Although progress has been made in recent years towards the overall development of the web hosting industry has led Linux and Windows hosting to bring much closer to each other, the reality is that today there is still a lot to be considered for webmasters, when selecting the type of web hosting to use.
Both Windows and Linux will workFor those who are unfamiliar with Windows and/or Linux, it's fair that I give some of the basics. Experts or people who just do not care, they can skip right now.
In many ways, Linux and Windows are very similar. When used for web hosting and services, it will interact just fine with any home computer, whether they are running Windows, Linux, Apple OS X, or just about anything else.
Despite this, some fundamental differences can not be ignored. Windows and all of its major softwares are developed by one company (Microsoft), almost all of which depend on a common core (or 'kernel'). This type of interdependence of the various parts of the server is called a "monolithic" design. In household Windows computers, examples of this kind of approach can be seen in Windows Media Player and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Windows Server normally runs web page serving software known as IIS, which is actually integrated right into Windows too. Though alternative software for this is standard Linux Apache server and it is also available for Windows administrators, it is very unusual that it is never used.
Here, Linux is very different. Linux was developed entirely in what is called an open-source community. Any talented programmer can take an existing Linux source code and try to improve it in some way. This team-oriented approach has created a wonderful addition to the monopoly Microsoft's approach towards the creation of the operating system which is composed of parts that are freely independent of one another, and a "modular" design to withstand the monolithic design.
Linux is released offering the best conditions for the development of open-source software, such as PHP and Ruby on Rails. Databases on Linux usually use MySQL or PostgresSQL. Most of the existing applications which are open source, seem to come better suited for Linux.
Windows is released offering the best conditions for ASP and other Microsoft-proprietary applications such as Microsoft Exchange. The database commonly used in Windows Server is MySQL.
Operating Systems and SecurityWindows Vs Linux security debate is very old. One universal truth is- nothing is guaranteed safe for your computer. There are some things that we can not change, such as unskilled server administrators, brute force password crackers, unsecured PHP or ASP scripts, social engineering risks in a large company, and much more. In the end, these variables are significantly superior to the security risks that exist in any operating system.
The most common argument against the security of Windows is that due to its monolithic structure (mentioned above), it is easier for hackers to take control of the entire server. For example, if loophole in the safety is be found in the Web server IIS, it could potentially be used to the detriment of the entire Windows server, and IIS is deeply intertwined with the core of Windows. This is for the same reason that the external browsers like Mozilla FireFox are generally regarded as safe for a Windows PC, being more complex than Microsoft Internet Explorer.
The most common argument against the security of Linux is exactly the biggest argument in favor of the security of Linux, which is "completely open source operating system". Linux has both the largest, best-educated group of security, and logically the most educated community of hackers, too. And thus it is very very less vulnerable to security breaches.