Among the questions I am asked more regularly by non Linux users looking to make the switch, “Which Linux distribution would work best for my business?”
This of course is a question that requires a deeper understanding of what that particular business does and therefore needs. Generally businesses fall in to several categories that might have very specific needs but to create an overview I’ll focus on several business types and address the question from there.
Most established offices that still rely heavily on internal email, heavy security, and typical office software will probably favor either Debian, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, or possibly Fedora. These all come in a stable branch of software that relies heavily on an administrator to allow or deny changes made to critical parts of the system and is fairly no-frills.
Debian also comes in a slightly more current branch and has many practical applications available in the software center.
Most current businesses that have more modern needs might do well to steer towards something in the Ubuntu branch of Linux distributions, either a Ubuntu variant like Linux Mint, or possibly even Elementary OS, both of which have user friendly interfaces, are fast and very reliable.
Truthfully you can tailor most Linux distributions to do what the others can do so think of most of these as just good starting points. I’ve used Crunchbang Linux as a staring point for a few projects, i.e. personal computers for friends.
If you intend to do video conferencing and banking be sure to use the security enhancements offered in the software center as well as the security options offered during installation.
For 100% security centric businesses there are several Linux distributions that can be beneficial to have in the office, from Kali Linux, to Backbox, to Caine and even Tails which with the proper configuration offers near anonymity online. (Ideal for online banking etc.)
Most distributions of Linux allow a great deal of customization from the scale of the system to the desktop environments that will be used by the user of any given machine. I’ve deployed Linux in environments as small as 5Gb and as large as 2 Tb and found that in either extreme the resulting system was quite stable.
Ram and processor speed should be a major factor in your decision. A single core processor with less than 3Gb of Ram will still run many Linux distributions but will not be ideal for the more resource heavy desktops.
If you run a small business like a shop with 4 computers you’ll find any of the Ubuntu variants adequate and comfortable to use. If you run a larger operation with warehouses and you need to keep in contact with other locations in real time etc, you’ll still probably be safe using a Ubuntu based OS, but could also find Red Hat Enterprise a suitable workhorse.
What tends to be ideal…
Breaking the topography of your business in to stations that can be networked efficiently solves the problem of one size fits all when it comes to Linux. You can realistically have every sort of distribution under one roof if you have a business that can make use of all the strengths and weaknesses of all the given Linux distributions.
If you had 4 floors of a building and had a network consisting of a mail room, (Red Hat or Debian) a marketing department (Mint or Ubuntu) an ordering center (Security enhanced Red Hat or similar) and a warehouse (Elementary OS) you would have an ideal setup.
You’ll do well to look into which open source software can fill your needs for any business aspect that you currently rely on as most if not all of the current software available can be found by searching on either OSALT, GitHub, or throughout the Linux forums.