Debian and Ubuntu Lead Among Linux Distributions for File Servers

Debian and Ubuntu have a healthy lead over Red Hat and CentOS among Linux distributions for file servers, according to a new survey of 100 SMBs (small and midsize businesses) conducted by cloud-storage provider Symform.

Some 67 percent of respondents relied on Debian distributions, versus 54 percent for Red Hat. Debian/Ubuntu users also stored more data, with 63 percent of those respondents reporting one terabyte or more on their systems; contrast that with the RedHat/CentOS crowd, of which 46 percent reported storing an equivalent amount of data on their file servers.

“We wanted to shed light on SMBs’ use of Linux for file servers, such as what Linux chains organizations use to store their data,” Margaret Dawson, vice president of product management and marketing at Symform, wrote in a June 25 statement. “As an added benefit, we are also getting this information directly from the businesses, since they typically manage their own file servers, whereas with Web servers, the Linux decision is often made by the hosting companies SMBs leverage for Web servers.”

No Backup

Symform’s survey also uncovered something fairly disturbing: a full 20 percent of respondents did nothing for local (i.e., on-premise) backup, while another 20 percent did nothing for secondary or remote data backup.

Among the remaining respondents, 37 percent used Rsync, which is free and open-source, for backup; another 13 percent chose some combination of Linux server, along with network attach storage (NAS) device or storage attach networking (SAN) appliance. The rest, according to Symform, relied on “commercial solutions” for backup.

Despite the hype surrounding the cloud, relatively few SMBs apparently rely on it for backup, with the majority instead opting for either a custom application or physical tape rotation to a separate location. “The survey results separately indicate that a large percentage would use a cloud backup solution if it supported the right Linux distribution and security requirements,” read the note accompanying Symform’s data.

Symform previously queried some 600 companies (in conjunction with StorageCraft, another cloud-services firm) and found a similar reluctance to embrace cloud-based storage, mostly due to costs. The majority of those companies surveyed were also SMBs; nearly two thirds reported that the costs associated with cloud storage and backup systems were a “problem.”

That earlier survey also found 50 percent of businesses relying on NAS devices as their primary data backup, followed by 42 percent relying on external hard drives, and 35 percent with cloud backup.


Image: Jakub Pavlinec/