You’ll learn about Red Hat Enterprise Linux and its use in web hosting
What is Red Hat?
Red Hat Enterprise Linux is one of the most popular versions of the Linux operating system.
This flagship product of the Red Hat company is often used as the core OS for Linux-based hosting packages. It 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.
Linux Hosting Options
If you’re choosing a Linux-based hosting package for your website, you’ll encounter a variety of options with regard to available bandwidth, processing power, and storage capacity. 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 kernel (itself derived from the Unix system) along with supporting utility programs.
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.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux (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).
Is RHEL Hosting Right for You?
A web host with RHEL Server may be right for you if…
You’re running an enterprise-level server
You need to run an enterprise software package that requires RHEL
You’re running non-Intel Hardware
You need Red Hat’s Customer Support
You’re looking to build a public or private cloud
RHEL is the de-facto standard for commercial Linux deployment.
It’s a good choice if you’re looking to host an enterprise-level load because many administrators are familiar with it.
Most of the applications for Linux are open-source.
What few proprietary applications exist are designed for Red Hat. This makes it a good choice if you need such an app.
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 should look elsewhere.
You should also probably opt for CentOS if you value stability and reliability over keeping up with the latest software developments.
While Intel processors still rule on servers, Red Hat is one of the few commercial Linux distros to support alternate architectures.
RHEL is available for IBM’s POWER architecture and Z Systems mainframes.
Benefits of the Red Hat Linux Hosting Environment
The Red Hat Openshift Linux distribution is a full-fledged enterprise platform. There are multiple variations designed to suit a variety of commercial needs.
The distributed server offers an easy to administer OS that can be deployed across a wide range of server environments.
The open source nature of Red Hat Linux also allows you to make changes that best suit your needs.
Reasons to Pick RHEL
Increased Windows Support
Simpler deployment and installation process
Red Hat Linux is designed for business
Linux containers and Docker are supported
It’s cleaner and has a smaller footprint
It offers military-grade security and network firewalls to prevent data intrusions and other breaches.
Increased Windows Support
The support for Windows has increased with Red Hat Linux. Using virtualization to run a Windows server is much better supported.
RHEL takes a big step forward with near complete Windows compatibility. Plus, it can be deployed as a guest OS across public clouds and hypervisors to extend its use even further.
Simpler Deployment and Installation Process
The deployment and installation process is also much cleaner and simpler, regardless of the software you’re installing, or the destination.
Designed for Business
Red Hat Linux is designed for business. There are several base environments to choose from including, infrastructure server, file and print server, basic web server, and virtualization host.
This makes it much easier to manage a wide range of installs and environments.
Linux containers and Docker are also supported. This helps to further workload isolation and make it easier to deploy different types of virtualization.
It’s cleaner and has a smaller footprint, which means that you can reduce support and general maintenance, plus deliver apps much faster.
Plus, it’s incredibly easy to scale via Linux containers that allow you to package your applications.
RHEL offers military-grade security and network firewalls to prevent data intrusions and other breaches
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.
Red Hat Openshift
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 datacenters or private cloud.
OpenShift Development Environment
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.
Choosing a RHEL Web Hosting Plan
Because it’s already been purchased for the server, RHEL won’t generally add to your monthly hosting fees.
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.
Check with your host before signing on the dotted line.
What to Look for in a Red Hat Linux Hosting Plan?
Even if RHEL is already installed on the server you still may want to purchase your own version of the software, if only for access to the dedicated Linux support staff.
Whether or not it’s already installed will depend upon the hosting environment you choose. With a dedicated host, you may have a blank slate that gives you the freedom to install your own OS.
With other managed Linux hosts there may already be an OS in place and you’ll have to ask to install RHEL.
That being said there are some features you’ll want to look for in your Linux server.
Choice of Linux distribution
Oracle, MySQL, or PostreSQL database servers
Memory (1 GB Ram minimum)
Traffic and server monitoring
Security features: virus and malware scans, server firewalls
My Choices: The Top Three Red Hat Enterprise Linux Hosts
Red Hat Enterprise Linux is widely supported in the web hosting industry, but there are several hosts that stand out for RHEL support.
If you’re looking for a VPS plan that offers you complete control over your server environment, then consider the StartLogic VPS plan.
This plan offers you your choice of Linux OS to install, along with massive amounts of disk space and bandwidth.
