Are you looking for a free Linux server for your small business? Then you stumble upon the right place. Although Linux servers are open source and come free of cost still they are the most powerful servers in every aspect whether you need to create your own cloud, host web server, or something more. Even big businesses like Google, Facebook, and Amazon use the Linux server to power their customer’s needs. The best thing about the Linux small business server is that they can easily run on modest hardware with stability, and reliability and can upscale in the future according to growing needs.
Using Linux, the SMEs will not only get the server OS free of cost but also have the complete range of server functionality, security, and networking. Some of them are designed with a great user interface so that less experienced IT administrators can easily understand, whereas, some are for greater control and designed for advanced IT staff.
So, here we are with a list of the best general-purpose Linux servers for your small businesses.
All-in-one Linux server for small businesses and Enterprises
NethServer is an open-source and free-to-download CentOS-based Linux distribution for servers. It has a modular design like ClearOS and can use as a web server, firewall, mail server, filter, web filter, IPS/IDS or VPN server, or more… It is designed for small offices and medium enterprises and has a web-based user interface. To extend the server functionality there are several pre-configured modules that can be disabled or enabled with one click. You can download this Linux small business server and can install it on any commodity hardware.
NethServer Linux server Features:
- Support by community
- Full Data Backup
- Manual upgrade
- Stateful Inspection
- Advanced Firewall Rules, Port Forward, Web Proxy
- Transparent Proxy HTTPS
- OpenSource URL Filter and Cloud-based URL Filter
- SMTP Proxy
- Cloud Backup and Cloud Configuration Backup
- LAMP Software and Print Server
- Bandwidth Monitor
- Mail Server
- Fax Web Client
- File Server
- FTP Server
- KVM and KVM Web Interface
- And More…
ClearOS is a CentOS-based Linux operating system and a browser-based platform. It comes with an integrated network, gateway, and server function with minimal deploying complexities. It has an inbuilt firewall, Bandwidth management, content filter, file servers, VPN server, intrusion detection, domain controller, mail server, and much more… It features more than 25+ integrated Open Source projects. It also offers media server apps such as Plex server and Serviio Media Server. (Also See Best Open source Media server software).
The ClearOs is available in four versions: ClearOS community (free to download and use), ClearOS Home, ClearOS business, and ClearOS Hosted. The hosted on is for those SMEs who don’t want to spend money on costly server hardware. It also offers ClearOS Marketplace Apps place from where you can install the free apps to extend the server functionality.
ClearOS Linux Small Business Server Key Features:
- Antimalware rules
- Content filter blacklists
- Dropbox sync
- Custom Firewall
- DNS server
- Gateway Antiphishing
- Intrusion Detection System
- Back up and Restore
- Bandwidth viewer
- Smart Monitor
- And more…
Zentyal Linux Small Business Server
Zentyal Server (download) is another great all-in-one Linux server available in two versions developer edition which is free to download and use and another is the commercial version. You can use the developer or community edition for small and medium businesses. It is based on Ubuntu and natively supports the MS Exchange protocols and Active Directory support which allows you to join Microsoft clients to a domain and manage them easily.
Zentyal Linux Small Business Server Features:
- Native MS Exchange protocols and Active Directory support
- Calendars and contacts
- Mobile device email sync
- IMAP, POP, SMTP, CalDAV, and CardDAV support
- Central domain and directory management
- Single Sign-On (SSO) authentication
- Web-based UI
- Multiple virtual mail domains
- DNS Server, DHCP Server, and NTP Server
- Network configuration, Routing, Gateway, Firewall, HTTP Proxy, WAN failover, and Traffic balance
- And More…
Koozali SME Server
The Koozali is also a Centos-based Linux server and as Centos based you will get the stability and common server functionalities out of the box. SME Server is an Open Source Linux Server distribution web-based interface that allows it to access from any web browser on the internal network. It is password protected and can access remotely via SSH or PPTP. The server is set to automatic updates and gets security updates from Redhat/Centos.
