Whitch distro for home server

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slapakp

New Member
Aug 4, 2023
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Hello, I'm about to create my first home server. I'd like to have it linux based, but I'm struggeling whitch distro is the best for this. Any suggestions?
 

rtech

Active Member
Jun 2, 2021
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Debian
OpenSuse
Ubuntu
Oracle linux

In that order
These distros are quite big and widespread so you will have no problem to find any guide to do almost anything and have lots of packages in repos
Linux noob = howto + package availability
 

oneplane

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2021
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Proxmox so you only have to do the hardware install once, and then run everything in VMs which you can all control from a browser and over SSH.

I would also suggest Debian as a first option, but Ubuntu as a second option.
 

rtech

Active Member
Jun 2, 2021
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Ubuntu does have annoying habit to forget/disappear certain tech they adopt a very Microsoft like behavior which have turned me off.
If you use something and suddenly they just forget about it. Yeah not very good for server.

Suse has its own strengths especially for beginners. Difference between Debian and Ubuntu is not that great so i downgraded the latter.
 

oneplane

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Jul 23, 2021
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Ubuntu does have annoying habit to forget/disappear certain tech they adopt a very Microsoft like behavior which have turned me off.
If you use something and suddenly they just forget about it. Yeah not very good for server.

Suse has its own strengths especially for beginners. Difference between Debian and Ubuntu is not that great so i downgraded the latter.
While I agree with that, for me dpkg wins over rpm and whatever else is still in use out there hence the re-ordering :p But just sticking to Debian would be the best option anyway. It's a good balance between stability, capability and not too much friction to get stuff done.
 

gea

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Dec 31, 2010
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Ubuntu does have annoying habit to forget/disappear certain tech they adopt a very Microsoft like behavior which have turned me off.
If you use something and suddenly they just forget about it. Yeah not very good for server.

Suse has its own strengths especially for beginners. Difference between Debian and Ubuntu is not that great so i downgraded the latter.
A Microsoft alike behaviour is not too bad especially if you mainly want an SMB filer that can replace a Windows filer.
This is why I prefer Oracle Solaris Unix + native ZFS or the free Solaris forks around Illumos like OmniOS with Open-ZFS due

Windows superiour ntfs alike ACL with inheritance provided by Solaris (instead Posix ACL and oldstyle Unix permissions like 755) for SMB
Windows SID as extended ZFS attribute for SMB instead Unix uid/gid that allows a restore with Windows (AD) ACL intact without any mappings
Local Windows SMB groups (additionally to Unix groups, allows SMB groups in SMB groups)
ZFS Snaps = Windows previous versions without any settings as shares are like snaps a strict ZFS filesystem property on Solaris
Lowest resource needs with best of all ZFS integration as Solaris was more or less developped with, for and around ZFS

Minus of Solaris and Unix
You must care about hardware compatibility and software repository is not as big as on Linux but you can run it very efficient under ESXi up from 2-4GB RAM together with VMs like Windows, Linux or OSX for other services
 
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louie1961

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May 15, 2023
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+1 for Proxmox (which is actually built on Debian) and for Debian. I am running Proxmox 8.0 on an old HPz640 workstation (E5-2690v3/64GB Ram) with a bunch of Debian 12 VMs. I am very happy with it. I am running 15 different apps, some directly in Debian VMs, some in docker running on a Debian VM, and even a couple as LXC containers running directly on Proxmox

Proxmox also gives you some additional built in functionality, such as ZFS, VM snapshots and backups, and the ability to only have to install Debian once as a template then use the template to deploy VMs rapidly.
 

i386

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Mar 18, 2016
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Hello, I'm about to create my first home server. I'd like to have it linux based, but I'm struggeling whitch distro is the best for this. Any suggestions?
For a homelab? (testing/learning new things, unstable)
For "home infrastructure"? (file/media server, firewall/router duties, other services that need to run 24/7/be stable)

For a stable environment I would stick to ubuntu, the rhel clones (or the original) or debian because there are pretty big communities, not just on their forums/mail lists but also on stack overflow, reddit, sth and other places where you could get help.
 

