What is everyone's favorite os on their server and why? It seems to be there is a constant argument about which os is the best for serving sites/applications.
My personal favorite would be Debian Linux. I've been using it since around 2000 back when redhat variants had terrible package management and the defacto response to "What distro is the best?" was Slackware. Debian brought about the apt/dpkg tools which introduced a much easier to maintain distribution. After the release of apt most all other operating systems followed suit with their own package manager. At this time Linux was still very user-unfriendly and BSD was easier to maintain.
While many Linux distributions have adopted package management and arguably some are more advanced than apt I still prefer Debian. Unlike a lot of the distributions Debian maintains a smaller set of forks which are much easier to understand the differences and ensure your system won't implode due to a poorly tested package that was pushed out. Some of the other distributions in my opinion keep their repositories too bleeding-edge which is useful for people who use software that requires the latest packages but if your programs don't rely on such technology using bleeding edge versions can end up hurting you in the end.
I also am a fan because I met Ian Murdock while attending Purdue at a local PLUG meeting. He's pretty awesome. So how about you? Windows fan? BSD fan? Let's hear it.
I started off my hosting ventures with cPanel years ago... my first server was RHE, I think 7 or 9, can't quite remember. From there we ended up on CentOS 4 and have stuck with CentOS since. I found it easy to use and having tons of tutorials \ information available on Google when troubleshooting was a plus. Now that we offer VPS services I've had some experience with at least the virtualized environments of Debian, Ubuntu, and a few others... I still like my CentOS though
I've never got into the custom kernel stuff or the really advanced features of linux so my experience with it has just been from the intermediate level, maybe some of the others are better for advanced users?
I must be the smart alecky one and say "the one that gets the job done" but in all seriousness My opinions are:
-Windows ONLY if you need ASP, MSSQL or some other windows inclusive technology. I'm not really a fan of the logging, how it works out of the box or how the permissions work. Seem to be very tempermental.
-CPanel/WHM for shared hosting boxes. Throw it on CentOS or Cloud Linux if you're picky with your resources.
-For virtualization boxes CentOS all the way. Easy to set up good support etc. What to use is another choice entirely.
-For single domain boxes things get a LOT more hazy in my opinion. If the admin is newish CentOS/WHM is still a good combination. If you've got experience, base CentOS or Slackware if you're going to be heavily customizing anyways. It frees you of the chains RPM or apt have because you can use home built software. On the down side getting things set up if you need to make another one or if there's a failure can be hairy.
-For small scale stuff (think home built appliances etc.) Slackware without a doubt. It's just so easy to chop down to what you need and little to nothing of what you don't.