Which linux distro for a 2021 Virtualmin server?

Just curious what people are using when commissioning new servers with Virtualmin in 2021 - CentOS (if so which one) or something else?

Would be curious to hear whether the VM team recommending one over any others too :slight_smile:

1 Like

Looked into this a little more and it seems that…

  • CentOS 8 may be better if you intend to upgrade that system to Rocky Linux. It is pencilled in for a Q2 2021 release and they will “provide an easy upgrade path from CentOS 8”

  • CentOS 7 may be better if you intend on staying on it for a few years (while waiting for RockyL to sort out teething issues perhaps) and don’t mind maintenance updates only from the end of this year to June 2024. There will be no official upgrade path to Rocky Linux though, so if you move to it at some point you will have to start afresh or rely on community based upgrade paths.

I refresh my servers every few years anyway so CentOS 7 now for the next few years appears to be best for me… however I do want to support Rocky Linux so tempted to go CentOS 8!

Curious what others think!

Been sticking with Ubuntu since v10.04 for all my servers and I’ll most probably continue sticking with it for any new servers that I might get in the short/long run.

I did give CentOS a try on one of my VPS a few years back to check out a trial version of cPanel but ended up going back to Ubuntu.

1 Like

I like debian 10.7

1 Like

I recently spun up two new VMs for the upcoming Virtualmin.com migration and I used CentOS 8 on both. Non-stream version is probably the safer choice; it will more easily convert to Rocky or Alma, and won’t have any surprises in terms of incompatible changes.

I always recommend you go with what you are familiar with. It already takes a ton of time to maintain servers that are familiar, if you have to add a bunch of research every time you need to do something unusual, it just gets out of hand fast. The drama around CentOS probably doesn’t change that equation much.

If you don’t have existing expertise, go with what is most popular among the people working on the web apps you’re using. That’s probably going to be Ubuntu or CentOS. (Virtualmin included…CentOS and Ubuntu are clear leaders in terms of market share).

So, I’m saying the same thing I’ve always said. Use what you know. If you don’t know anything, use what is most popular and has the most docs, tutorials, people talking about it, etc. particularly for the applications you will be using.



As I’ve been migrating some really old servers, along with some less older but still dated machines in the past few months, I chose Ubuntu 20.04 LTS after playing around with Debian 10 (buster) for a few weeks.

I agree with @Joe when he says


The fact that I’ve been using Ubuntu and a variant on my desktop/laptop computers, the switch was less of a hassle as I’ve been keeping up with their distro for sometime.

*** If you read around, you’ll note that for years I was using CentOS and stuck with it until the announcement in Dec which just rubbed me the wrong way ***

As Ubuntu seems to have a ton of tutorials, documentation and websites pretty much dedicated to the distro it felt like the best choice. Canonical the primary developer of Ubuntu also seems to have their head on straight (for the most part) when it comes to their server edition so I feel like I’m in good company with my cloud provider DigitalOcean who installs it on their servers, along with a wide array of other well known organizations.

As mentioned, we spin up VPS’ primarily these days vs dedicated servers, and as such what I tend to do on my Ubuntu systems is uninstall “snapd” as I find at least for the moment that it just puts unnecessary load on the servers where as I don’t really use snapd based apps at the moment. This ofcourse could change at anytime in the future.

*** one exception to the “snapd” removal rule above is within my home office test labs, I do run “lxc” via snapd but that’s basically the exception for now. ***

Just my two cents!

Best Regards,
Peter Knowles | TPN Solutions


I’ve been using Ubuntu. Originally, I was on 18.04 Server LTS. I upgraded it to 20.04 Server LTS with no problems at all. It was just another update.

I’ve never had an issue with it and Virtualmin other than my own mistakes I made that were fixed by either the good folks here or by reading here.

Like mentioned before, there are TONS of sites for Ubuntu as well, so even if a problem you’re having is unrelated to Virtualmin, it’s pretty easy to find a solution in just a Google search and a few clicks and a bit of reading.

I just recently set up a small test server using Debian 10. It seems to work well too, but I’m not very well versed in it so I can’t really comment on it other than to say I like how Debian doesn’t have updates anywhere near as often as Ubuntu does.

Sometimes the sheer number of Ubuntu updates gets annoying.

1 Like

I’ve mostly been using Debian since 4, through migrations and upgrades and it gave me problems only once over the years.

I have one server currently with Ubuntu also, but I agree with @Gomez_Adams that the number of updates can get a bit excessive at times. Apart from that it’s also mostly quite stable.
Though the whole Snap thingy and other projects the start and then discontinue is worrying at times.

CentOS (or any RPM based distro) I try to stay clear of as much as I can.

1 Like

@toreskev, @Gomez_Adams,

Yes, Ubuntu gets updated frequently, this can be looked at as “good” and “bad” depending on how you view the reasons for this.

Bad - it’s annoying to constantly have to update the OS and it’s packages as you need to keep an eye on constantly changing factors – Debian and formerly CentOS don’t have this because well they’re primarily focusing on fixing bugs and security issues rather then introducing new features and functionality, not to mention they tend to stick with versions of software (feature wise) which are older therefore don’t require as much tuning or adjusting.

Good - while the above is true, Ubuntu focuses on more “bleeding edge” software which gives you the ability to start using new functionality today, rather then either installing from a third party repo to get say the latest PHP version (which can sometimes be dangerous) or waiting til the next major release after it’s been fully tested and made part of the new distros version. (These steps by Debian and formerly CentOS are warranted and make perfect sense based on their mission as a distro)

Normally I stick with the Debian model as I did when using CentOS, but I feel Canonical has done an exceptional job of quickly patching and addressing key issues with newer software so having bleeding edge software is less risky IMHO since they are actively monitoring, and fixing problems found daily to ensure stability and security within their distro. Hence, even though they to introduce newer versions and newer features within their LTS it seems to be done carefully and gets the regular support of an LTS that you’d come to expect from a Debian type of build.

