspective: If Alma and Rocky is one and two, then Debian and Ubuntu should be three and four, but better Alma #1, Debian #2, openSuse #3, Rocky, Ubuntu, Oracle…

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