A Linux distro for an email server is a perfect operating system for a business or any other kind of organization. Using it effectively will require the right skills, knowledge, and expertise, however. So what is the right distro for the job?
When deciding the best distro for the server, you need to consider its cost, performance, stability, features, as well as the size of your organization. In addition, there are third-party applications to evaluate and consider.
In this article, we will try to address that question by presenting a list of the nine best Linux distros for email servers. Our choices are based on the following criteria: installation, ease of use, security, reliability, stability, and affordability.
1. Ubuntu Server
Mark Shuttleworth created Ubuntu Linux on 20th October 2004. It’s also called “distribution” because it comes ready to use and features the latest software. Ubuntu Linux is best for those who have limited technical skills. The easy-to-use interface and availability of many applications suited for multimedia and gaming are a couple more reasons to start using Ubuntu on your server’s OS.
Ubuntu Linux is an excellent choice for those who want stability in their email server. That’s because this distro is stable, secure, and reliable. It also allows you to customize and install software easily.
This Linux distro includes the most popular freeware and shareware. Most of the applications in Ubuntu are free, although some of them require a license key to run.
It comes with a lot of pre-installed software, including Apache 2, BIND, Dovecot, and more. What’s more, there are more than 20,000 software packages that you can install on Ubuntu Linux with the help of its Package Installer.
- Users can encrypt their data.
- Easy to use.
- Low resource usage.
- Excellent performance and stability.
- User-friendly interface.
- Good choice for non-technical users
- High system requirements are needed to run recent versions of Ubuntu on x86-based servers and desktops.
- Not suitable for virtualization environments because it does not support Xen or KVM, which can negatively affect performance on the server and threaten stability.
2. Rocky Linux
This is an open-source Linux distro that makes it easier for beginners to master server administration as well as web hosting. It is based on the LAMP stack – Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. It’s been designed explicitly for Ubuntu and Debian, but it can be installed on all three major server operating systems.
This distro has a fairly large number of features for a beginner-level Linux operating system. It comes with configuration tools for compiling a kernel manually or automatically. It also comes with a fully featured package manager, which has a number of applications, including Apache, MySQL, and PHP.
In addition, Rocky comes with automated tools to help with installing new packages, monitoring logs, configuration changes, and system performance monitoring. What’s more, this distro has support for different languages, such as Python and Perl.
- Easy to install.
- Easy to configure and manage.
- Many features, such as Business web servers, web-based applications, scripting, and web interfaces.
- Compatible with most LAMP stacks.
- Automatic installation (APT) using your system’s package manager (e.g., Synaptic).
- Many add-on packages.
- Not very stable or secure.
- Some features may not be compatible with your hardware configuration and server operating system (OS) type.
3. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)
This is the most popular Linux distro, used for both servers and desktops. Red Hat Enterprise Linux was started in 2002 and became quite popular among individuals, businesses, governments, and military organizations. It is a stable, secure, reliable, and scalable operating system.
It has full support for virtualization, which results in increased flexibility. This OS also has the best security features; it uses SELinux to control what an application can do to ensure that there are no malicious attacks on your data.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux is also known for its reliability. You can expect it to run smoothly for the entire three-year support period if properly configured and maintained. It is a flexible system that can be used for a wide range of applications, such as hosting services, databases, mail servers, etc.
According to Red Hat‘s definition of standardization and certification, RHEL is the most standard and certified Linux distro on the market today. In fact, it’s compatible with other major OSes, including Windows and Mac OS X.
- Reliability and stability.
- Full virtualization support.
- Newbies and beginners may find this OS hard to use at first, particularly when it comes to managing users, groups, servers, and services. Things may get a bit confusing for those who are new to Linux.
4. Linux Mint
For most people, Linux Mint is the most popular Linux distro on the market. This could be because it’s very easy to install and use. Linux Mint is a Debian-based Linux distro developed by Alberto Ruiz Picornell, Adrian Brady, and Peter P Polakovič to keep it as close as possible to the original Ubuntu packages.
Linux Mint is an excellent choice for small business owners and individual users. It has all the features you need to make it a good email server, including Webmin, an interface tool to manage your server remotely.
With Linux Mint, you will also get a dashboard for your server. This dashboard allows you to monitor system information in real-time and to stay updated about email server activity. It’s an excellent feature that helps you ensure everything is running properly.
