Why Linux web hosting has become so affordable and popular

At some point while researching web hosting companies, you will most likely have observed the differentiation in services based on the type of operating system including Windows and Linux.   Upon further review, a difference is pricing is generally noticeable with Linux hosting in most cases being remarkably cheaper than its Windows counterpart.

THE RISE OF LINUX

Key reasons for these differentials in both pricing and marketing hark back to the invention of Linux by Linus Torvalds after he created the Linux kernel free for the world to use.    This kick started a chain reaction which led thousands upon thousands of developers and programmers to contribute their own ideas and enhancements to the original kernel, which made Linux stronger, more powerful and accessible to world of users, including web hosting companies.

According to How Stuff Works, Linux has a dedicated following for these reasons:

  • People who already know UNIX and want to run it on PC-type hardware
  • People who want to experiment with operating system principles
  • People who need or want a great deal of control over their operating system
  • People who have personal problems with Microsoft

It must be conceded, however, that Linux generally does have a steeper learning curve than Windows but over time it offers more flexibility, power and configuration options. Web hosting companies have further streamlined its capabilities inside massive datacenters which most likely power your website(s).

They have used their engineering capabilities to hide the complexity and offer a centralized dashboard, usually cPanel, which allows you to direct your shared hosting, dedicated hosting or reseller hosting package.

This means website customers benefit from the full power and scalability of Linux platforms without having to deal with much of the complexity that comes with an open-source platform.  And, since Linux is by nature free, it means web hosting companies can keep costs low for end users even as they add additional features and functionality.

At some point many customers wish to find out more about how Linux works and what it is capable of. For instance, many are confused by the default directory structure of Linux which uses strange sounding names such as /bin  /etc / and /srv.

A recent article by Geek Stuff gives you a helicopter view of the innards of the Linux directory system without bombarding you with too much technical jargon.

For instance, Ramesh Natarajan explains that every single file and directory in Linux starts from the root directory and only root users have write privilege under this directory. This is the starting point for understanding why certain programs are stored under certain directories.

As you get more advanced with your website requirements you may even start pursuing more advanced automation techniques on the web server, including CRON jobs which are essentially a Unix-like schedule commands.

Most of the time, however, you will be using one-click installers from Softaculous to launch new programs including WordPress and Joomla. You will also have the ability to easily deploy e-commerce shopping carts such as ZenCart and osCommerce.

This is what makes Linux such a powerful platform: It can appeal to both programmers and power users.   There is a dynamic relationship between the two, which is highly rewarding as your online requirements become more sophisticated.

THE LURE OF APACHE

If Linux is the body or organism that powers websites on affordable hosting packages, then Apache is the human heart or “web server” which pumps blood out into the Internet.    Its full name is Apache HTTP Server, which has played a critical role in the development of the World Wide Web.

As the Midphase Knowledge Base (A wonderful resource by the way!) notes, Apache was the first viable alternative to the Netscape Communications Corporation web server (currently known as Sun Java System Web Server), and has since evolved to rival other Unix-based web servers in terms of functionality and performance. Since April 1996 Apache has been the most popular HTTP server on the World Wide Web.

Engineering teams run the mod_security module to filter our malicious requests through the web server to protect server infrastructure and client websites.

The Apache web server helps route requests made from a web browser to your website.  It’s an irreplaceable tool used across shared hosting, dedicated hosting and reseller hosting packages.

THE POWER OF PHP

While web designers and web developers are free to use any programming or scripting language they choose, dependent on whether they sign up for Windows or Linux hosting, PHP is considered the go-to language on Linux hosting platforms.

Regarded as a scripting language or lightly modeled programming language it is uniquely suited towards web development.  HTML 4 and HTML 5 can be embedded within PHP to craft powerful web applications that run on the Apache web server.  Thus, Apache accepts a PHP program and spits out HTML back to the client browser. This is known as a dynamic application and is one of the hallmarks of Web 2.0.

All of our newer servers on Midphase infrastructure are running the latest versions of PHP that is continuously updated to include more features and exhibit stronger security.

THE ELEGANCE OF MYSQL

 

If databases seem foreign to you, then maybe WordPress does not?   The reason we bring up this point is because most modern blogging systems including WordPress are actually powered by a MySQL database.  PHP can be used to dynamically customize a WordPress database and add, modify or delete information stored in MySQL.

A database is nothing more than a virtual filing system that keeps track of the words your write or the images you associate with your blogs.  It is an indispensable item when dealing with large amounts of data.

THE DOMINANCE OF LAMP

All the technologies mentioned above join together in a web development paradigm called LAMP: Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP.  This operating model is delivered to you in the form of shared hosting, dedicated servers and reseller packages on Midphase hosting infrastructure.

Without Linux, this model generally falls apart. Together they offer massive cost savings for leading hosting providers and allow them to constantly innovate their suite of packages. It also means you see hosting prices approaching zero dollars, although it’s unlikely to ever fall that far.

More proprietary operating systems such as Windows required paid programmers to develop and insulate code from prying eyes. This makes it a much more expensive proposition which results in higher prices for customers. This does not mean that Windows hosting does not have its benefits, but there is a general consensus that Linux hosting overall offers the best value for money on the World Wide Web.

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5 Responses to “Why Linux web hosting has become so affordable and popular”

  1. More proprietary operating systems such as Windows required paid programmers to develop and insulate code from prying eyes. This makes it a much more expensive proposition which results in higher prices for customers. This does not mean that Windows hosting does not have its benefits, but there is a general consensus that Linux hosting overall offers the best value for money on the World Wide Web.

  2. Good thoughts. There are definitely more Linux developers available, most likely because they are self-taught while messing around with the open platforms.

  3. I prefer Linux over Windows anytime. Because of its price and power, a LAMP setup is what I suggest to all of my clients. Thanks for the read.

  4. @Nathan, thanks for the comment. We definitely do more with our Linux side of the business although Windows has a good place for those who need it’s functionality.

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