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What is Red Hat Enterprise Linux?

Red Hat® Enterprise Linux is one of the most popular and trusted versions of the Linux operating system (OS). This flagship product of the Red Hat company is often used as the core OS for Linux-based hosting packages, and brings scalable security and support for shared, virtual and dedicated servers.

Choosing an OS for Your Linux-Based Hosting

When choosing a web hosting plan, one of the options to consider is what operating system your server will run. If you're choosing a Linux-based hosting package for your website, you'll most likely encounter a variety of options with regard to available bandwidth, processing power, and storage capacity. Depending on the plan you choose, you might also have a choice of operating system (OS) for your server.

There are many different Linux distributions available to choose from, and deciding which one is best for running your Linux server can be bewildering. All Linux-driven servers feature some version of Linus Torvald's Linux operating system (itself derived from the Unix system), and most distributions share a lot of common functionality, but some are optimized specifically for running servers, while others may be better suited to personal computers.

When it comes to choosing a Linux distribution specifically for your server, one of the most popular versions of the OS is Red Hat® Enterprise Linux.

What is Red Hat Enterprise Linux?

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (often abbreviated RHEL) differentiates itself from many other versions of Linux because it is designed exclusively for the commercial market. RHEL is developed by Red Hat, Inc., an American software company who is the largest corporate contributor to Linux. RHEL is a top choice for enterprise-level servers that need a stable OS to run powerful and resource-intensive software.>

There are many variants of RHEL offered by Red Hat, but the version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux designed for running Web and other servers is called RHEL Server. RHEL Server is optimized for high-efficiency resource management, Web application support and control, and strong security. These features are key to creating and supporting shared, virtual, and dedicated hosting platforms for customers of all types.

Like other versions of Linux, RHEL is often used in a LAMP configuration (Linux, Apache Web server, MySQL database management, and PHP HyperText Preprocessor (PHP) scripting support). This configuration forms the backbone of many Web servers, and enables support for a wide array of other applications and content.

RHEL is open-source, but requires the purchase of a license. However, because the source code is freely available, there are third party derivations of RHEL available, distributed with Red Hat-trademarked material stripped out. CentOS is one of the most popular derivatives of RHEL.

RHEL itself may require a license, but other popular varieties (including CentOS, which is derived from the Red Hat Linux core) are designed to provide 100% compatibility with, and identical functionality to, RHEL — without the need to purchase software or a license. In fact, CentOS and RHEL are often found as side-by-side or even combined OS options for Linux hosting packages (particularly cloud-based virtualized hosting packages that draw on multiple systems simultaneously).

A web host with RHEL Server may be right for you if...

  • You're running an enterprise-level server that needs to be able to handle heavy loads.
  • You need to run an enterprise software package that requires RHEL.
  • You want to be able to take advantage of the 24x7 customer support provided by Red Hat.

On the other hand, you may want to consider another option, such as CentOS, if...

  • You prefer to handle technical issues and support on your own, and don't need professional support available.
  • You value stability and reliability over keeping up with the latest software developments.

RHEL for Web Application Development

If you're looking for a solution to developing and hosting custom Web applications in the cloud, you may want to consider OpenShift by Red Hat, which is built on a foundation of RHEL. The online version of OpenShift gives developers an opportunity to test out the platform as a service (PaaS) with no need for installation, while the Enterprise version allows you to run OpenShift in your own data centers or private cloud.

By default OpenShift supports development in Ruby, Python, PHP, Perl, and Java, and the option to add any language you choose. Using OpenShift, it's easy to streamline your app development, testing, and deployment processes, while reducing the amount of time spent on monitoring and operations work. Its focus is on enabling developers to quickly release apps, with available features like application cloning, version support, and automatic scaling.

Finding a RHEL Web Hosting Plan

Because it's already been purchased for the server, RHEL won't generally add to your monthly hosting fees. However, depending on the package you select (including some dedicated hosting packages that allow you to purchase and install your own OS for maximum configurability and control), you may have to purchase a subscription or other license to use RHEL on your Web server. As always, check with your host before signing on the dotted line.

Red Hat Frequently Asked Questions

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