The installation of this distro is very easy because it uses the same method as Ubuntu. Lastly, the security of this distro is very good. That’s because every package it installs includes all the latest security updates.
It also provides accessibility to Ubuntu repositories and various tools, so administrators can install new packages easily without having to wait for them to be approved by Canonical.
- It’s one of the most stable distros available.
- The installation is very easy to perform.
- It’s very secure.
- It comes with a dashboard that allows administrators to manage and monitor the server’s activity.
- It allows the installation of third-party software.
- Doesn’t have as much power as Ubuntu or CentOS.
- It’s not very user-friendly.
- Problems with upgrading the package.
5. Elementary OS
This distro is a ‘pure’ Linux operating system based on Ubuntu LTS. It contains free and open-source software, emphasizing ease of use and portability. Based on the popular Ubuntu Server edition, elementary OS is redesigned to work exclusively on computers running i686 and less capable hardware. That’s why it’s a complete operating system that can be used as a standalone OS.
When it comes to your email server, elementary OS’s main advantage is that it is designed to work on less powerful and older hardware, making it ideal for low-end, budget, and entry-level servers. You can set it up without any hassles by downloading the ISO from the website and installing it there.
Another good thing about this distro is that it contains no proprietary software. It is also free from the Microsoft shackles, which might be a plus for some people. The most likely reason you would want to consider elementary OS Linux Distro is its cost-effectiveness.
You can also choose to install it on older hardware, which is good news for people that are on a tight budget. The developers have done an excellent job with it and have tried to address all the issues that can arise with an operating system. What’s more, the design of the distro is new, easy, and intuitive.
- Affordable, cost-effective, and low-end.
- No proprietary software, ensuring freedom of use.
- Based on Ubuntu LTS (Long Term Stable), making it stable.
- Complete Operating System which can be used as a standalone OS.
- The design is new and easy to use, making it very user-friendly.
- Limited hardware support (only i686 and less capable hardware).
- Hardware compatibility issues with drivers.
- Customization is limited in some aspects.
6. Zorin OS
This distro is a fast, user-friendly, and fully-featured operating system designed for Windows users. Based on Ubuntu Linux, this distro can be run from a USB drive without modifying the computer’s current operating system.
It’s a good option because of its impressive performance, information security features, and ease of use. In addition, the operating system makes use of the Openbox window manager. And so, it’s a fast, lightweight, and user-friendly desktop environment.
The Zorin OS Linux distro is a good choice for both users who don’t want to learn the Linux basics and those who prefer an intuitive operating system. Here, you are able to switch between different distributions using the Software Centre application from within the distro itself. You can also install and upgrade new software using it.
One of the most important features of this distro is the fact that it comes with a backup program. That way, you can back up your mail and settings anytime. The software also has a simple and intuitive interface, so you will be able to use it very efficiently.
- Ease of use.
- Backup program.
- Intuitive installation.
- Extremely lightweight.
- Fast and user-friendly.
- Highly stable and secure.
- The distro lacks some important applications.
- The desktop interface is not available in all languages.
- Lacks some important pre-installed software.
This is a lightweight and easy-to-use Linux distro for email servers. Updated regularly, Lubuntu is a perfect option for everyday users. It’s based on the latest Ubuntu releases, which means that it’s stable and reliable, offering great performance and speed. It also has the same applications as Ubuntu (LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, etc.).
In addition, Lubuntu has a simple configuration interface. This makes it a great choice for beginners. With its simple but elegant interface, you can easily find your way around the operating system. The distro is based on the LXDE desktop environment and Linux Kernel.
Importantly, Lubuntu offers a personal, friendly, and responsive distro for email servers. With a vast range of software available, your organization will be able to use it for all its needs without much hassle. In addition, it has many additional features that make it attractive and easy to use. What’s more, it uses the LTS (Long Term Support) version, which is updated regularly. This means you’ll be able to get timely security updates as well as bug fixes.
Like any other Ubuntu-based Linux distro, Lubuntu comes with a wide range of applications to meet your needs. It includes an office suite (LibreOffice), email client (Thunderbird), web browser (Firefox), and software development tools (Aptitude). In addition to these standard tools, it also has some others specially designed for lightweight desktop environments.
- Offers better performance, speed, and stability than other lightweight Linux distros.