Anyways, so far so good on my Ubuntu journey and I do reserve the right to change my views at a later date. heh heh

Best Regards,
Peter Knowles | TPN Solutions


This is why I was asking as I was curious how much it has affected other people’s decisions.

Is there much difference between CentOS 7 and 8? And are you going to upgrade to Rocky or Alma before the end of the year which is when CentOS 8 support ends? (Or will you just continue using it after that)


As with all major OS version upgrades, there is plenty different between CentOS 7 and 8. This is by nature and was the case between CentOS 6 and 7 for instance.

The news in Dec regarding the change of direction for CentOS post 8 which will officially reach “end-of-life” at the end of 2021 is what has created the chaos in the ecosystem and hence the reason Rocky Linux amongst others are doing their best to pick up where CentOS’ left off with it’s former mission and purpose.

Rocky Linux amongst other new or existing RedHat based distros are doing their best to make transitioning from CentOS 8 to their distro when they are released. Some distros have already released versions and have made it super simple to migrate from CentOS 8 to their distro.

Bottom line, choose your direction, choose your distro and in terms of CentOS 8 and the end of their former mission, distros such as Rocky Linux amongst a few others will come to the aid in helping you transition over to them with ease and continue enjoying the former CentOS-like experience.

Best Regards,
Peter Knowles | TPN Solutions


I’ll probably try switching to Stream long before then. But, most users should choose the safer path.

1 Like

It’s my observation, based on tests I’ve done with Oracle Linux and AlmaLinux, that once Virtualmin is installed, it doesn’t much care what the distro is, as long as it’s binary-compatible with the OS that it was installed to and the repos are aligned. That’s based on several dozen installations, done in different ways, on both virtual and physical machines.

If I had to spin up a server tonight at gunpoint, I’d install CentOS 8.3 minimal, update it, install Virtualmin, install whatever other stuff I wanted (different PHP versions and so forth), migrate or restore the sites, make a backup, and migrate to AlmaLinux.

I’ve probably installed Virtualmin more times than anyone else in the Interwebs-connected world over the past couple of months, and I’m confident that that would work just fine.

I also am confident that it would work with Oracle Linux, Rocky Linux, or anything else binary-compatible with CentOS. So I have no reason not to believe that all of these distros will be officially supported before CentOS 8 goes EOL. I can say with certainty that Oracle Linux and AlmaLinux work, and I have no reason to believe that Rocky Linux won’t.



hi, I’ve been using debian since debian 5. never had any problems. I tried ubuntu but it was not my cup of tea. Same as for ubuntu everything is for debian is on internet on google and if you cannot find it, you can use configurations right from software websites, like apache etc as debian does not modify it mostly. So for me it would be debian.

I would say, go with something long term spin so you don’t have to upgrade distro every year or so and stay close to source as much as you could. Some use ubuntu some centos some debian I guess choose what is close to your own preference :slight_smile:

I heard that some even use free bsd or open bsd? as replacement for centos but as I only try to install centos once I cannot say. Perhaps if you compatible with centos, stay with centos.

Been using Webmin on Debian since 2006, and Webmin/Virtualmin later on.

Easy to manage and upgrade.

See no reason to use Ubuntu since it’s Debian based. (just more clutter in my eyes)
And they push more updates, which equals more risk of failure.

Copy paste from the web:

Debian is considered as a more stable distro compared to Ubuntu. This is because Debian (Stable) has fewer updates, it’s thoroughly tested, and it is actually stable.

Used CentOS for many years with Cpanel/WHM on one of my servers, but that went out the window when they left me out with no way to upgrade (twice i think?), so I’m back to Webmin/Virtualmin on 5 Debian servers now.

So I’d say, to keep it simple, use Debian. :slight_smile:

I have been running CentOS for years… I am on CentOS 8 now… Looking Rocky or Alma, are my top picks at this point. . I figure am waiting to see what the staff here adds to supported installs. Rocky or Alma, or both ?

Probably both. If either goes in a custom direction that makes it hard to support (for whatever reason), that may change. I think we only have test data for AlmaLinux from pretty extensive testing that @RJM_Web_Design did (and Ilia and Jamie did a bit of work to add it to Webmin’s supported OS list…we still need a little more work to make Virtualmin install easily). Rocky isn’t out yet, I don’t think, so no testing has been done, so I can’t really make any promises.

I think we can confidently say: AlmaLinux is definitely “yes” (unless they change something that changes our mind). Rocky Linux is “very likely”.


Hello, and thanks for this topic.
I have 2 small Centos 7 VPS. I installed Centos 8 in November in a 3rd VPS to test it, but I did nothing else when the problem arose, just waiting to see a perfect replacement for Centos.

I only use BIND, Postfix and Dovecot for emails accounts, Apache, MariaDB, and PHP that I need to update frequently due to the flat-file CMS I use, that was a problem with Centos that has old PHP versions, but thanks to Virtualmin and Software Collections I was able to have more than one PHP version. In fact, I depend much on Virtualmin to manage the VPS because I am not an expert on the command line.

I would like to install an OS and have it working stable for 10 years, for that reason I loved Centos, but the problem was to update PHP and now that is rolling release. My desktop is MX Linux that is based on Debian.

I need a very long-term support OS (10 years) with an easy way to upgrade BIND, Postfix, Dovecot, Apache, MariaDB just in case I need something special with DB and PHP, and of course fully compatible with Virtualmin. Any suggestion is very welcomed.
Thanks and best regards.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.