Why linux dominates the world of hosting!

To the GREAT mismay of Microsoft and the windows camp, linux, and other ??nixes dominate the internet infrastructure, and specifically the hosting world.

While I have many windows machines, I mainly work on my Macs. They are virtually superior in every aspect in my opinion over any Windows products out there (Except for gaming :( ) I don’t use them for our hosting servers however because I recognize what they are currently the best for IMHO and that is a fantastic desktop experience (If you can handle a 2 week learning curve coming over from windows – Thats how long it took me to never want to run windows again on my desktop).

When it comes to web hosting, Linux is simply the better solution. Could we run windows as our backend and be a successful hosting company? Absolutely! Let me give a brief analogy. I drive a Ford F150 truck (I live in Utah and to the east of me is one house and then mountains, mountains, and more mountains and LOTS of slow). I also drive an SRT10 Dodge Viper (Bought before I ever started Bluehost, so no complaining about high hosting prices). The viper is fun! It cost a lot, and I can get from point A to point B. The truck can also get me from point A to point B, but I can haul a boat, my wife, and our 4 kids at the same time. It even gets better gas mileage. While I see the benefits of both vehicles, when it comes time to work the truck is what I drive. The same is true for linux.

Linux is the collaborative work of tens of thousands of individuals. The vast majority of it is written out of the goodness of peoples hearts. It shows in the superb quality and stability of our servers. We serve 10s of millions of page views every day. We have our hiccups, but comparitively our uptime is great, and the feature set is great.

We build a new server for Bluehost customers about every 38 hours. That would end up being a LOT of money if we were paying for an operating system like windows on every box. The ONLY piece of software that we pay any money for in the running of Bluehost is the Cpanel licenses for out control panel. Everything else on our servers is 100% free and open source software. I take that back, we pay $200 a year for our support ticketing system (Cerberus) :)

Most of our customers are windows users, but what is great about Bluehost is that even though we are using Linux, the presentation of our product is welcoming and beneficial to our user base. Most of our users think everything on Bluehost is on windows because it works so well with their windows software on their machine. That is how it should be. I also run linux as a desktop system on one of my home laptops. While I think the Mac is far superior, linux is quickly catching up. Its also nice to note that you won’t get ANY malware or viruses on our linux servers either (Or my Mac :) ). We’ll save all those gems for windows.

In spite of my opinion above, we are still very interested in offering windows based hosting. This would cater to customers that would like to choose. Choice is always good. We wanted to launch it sooner than later, but we want it to be great, not just good. We still have plans to do windows hosting, it just won’t launch in the next couple of months like we originally planned. For those that REALLY want it you’ll have to wait a little longer to get it from Bluehost. The wait will be worth it! I PROMISE!


Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

15 Responses to “Why linux dominates the world of hosting!”

  1. Bijan says:

    I agree with the fact that linux is a superior hosting operating system. Theres no doubt about that. What I disagree with, though, is the notion that Macintosh (Apple) is a truely better desktop operating system than Windows. As far as I’m concerned, as of now, Mac has only a few things going for it:
    Pretty-ness. I’m not gonna lie, Macs, and their operating systme look a lot more shique than their Microsoft counterparts
    Virus free: Macs are essentially virus free. But that won’t last long
    Image: People seem to hold Mac on a pedestal because it *used* to be THE solution for video and audio capturing/editing. If you ask most people what is better for video editing, Mac or PC, 90% will say Mac. Even people who hate Mac will say Mac, and this is one big thing that Mac has going for it, the fact that it still maintains that (false) image of a operating system that is genuinely better at capturing and editing media.
    Unfortunatly for you Mac lovers, one by one these advantages are being obliterated, if not by Microsoft, then by some other company that’ll make a program that works with windows. We already know that you can build a PC that will absolutely OWN a Mac box in looks, unless of course your Mac is running on a PC. Microsoft is coming out with their new Operating System, Vista, which is just as sturdy as XP, but with WAY more GUI- I’m just gonna pause here for a second, because god knows you did a double take on that one. Windows, STURDY? Surely I’m confused. First of all, I am definatly not confused, and second of all, don’t call me Shirley 😉 (refrence, anyone?). There are two reasons why Macs are (or were) hard to crash:
    First, they use ALL their own hardware, so Apple knows EXACTLY how its going to run, and whats gonna happen if you do certain things
    Second, no one USES Mac, so no one bothers to make viruses for Mac! Think about it, if you (hypotheticly) wanted to kill a bunch of spiders (I don’t like spiders) and for some reason decided to use a biological virus to do so. Assuming you had to create the virus on your own, would you create one that effects 90% of the spiders, or 8% of the spiders? People who want to do malicious deeds, will not go after the smallest bracket, they want to target the most people possible, thus creating Windows viruses and spyware and malware and junkware and Real Media Player. Once more people begin to use Mac, now that you can run it on any box you wish, crackers will begin writing viruses for Macs, malware for Macs, and Dell Update Info for Macs too. Assuming there was no viruses or malware or spyware or Real (or if your just smart enough NOT to download ‘britney spears strips for camera and shows it all.exe’ ), and you BUILD a computer (because god knows we can’t trust any of these manufactured computers) that is properly set up for Windows, you will not have any trouble at all. As a matter of fact, after a 2 hour training lesson in my house, the only thing thats been causing problems on our network is a LINUX router/firewall!
    Now back to how Macs advantages are being obliterated:
    Microsoft is coming out with their new Operating System, Vista, which is just as sturdy as XP, but with WAY more GUI, its effects and transitions may remind you of some of those from Mac, but it just so happens Mac chose the prettiest ones, would you really expect Microsoft to purposefully choose a less handsom theme just so it doesn’t look like Mac? Of course not! Now onto Apple’s image as the best media capturing/editing available. Hardly. You can build an amazingly Silent, Nice looking, and INCREDIBLY fast PC for the same price as a decent Mac if you don’t shop at Future Crap/Worst Buy and have some idea of what you’re doing. This PC will run the PC ported (or PC original) versions of ALL of the mac programs, PLUS some. At my school, in the video editing department, we have not lost a single video, or had a single system crash. Even though students are constantly on them, we explain the rules to them very carefully and let them go at it. With no internet, there is really no harm they can do! An AMD 2600 with 1 gig of ram has NO problem processing a 1 hour movie! And that was less than 800 bucks! So now that Mac has no advantages left over (that i can think of now, i’m SURE you’ll mention some in a reply), lets quickly go over Windows advantages, before i fall asleep.
    Interconnectivity. Bring your desktop to a lan, and you’re connected, gaming, sharing and chatting
    Drivers. Seriously, there are more drivers built for windows than 100x the number built for Mac- hell 1000x the number built for mac! Not ported, BUILT.
    Games. Well you mentioned that, but seriously, Windows PWNS Mac in the games department. There are so incredibly many more games for windows than for mac, that its just not even funny.
    Simpleness. Most people say that Mac is simpler. Wrong. When my ‘friend’ has a problem with her mac, and she calls me, none of my knowledge for PC works. She has to go FIND a mac guru who can help her. When something goes wrong with a PC, you jsut grab one of your other ones (Because they’re SO cheap) and google the error you got! 9/10 times it’ll be in the first page of results!
    Compatability. Kinda covered this in drivers, but more so. EVERYTHING works on windows. Video cards, video cameras, ram, speakers (given), harddrives, file systems (thers a plugin for all of them, even linux swap), perhipeal cards, and COUNTLESS programs. They all run on windows. Like their ads say “A world of devices that run on windows”. Its true, You’d be damn hard pressed to find a device that doesn’t work windows, no matter how terribly it does so. Unfortunatly this is also one of windows admitted downfalls. People buy the cheapest webcam availble, and try to get it to work when dogs have up-chucked on keyboards and created better drivers than the ones provided. Then they blame the operating system, and move over to mac, which only HAS like 3 webcams that work with it (this is an incredible over-exaderation, as i’m sure you are aware) and they figure ‘see, this operating system doesn’t suck! the webcams for it actually work!’ Well in MS’s defence, its not their fault that some people are idiots and can’t make a decent driver to save their life. And that more people are idiots and want to spend 59 cents less and get the ‘GoodyImage’ webcam as opposed to the ‘Creative’ one.

