Server Operating System Explained

Updated on Jun 1, 2022 by

FS Rack Servers

The server operating system is the key to managing the server and driving applications to run on it. Choosing a suitable server operating system for your business can be a difficult decision. This article will delve deeply into the critical performance parameters, management tools, and operational characteristics of server operating systems, offering a hands-on guide to assist you in making a savvy choice, ensuring that your enterprise continues to develop with a reliable technological environment as its backbone.

What Is a Server Operating System?

A server operating system (OS) is an operating system installed and used on servers to manage server hardware and software resources and provide services to multiple programs.

Server operating systems are optimized to provide more advanced features and functions for client-server architectures or enterprise IT environments. And server operating systems are targeted to the network rather than a single user, so they can handle multiple desktops and make for easy administration and less downtime.

Server Operating System Types

Most servers can support a wide range of operating systems. Each server OS has its advantages and disadvantages. The following introduces the most common server operating systems on the market.

Server Operating System

1. UNIX Operating System

UNIX is a multi-user and multi-tasking operating system. It's widely used in the client-server environment. UNIX server operating system is implemented with a high-level C programming language that supports multiple platforms, making it suitable for many hardware architectures.

UNIX is designed for multi-user environments and has built-in TCP/IP, demonstrating superior stability and security. But it is very costly, and there are many different versions of UNIX operating systems from different vendors, so there is no standard UNIX server operating system.

2. Linux Operating System

Linux server operating system is a UNIX-like operating system with all the functions of UNIX. Linux is the dominant operating system on servers and supercomputers. It is reported that more than 96.4% of the world's top 1 million servers use Linux operating system as their server OS.

Linux is free and open-source and supports multi-user, multi-process, multi-threaded operations. However, to adopt a Linux server operating system, enterprises need to make sure they have comprehensive technical expertise, including installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

3. Windows Operating System

Windows operating system was developed in the mid-1980s for daily personal use and professional servers. It provides services to multiple users and supports the management and control of data storage, applications, and business networks.

Windows server OS is an operating system applicable to the cloud, which supports virtual memory management and has an intuitive GUI. Moreover, it is more user-friendly than most Linux-based operating systems and is easy to install and use. But Windows server operating system is paid. And it faces more security threats, which requires timely download of the latest security patches to protect the system from these security threats and to ensure ongoing security.

4. NetWare Operating System

NetWare server operating system was widely used in early LANs. It supports multi-processor and high-capacity physical memory management. It also has superb file sharing and printing capabilities and provides high scalability for corporate networks through open standards and file protocols. However, the NetWare server OS has very obvious drawbacks. It requires expensive investment and challenging installation, and many applications don't support the system.

Finding the Right Server Operating System for Businesses

Servers can be valuable to businesses of all sizes and are important to business growth. Although most servers function roughly the same, their features and performance can vary widely depending on the operating system they are running on. There are numerous choices of server operating systems on the market for different types of businesses. Below are some suggestions on choosing a server OS based on business size.


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Small Businesses

Small enterprises should balance their budget constraints with the skills of their IT staff. If funds allow, Windows Server Essentials is an excellent choice, with features tailored to modest-sized operations. Priced for the small business market, it offers user-friendly management and remote access features, but it is limited to 25 users and 50 devices, making it ideal for burgeoning startups.FS offers the TS4620 and TS1610 servers, suitable for small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as users in education and government. Both servers support the Windows Server 2019 operating system and utilize Intel® Xeon® Gold/Silver processors, providing robust support for emerging startups.

Medium-Sized Businesses

For a growing medium-sized business, an OS that is both cost-efficient and scalable is key. A Linux distribution, like Ubuntu, is often the best fit. As a free and versatile platform, Ubuntu provides stability and ease of installation, plus the flexibility to be customized to a company’s unique requirements.

Large Enterprises

Large companies with extensive IT infrastructures, such as data centers, need robust operating systems that can manage complex operations. Linux is a powerhouse here, widely used in supercomputing for running extensive applications, known for its reliability and manageability. However, it does have a steeper learning curve, which may necessitate hiring specialized IT professionals. NS6240 and NS7440 offered by FS, and supporting the Red Hat Linux 8.5 operating system, are the ideal choices for data centers requiring powerful processing capabilities, large storage capacities, and high throughput.

Alternatively, for critical business operations, like banking transaction systems, the UNIX operating system is an established choice, renowned for its stability and maintenance convenience. Keep in mind that UNIX-based solutions require specific hardware and come with a high cost, so they are best suited for large organizations with flexible budgets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How frequent are updates for server operating systems?
A: Different operating systems have varying release and support cycles, with commercial systems typically providing more frequent official updates and support.
Q: Can I run multiple operating systems on the same server?
A: Through virtualization technology, it's possible to run multiple instances of operating systems on the same server.
Q: Do I need a professional IT team to manage the server operating system?
A: For complex systems, especially in a large corporate environment, hiring a professional IT team is necessary.
Q: Which operating system is more secure?
A: UNIX and Linux are generally considered more robust in security, depending on proper configuration and timely updates.


The right server OS is indispensable for the growth of your business now and in the future. Currently, there are various server operating systems on the market, with different features, and for different business needs. However, in general, the best choice of server operating system is the one that best matches your organization's existing IT infrastructure and workload.

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