A server operating system is a type of OS that is used to manage and control the operations of a server computer. It is also known as a network operating system (NOS). The OS provides the necessary functions that allow the server computer to manage files, applications, security, devices, and users within a network. They operate in a server-client architecture. This is where we have a central computer that serves and controls the operations of all other devices on the network.
The main features of server operating systems provide advanced security, network capabilities, virtualization, and application and user management. Examples of server operating systems are Linux, Windows, Unix FreeBSD, and Red Hat among others discussed in the article.
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Types of server or network operating system (NOS)
There are many examples of server or NOS operating systems that are currently being used on the market. They are developed and distributed by different vendors; some are designed for specific functions. The NOS are installed in servers and given different roles which give the different types of server computers. For the server operating systems, these are the most common.
- Windows Server: This is a popular choice for businesses, as it is compatible with a wide range of software and hardware. It is available in several different versions, including Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2019, and Windows Server 2022. Windows server operating system can be used for small businesses to international organizations with multiple branches in the world. Most operations on Windows servers use GUI but still, the user can decide to use command-based or the shell to give commands.
- Linux server OS: This is an open-source operating system that is popular for servers due to its stability and security. For better resource utilization most Linux server distributions are command based. There are many Linux-distributed NOS some of which are free for use while others you pay for.
- Ubuntu server: it is the most common among Linux servers. The server is a free version that users can download on the internet and start using. The most common role that they are used for is to act as web servers.
- CentOS: it offers enterprise-level capability almost similar to Red Hat OS. Compared to Ubuntu it is more advanced in terms of what it can handle but not as RHEL.
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL): it is designed and optimized for enterprise-level operations.RHEL is mostly used in data centers and for cloud hosting services for big organizations. It has more advanced features that are not in Ubuntu or CentOS. Some versions of RHEL are commercially distributed.
- Unix: This is a multi-user operating system that is commonly used on servers in enterprise environments. They can be implemented in all kinds of server-client models of networks. They are commercially distributed. Some examples of Unix operating systems include Solaris, AIX, and HP-UX.
- macOS server: This is the operating system that was used on Apple’s Mac computers as a server. However, the company discontinued the distribution in April 2022 as they note on their apple website. This means they are no longer in the market.
- FreeBSD: it is open source and based on Unix-like OS. FreeBSD is mostly used as a web server, and firewall among other network-related operations.
Features of server operating system
Server operating systems typically have a number of features and characteristics that enable them to support the needs of servers in a business or enterprise environment. These characteristics are added to those on the desktop operating systems. Some of the key features of server operating systems include:
- Multi-user support: one of the main functions of a server is to allow multiple user access simultaneously. This ensures that all the clients and applications that are making a request to the server are not denied access to the server.
- Networking capabilities: in a server-client network server is the center of operation and hence should have more network capabilities than normal desktop computers. They support different networking features such as web hosting, support TCP/IP protocols and other protocols, and DNS management among others.
- Advanced security features: server should be the most secure resource in an organization’s digital asset. NOS has security features such as user authentication, firewall, encryption of data, and audit trails among other advanced security features.
- Virtualization capabilities: to fully utilize hardware resources server OS supports the creation of multiple virtual machines. This help reduces the cost of buying extra hardware by optimizing utilizations of the one available.
- Scalability for the future: most servers are designed in a way that they start supporting a few users and operations and grow depending on the user’s needs and requirements. This means even when the organization grows the capacity of the NOS does not limit it.
- Advanced user management and monitoring tools: Server operating systems often include a range of tools that can be used to manage and monitor the server, such as task scheduling, event logging, and system performance monitoring. This makes central management simple and efficient.
Advantages of a server OS
- Support for a large number of users: Server operating systems are designed to support a large number of users simultaneously, which makes them ideal for use in a business or enterprise setting.
- Server operating systems have advanced security features: Server operating systems often come with advanced security features, such as built-in firewalls and security protocols, to protect the server and its data from external threats.
- Compared to a normal PC operating system it is designed to be stable and reliable, with features such as automatic updates, error-checking, and reporting, to ensure smooth operation.
- Server operating systems are optimized for managing server resources, such as main memory, storage, and processing power, to ensure that all users have access to the resources they need. They also manage network printers, users, and group policies among other resources.
Disadvantages of a server operating system
- Server operating systems are generally more expensive compared to desktop operating systems.
- It requires a technical system administrator to manage the system where NOS is used. This means extra expenses for the organization.
- They are more complex to set, use, and manage than the standard desktop OS. This means not everybody who can use it
- This software requires more maintenance to keep them working optimally. They require regular security updates to ensure they are top-notch and to avoid hacking and other intrusions.
- To have your own physical server computer to install the operating system you will need to establish a server room where they will reside.