Stephan

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Apr 21, 2017
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First, define "home server". Can be anything from simple CIFS server aka Windows shares for clients and management of some underlying RAID or ZFS. Would be one smb.conf configuration file and you are done. Maybe what you wanted in that case is a Synology NAS? Or is home server a ProxMox installation with 20 VMs serving up all kinds of services like Pi-Hole, mqtt, dedicated GPS time server, etc.

Select a distribution that has the ZFS filesystem (available, not as default), ungoogled-chromium and what looks like excessive documentation. Bonus points if the distribution does not only support AMD64 but also ARM64 or PowerPC, because it signals the distribution has something good and also attracted enough talent to boot non-x86. That's where the top-end, hot-shot, privacy-aware freaks hang out, who have beaten down a nice walkable path in front of you, and where you want to be. Random items off the top of my head:

- Anything RPM-based is a little doomed, ever since IBM bought Red Hat, Fedora got canned and now CentOS and clones are looking into an uncertain future. Yes I know, they have a plan, but like good philosopher Mike Tyson says, everyone has a plan, until 2,000 IBM lawyers punch you in the face.
- Anything with the name Oracle on it can be disregarded.
- If you just want to use, stable, little hoopla, try Debian. Not rolling, boring, works.
- If you want to learn, modify alot (kernel, packages), try vanilla Arch.
- If you want to learn even more, try Gentoo.
- If you want to go right to the next-gen Linux distribution and can stomach serious learning curve and some pain, try NixOS.
- Honorary mention to Pop!_OS because when I looked for obscure Linux kernel settings to really get the very last bits of smoothness out of my Linux desktop, I found out and was impressed that Pop!_OS already had them in their distribution.
- All BSDs are currently way behind on features and hardware support.

If you keep important data, shoot for a 3:2:1 backup.
 

BackupProphet

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Jul 2, 2014
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Debian is safe, and stable. Ubuntu is not bad either. Both supports major upgrades.
I really like CentOS and AlmaLinux, but they don't support major upgrades. AlmaLinux has this elevate tool, but any customization will break it.
Ubuntu also has this Pro edition with additional security fixes which is great for small businesses.

I will also say that fixing/doing things in CentOS/AlmaLinux is 10x easier than Debian/Ubuntu, because you have 100x less noise to read through to fix something. At my new company we will use a combination of AlmaLinux 9 and Debian Bookworm.

There is also a performance issue at the moment between distros, hopefully Phoronix will take another look at this soon.
 

pricklypunter

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Nov 10, 2015
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I am firmly in the Debian camp, with or without a GUI. It's rock solid and easy to maintain. Help and resources are readily available and there's a massive community of users that will almost certainly be able to work through issues with you if you have them. All bar one of my servers are running Debian and I dual boot my Laptops with it too. I've only just got around to upgrading to Bookworm on my Laptops and so far all I can report is that it's been great :)
 
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MBastian

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Jul 17, 2016
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For professional use I am (for now) in the RHEL clone camp (Rocky Linux) for private use I prefer Arch Linux. In my experience the only things that can be wonky after updates is ZFS (no suprise here) and libvirt, especially when you use PCI passthrough.
That said, I tend to run all essential services in Docker or LXC containers. If there isn't a ready to go image I like I'll use mostly Debian as a base.

If you are a beginner and just want it to work go with Debian.
 
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Breezy2428

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Jul 30, 2023
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I went with Debian 12 Bookworm, I have experience with its descendants Ubuntu and Mint, so when looking for something familiar but with more stability / cleaned up. Debian was an obvious choice.

First tried with Gnome DE, that was defiantly not it, switched to XFCE and so far so good, got a ZFS pool and some data sets up and running. I am in the process of loading data on it now.

Other than being stricter and a bit less friendly than Ubuntu/Mint I like it. Once i get something working it just stays working.
 

CyklonDX

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Nov 8, 2022
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Alma (rhel)
Rocky (rhel)
opensuse
slackware (unraid is you are lazy)


i'd stay away from debian, ubuntu, or oracle.