By using this server for small offices you need at least 2 cores min 2GHz with PAE support, 4GB of RAM, and 30GB + required space to store data.
- Qmail mail server
- Supports extensions
- IMAP, POP3, and SMTP protocols
- Firewall for Intrusion Detection
- Directory Services
- Raid and Backup
- Automatic Updates
- Samba file and printer sharing
Other Best Enterprise Linux-Based Server Distribution OS
Above mentioned all-in-one, Linux small business servers come with lots of pre-installed server applications such as web servers, firewalls, native Microsoft AD support, Media servers, Mail server, File server, Intrusion Detection Systems, and more…
But if you want to install and use a Linux server for some particular task and don’t need anything else then you can use the best Linux servers given below. The all-in-one- Linux servers for small businesses given above are also based on one of the servers given below.
These Linux servers can install and use with minimal packages or as full-fledged GUI servers. All applications and features mentioned in the above-given server list can also be installed in these too, but manually one by one.
Both Ubuntu Server and desktop are the most popular Linux operating systems. It is Debian based server and simple to install due to its excellent hardware driver discovery and support. And comes with great commercial support.
Its ease of usage, excellent community and wide range of hardware support make it an idle choice for Small to larger businesses to use as a business Linux Server.
Apart from the server edition, Ubuntu also offers various versions of desktops such as Xubuntu, Edubuntu, Mythbuntu, and Lubuntu. The good thing is that software repositories are the same for all and also they are compatible with each other. It is also the best Linux server os for beginners.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Red Hat is the most stable and enterprise-class open-source Linux server-powered world’s top companies’ server hardware.
Grown as a small company and now becomes a giant one in the data center world. Redhat is Fedora driven and offers stability and high-quality commercial support. RHEL features a file system that can scale up to 500 terabytes and supports Docker containers also called Linux containers.
The Linux containers allow operating-system-level virtualization. The commercial version is paid while the development version of RedHat is free to download so that beginners or developers can develop their Linux skills.
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) is another stable open-source server Linux distro based on OpenSUSE. It also can consider the best alternative to RehHat due to its leading-edge features and support. It features Linux containers (to build, deploy, and manage applications), Full System Rollback, skip service packs functionality, Open vSwitch with DPDK (Data Plane Development Kit) support, ARM AArch64 and Raspberry Pi support (See: Best Linux OS for Raspberry Pi), Salt -Advanced Systems Management module, Full support for KIWI and more…
Almalinux or Rocky Linux
Almalinux or Rocky Linux are Redhat-based Linux server operating systems used by web hosting companies. They are a fork of Redhat but not paid like the RedHat commercial version. You can also leverage commercial support for it.
They are community-driven Linux servers a.k.a Community Enterprise Operating system. The community has driven these projects from the Red Hat code and removed all the trademarks to distribute freely. If you want RedHat-like functionality you can use them. Overall, they are the best RedHat alternative and also a reasonably beginner-friendly Linux server as they have a package manager.
As we know the REHL is based on Fedora then why not consider the Fedora server (download) itself?
Personally, I really like its Desktop version interface which is GNOME-based. Also, Fedora is maintained and run by the RedHat company which gives surety to getting regular updates. Fedora is available for both personal desktops and workstations.
The default Fedora server is headless server software, however, you can install the GUI manually. This Linux comes with enterprise-class features but can be used in a small business environment get hands-on with it if you know how to handle the advanced servers.
You can use any Linux server operating system given above to full fill your business need. It all depends upon your requirement and skills to handle the Linux server, which means how to perform the advanced-level tasks you want to perform. If you want pre-configured modules with a single click to disable or enable the functionalities then you can go for all-in-one servers, however, want to build something from scratch then the Ubuntu, REHL, SUSE, and other Linux operating system servers are there.
If you have time please let us know which Linux server operating system is your favorite and why?