Plus, it’s equipped with additional features like, MySQL 5 and Perl support, up to ten hosted domains, and file manager and FTP access.
Network Solutions offers a completely customizable VPS plan that’s a great choice for your Linux Red Hat setup.
With complete root access you’ll have total control over your applications and choice of OS, including Linux. You’ll also get high performance features like 1 GB of guaranteed RAM, flexible storage space, and bundled server virtualization features.
This plan can be customized to your exact specifications, and you get root access, so you can completely customize your server environment as you see fit. Plus, this server environment is equipped with 24/7 network and performance monitoring to ensure you’re getting the most out of your server.
The Linux shared hosting plan includes Red Hat and is also equipped with additional features like daily data backups, a network firewall, FTP access, and a 100% network uptime guarantee. It’s by far the cheapest option out of the hosts highlighted here.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a distribution targeted at commercial enterprise-level users.
Why should I use Red Hat?
Red Hat’s business model revolves around support rather than one-time software purchases which could make more sense for some organizations.
However, while Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is sometimes touted as a “free alternative” — you need to bear in mind that it simply has a different business model.
How is Red Hat different from alternatives like Fedora and CentOS?
Fedora is community driven and free, while Red Hat is a commercial release that generates revenue through long-term support.
CentOS is also based on Red Hat releases, but it’s a community project and is therefore free. However, there is no professional support, although CentOS has a big and dynamic community.
Will Red Hat hosting cost me extra? Will I need to pay for additional features?
Red Hat is a commercial release, so if you need a standalone license or subscription, you will have to pay. On shared hosting plans, you will use the host’s Red Hat, so you won’t have to worry about paying — at least directly.
How many people use Red Hat?
Red Hat dominates the paid Linux market. Research indicates it commands a two-third share of the market. The enterprise market is still dominated by Microsoft, but Red Hat Enterprise Linux has twice the market share of all other Linux distributions combined.
Isn’t CentOS basically the same as RHEL?
In some ways. CentOS is indeed based on Red Hat code, but there are a few significant differences. RHEL is certified by governments and can be deployed on more products. Since it’s a commercial product, it also has professional support, unlike CentOS.
Can I use cPanel on Red Hat Enterprise Linux? What about alternative control panels?
Yes. You can use cPanel and WHM on RHEL servers, as long as they meet the admittedly conservative hardware requirements. Most major control panels should have no trouble working in a Red Hat environment.
What programming languages are supported on RHEL?
Since you’re dealing with a Linux environment, Microsoft Windows specific languages are not supported. However, RHEL supports virtually all common programming and scripting languages that can run on Linux, including gcc/g++, Lisp, Ruby, PHP, Perl, Python and many others.
Are there any downsides to running Red Hat Enterprise Linux?
There aren’t any obvious disadvantages compared to other Linux distributions, at least not from a technical point of view.
However, RHEL is a commercial release, so you will have to pay for the privilege. If you feel comfortable with CentOS, and if you don’t feel the need for cutting edge support and the latest software releases, you could use it (or any of a number of alternatives).
Once again, it all depends on your needs and skills.
How good is Red Hat’s support?
Few would dispute that Red Hat offers the best support in the Linux universe, but whether or not you actually require that level of support is another question.
If you’re new to the industry and have a tight budget, the benefits of Red Hat support could be outweighed by the cost. It also depends on your skill set.
Is Red Hat used for web hosting?
Red Hat is widely used in the industry, especially by hosts specializing in enterprise hosting.
How do I install Red Hat on my server?
It depends on what sort of server you have. If you are interested in a shared hosting plan, then you can’t change the OS and must stick to the one provided by your host. This limitation might be the case with VPS hosting as well.
However, if you are setting up your own server, or installing RHEL on dedicated hardware, comprehensive documentation and guides are available online. If this is an issue for you, consult with your hosting company.
What about Microsoft support? What if I need MS SQL, or MS Access?
Red Hat cannot support proprietary Microsoft technologies, standards, and languages. In case you absolutely need Microsoft services, you have no choice but to get a Windows server.
About Kevin Wood
Kevin got his start as a web developer. Now he spends his time as a technical writer and poet. His main interests are technology and human potential. When he's not diving headfirst into technical topics, you can find him scrawling lines of poetry and getting lost in the woods.
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Who's Best for Red Hat Hosting?
We think Network Solutions is the best choice for Red Hat.