- It’s based on Ubuntu, so you’ll get regular updates and security patches.
- There are a lot of additional features to choose from in the official repository, including a login manager.
- Its web apps are not as good as other distros’. For example, its Firefox is comparable to Debian’s IceWeasel Firefox.
- Unlike other popular Linux distros, Lubuntu has no support for other desktops (KDE, XFCE, LXQT).
8. Linux Lite
This is a minimal Linux that provides users with essential features and utilities. It is designed to bring desktop culture to the server, making it easier for the user to navigate and use. What’s more, Linux Lite is lightweight and easy to use, which makes it ideal for multi-user environments with limited resources.
It takes only 2 GB RAM or less while being able to run on older computers as well. It also comes with many features, like support for 3D graphics cards and automatic updates through the Internet. The default login is “root,” which allows you to change passwords later on.
A popular feature of Linux Lite is its integrated web browser, which allows you to access your email account without installing additional plugins or software. It’s also a very stable Linux distro with a bug-free reputation.
It can run on older PCs, and disk failures are rare. In addition, Linux Lite has a simple and easy desktop, and it comes with a default tool for managing your email accounts. Linux Lite’s user interface is also responsive and quite easy to navigate.
It comes with a lightweight KDE desktop and a few tools, like OpenOffice, Pidgin (for instant messaging), and Firefox (for web browsing). It has strong security features, such as support for the SELinux security policy, in-built firewalling, Linux kernel security patches, and regular security updates through the Internet. These features make Linux Lite secure enough to use for an email server.
- Easy to use.
- Stable and secure.
- Comes with pre-installed applications.
- It has a Live CD, which can be installed or booted from.
- Small RAM.
- Administration tools are limited.
- The KDE desktop is heavy on memory and CPU.
AntiX Linux is a distro for low-end netbooks. It is fast and efficient, with a few tools required for an email server. It comes in two flavors: a full system with access to the live desktop and a base system that runs from a hard disk without any desktop.
AntiX has the ability to run most of the common tasks you need in a server. It can also serve as a web server and has Squid caching for secure web browsing. Other features include Apache and Dovecot for web applications, Postfix for email delivery, MySQL, GCC compiler suite, and many more.
AntiX lacks some of the features found in other distros for email servers. But it is still a good choice for a low-end server. Its installation process is simple, as it utilizes the live CD environment to run all the applications from memory. So, you don’t have to install AntiX Linux if you just want to use it as a mail server. You just need to ensure that you put all applications and services on the same partition.
- It is a small, fast and efficient distro.
- Very stable.
- It has a great forum community with a lot of helpful and expert users.
- AntiX Linux has a very old installation process compared to other distros.
- It needs a lot of support from the user if it’s to be used for email servers.
How to Pick the Best Linux Distro for Email Server: A Step-by-Step Guide
Here are some things to consider when picking the right Linux distro for your email server.
Level of Expertise
Obviously, the operating system running on your email server should be well-known. However, that is not enough to guarantee the effectiveness of your email server. You should also know some of the important features of emails and server administration. Otherwise, you will greatly complicate things.
An operating system’s design is important. Most people prefer a classic white interface with blue windows and office icons. If you have this type of interface, then it is easy to identify and find everything you want.
There are many different Linux distros for email servers. Each one of them has its own function, and they can all be used to produce a successful email server. So pick the right one that matches your needs.
The performance of a Linux distro is the key to its success. Without good performance, it is impossible to maintain good service levels and meet client needs.
Security is one of the most important factors when running an email server. It should come preinstalled with multiple security features. You should also install security updates frequently to ensure your server is always protected.
Linux Hardware Requirements
A good Linux distro for an email server requires good hardware configuration to work effectively. If the hardware is not high-end, it will struggle with multiple requests made simultaneously.
Ease of Installation
Installing the operating system on a server is always quite complicated. So you should pick a distro that has been designed to be easy to install. Otherwise, you may face many problems during the process.
Community or Commercial Support
Before installing the operating system on your email server, you should at least have a clear idea of who is going to support it in the future. This will reduce the risk of getting stuck with a bad support company.
Flexibility and Customizability
If you are going to be running an email server, then it is very likely that you will develop new features and customizations. So, being able to customize your Linux distro for email servers must be your highest priority.