    So to conclude, I STRONGLY disagree with your statement that Mac is better. Please reply to this and point out any sentences i forgot to finish or points i forgot to backup, as it is midnight and i may not be entirely capable of writing a 900 word essay.
    I’ll rant and rave about Linux tomorrow.

    –Truely, iHateMacs 😛
    Bijan a.k.a f4te

    PS. please take this lightly, i mean not to start a great feud on which is greater Mac or PC. That would end in me winning and you canceling my hosting or something terrible like that. Please don’t do that 😛

  2. craigreilly says:

    Bluehost is absolutely great. I tried two other hosts this month to move to – for the simple need of ASP. I just do not like PHP. After many problems getting my accounts set up (permission errors on the folders, permission errors with mysql, mysql timeouts) I have decided to renew with Bluehost and also added a new site this week for mailhosting using a customized version of Squirrelmail.

    Thanks for all you do as an outstanding host. I am looking forward to checking my email one day and seeing “Bluehost adds ASP support”.

    But until that day comes, I thank you for a superior service.

  3. Sorry Matt, what did you say, I’ve forgotten after that last comment. 😛

    Oh yeah, it was about Linux and Macs, I also believe Linux is a superior hosting solution, but I’m not so sure about OSX being a superior OS when it comes to the desktop, I’ve tried OSX on a few occasions but it hasn’t really grabbed me. Not exactly sure why that is the case, I guess the hook didn’t take.

  4. Dear Matt,

    I completely agree with you. Linux is a cost-effective alternative to Windows. Best of all it is more stable than windows, robust and secure. Yes, almost everything is free with linux (Open sources and User contributions).
    “Security, Stability, Robustness, and then Cost-Effectiveness” are some of the reasons why we decided to build our business, programming, database etc in the linux environment.

    Jc Omary
    Free and Paid Business Directory

  5. anthony says:

    Hi Matt,

    I work on Macs for years and I love it. I also use XP on PCs at home and sometimes at work. It just does not compare.

    But I don’t know anything about Linux. Only that my websites are ROCK SOLID, well sometimes there are a few hiccups but nothing serious.

    But sure, you have to offer MS support. Some of my clients will ask for it. And I am sure MS will give you a really good deal you cannot refuse.

    Keep up the good work.


  6. parvenu74 says:

    Greetings, Matt!

    Just curious: what’s the ballpark guess on when Windows hosting will be available, what the costs/features will be, etc. Obviously the details cannot be final until y’all go live but I am curious what the approximates will be as I’ve got some ASP.NET projects coming up in the next few months.


  7. craigreilly says:

    I was simply stating that Bluehost is one of the best out there – and they happen to host using Linux. So, I guess I was saying Linux is great.

    However, ASP is available for Apache and it is some wishful thinking to have a superior host, with ASP, that is also sensitive to pricing.

  8. Protecyon says:

    Dear Matt,

    I would first like to thank you for the wonderful hosting plan. The upgrade to 400GB of bandwidth has been wonderful, because otherwise we would have been forced to move to a new (More expensive) host provider.

    What interested me was the comment:

    “We build a new server for Bluehost customers about every 38 hours.”

    Implementing a new server every 38 hours seems like a huge strain on any Datacenter, are you by any chance using virtualization to accomplish this task? If so, are there any plans to provide customers with the option of purchasing a VPS hosting plan? It would seem that by offering a VPS plan you would be able to more quickly offer customers a Windows Hosting Environment by giving them the ability to setup their own Virtual Machine. Meanwhile you would be able to continue working on a standardized Windows hosting plan akin to the one you currently offer for Linux.

