Getting the right hardware and network setup for your server is difficult enough. Choosing the right operating system, configuring it, and then maintaining it can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips to get you through the process.
1. If you are on a limited budget, you should definitely consider a free and open source operating system like Linux, FreeBSD, or OpenSolaris.
2. You can support your own server if you have the technical knowledge. Otherwise, you should get a commercial operating system (open source or proprietary) that comes with support.
3. Make sure the OS you choose is one you can live with for a long time. It is never a good idea to change the server OS once the server is live.
4. Think long term. You want an OS that will be stable, updated, and supported for years to come.
5. If you are trying a new OS like Linux for the first time, test it using a virtual machine like Virtualbox. You can learn a lot from it before ever even installing it on your server.
6. Make sure the software and web applications you want to run will be compatible with the server operating system you choose. You do not want to find out that they are not compatible after the fact.
7. Paying more will not necessarily get you better quality. Weigh the pros and cons of features, security, and stability to make your decision.
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