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Finally, there is no limit to Linux and that's the beauty, IMHO... if you want something, you're gonna find it with Linux.
[edited by: iwannano1 at 12:54 pm (utc) on May 28, 2007]
I'm a fan of Solaris, and I find it crashes less than any Linux variant
As I'm more familiar with Solaris then I probably do a better job of maintaining it.
However, *most* of the machines that I run or develop on worldwide are Linux right now, and usually some RH/CentOS flavour, and it does work well for most things.
The main thing is to turn off all the services that you don't need, which will make things simpler and safer.
Just learning HOW to switch them off properly will make you into something of an expert...
I'm more used to RHEL on the server, and I run Ubuntu on the desktop. If you want RHEL without the support contract, try CentOS (which is identical to RHEL but without the Red Hat logos). I've never used Ubuntu as a live server, but their LTS (long-term support) versions should be good, and I much prefer APT to RPM.
so what 'flavour' of linux would be closely identifiable to OSX's own terminal and runnings?
None of them. ;) Mac OSX was built on a platform that evolved from FreeBSD [freebsd.org], which is not Linux at all, but like Linux it is a Unix-clone. FreeBSD has a more liberal license than Linux.
FreeBSD is a great server OS, harder to set up than the Linux variants you mentioned, but extremely stable.
For my laptop I use Ubuntu, have been for a close to 2 years now and its just getting better. Its based on Debian, has the mindshare of alot of smart Linux types and the people involved are (realitively) polite in the chat rooms.
RHEL is basically Fedora, but one version back, with available support, and with bug fixes and security fixes only, rather than the constant onslaught of updates you get for Fedora.
If you like Fedora, you will like RHEL/Centos, while enjoying a stable platform. Though, you may miss some of the latest features, and find you have to download newer versions of some software if you just can't give up the features.
Distros often come with a lot of utilities which you either don't need, or create holes or stability issues you don't want. For a server with a specific set of tasks--the question of the OP was about the best server OS--I would therefore build from source.
If you have the money to spend, consider HP-UX. But it won't be cheap, especially not because of the hardware you need, but it is rock-solid and in my experience easy to maintain.