    In regards to Linux dominating the hosting environment I definitely agree that it is superior to Windows for hosting purposes, however it still has a while to go to penetrate the desktop segment due to their terrible graphics driver support. Linux really needs to come up with a way to handle newer NVIDIA and ATI graphic cards more quickly, because the second an average user sees the xserver cannot start error message they’ll lose interest.



  9. Marc says:

    When I run a desktop OS, its a Windows OS. When I run a server OS, its Linux OS. That’s my bottom line.

    Although… the SuSE 10.1 KDE Desktop is pretty…

  10. jeremydgreat says:

    Just want to make two quick comments:

    1) I am amazed at the amount of openness that you approach this blog. Telling us some of your internal costs? Crazy! I love it. This next generation of web professionals and business owners (your clients) respect that quality. It’s a no bull$@% approach which we understand. No hype… just fact.

    2) Windows host. Yes. There is, from a consumer standpoint, a stigma about enterprise hosts vs. the “budget hosts.” One of the main qualities that defines one group from the other is the ability to choose your hosting platform. I come from an IT background where Windows rules all. ASP is king in many circles. Whether you agree or not, there is definately a split in the web host world- budget hosts with clinky control panels who go out of business in a year and the “biggies” that offer all platforms as well as dedicated and shared servers. Would adding a choice take away from BlueHost’s leadership in the budget host world? I don’t see how it would. If anything, the ASP and Windows community would have reason to come on over to BlueHost. It’s a no brainer I’d think. Just pass on the cost to your clients Matt. They expect it because they KNOW the windoze world costs more.

  11. skarg says:

    Hi Matt,

    I use Ubuntu Linux on my desktops at home, and Debian Linux on my servers at home. It has certainly come a long way over the years. I also contribute open source software to the community and have contributed patches and bug reports to many projects. I am glad that you are running Linux – keep up the good work!


  12. rp666 says:

    I couldn’t agree with the above poster more.
    I remember when the idea of adding Windows hosting was originally proposed a few months ago, some Bluehost customers actually wrote in requesting that Bluehost not support Windows.
    With the exception of BlueHost management who have to decide whether or not they want to support Windows servers, I can’t see why this is even a debate. If you don’t want Windows hosting, then don’t use it. Continue using the current hosting package. Matt specifically said that adding support for Windows would not affect the current hosting system. Personally, I look forward to being able to have both my non-Microsoft applications, and my .net applications hosted on Bluehost.
    An ETA for this would be appreciated.

  13. John Simmons says:

    Windows on server: no thanks!
    Windows on desktop: I only have it to run certain applications and drivers that are vendorlocked into it. It has improved, but is still bendoverbackwards compatible to lots of annoyances

    Linux on server: rocks! and getting better every day
    Linux on desktop: OK and getting better every day

    BSD on server: has been the best for rock-solid networking, not sure where it is now – probably about as good as linux on the server, if not better.
    BSD on desktop: not this century

    Solaris on server: had the leading edge but lost it – openSolaris may yet turn out to be something – more likely will end up being just another Linux variant.
    Solaris on desktop: I have used openlook and CDE. Now it is trying to copy/catch up to Linux. Newer innovations (such as lookingglass3d) are available for both, so the distinctions are being lost.

    MacOSX on server: I wouldn’t
    MacOSX on desktop: pretty; possibly the easiest unix in the world for the non-techie, but it would have been better being more posix compliant – too many mac specific tweaks cause problems.

  14. Scott Dean says:

    If the only differance is that I would have the choice of Linux or Gatesware, Ok. But I don’t belive that it would be that way, to much cost to keep it all the same. Having two Packages to choose from? Two Prices? I would ask “would I invest in and start a Hosting Company (GreenHost) based compleatly on the Windows server platform and the BlueHost service platform?” I think Microsoft has opened a can of worms that the fish will love it’s just that they droped it in the water instead of putting them on their hook. Their platform changes have made it easy to build cross platform programs and the future may be the same as the DOS that it was originaly Built on.

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