What are Server Operating Systems

Server Operating Systems (SOS) are system software that run on a server and enable the server to manage data, users, groups, security, applications, and other networking functions. SOS use the client/server architecture. Popular network operating systems are Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Microsoft Windows Server 2008, UNIX, several Linux distributions, Mac OS X, Novell NetWare, and BSD.

On a medium to large sized networks, special services are required for managing day-to-day operations such as data sharing, email & Internet access, printer. access, etc. Hence, tight security may be needed to prevent Unauthorized users from accessing or manipulating network resources.

Initially, multiple software were used to provide different networking functions. However, today these needs are taken care of by the server operating systems thereby eliminating the need to purchase additional software.

Centralized Management
Higher Level of Security
Can be accessed from remote locations
Initial cost can be high
Requires special technical expertise
Requires regular maintenance

Server Operating systems include support for a variety of functions (not limited to):

  • Name Server (DNS, WINS, DDNS)
  • Database Server
  • Communications Server
  • Mail Server
  • File Server
  • Print Server
  • Proxy Server
  • Web Server
  • Remote Access Server
  • Gaming Server
  • Terminal Server, etc.

Generally, computers used for serving large number of requests and offering multiple services require powerful hardware. For example a server in a LAN environment, serving 20 – 30 users, would need comparatively less powerful hardware as against one serving millions of users. Servers used in medium to enterprise networks of SP’s need multiple processors, large working memory, extremely large storage and multiple network adapters and, the operating system installed on such computers should be capable of managing this hardware. Nowadays, popular server operating systems such as Microsoft Windows Server, Linux etc. offer features that support the latest, powerful hardware.

Some of the popular server or network operating systems are listed below:

Microsoft Windows Servers

Windows Servers refers to the brand of Server Operating Systems released by Microsoft. Following are the list of Server Operating Systems till date:

  • Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server, Advanced Server & Datacenter Editions
  • Microsoft Windows 2003 Web, Standard, Enterprise & Datacenter Editions
  • Microsoft Windows 2008 Web, Standard, Enterprise & Datacenter Editions
  • Microsoft Windows 2012 Foundation, Essentials, Standard & Datacenter Editions


UNIX is a multitasking, multi-user computer operating system. UNIX operating system is widely used in servers, workstations, and mobile devices. Based on UNIX Kemel, there are several variants available today. Following is a partial list of UNIX Variants:

  • SUN Solaris
  • BSD OS
  • Digital Unix
  • HP-UX
  • MAC OS X Server, etc.


Linux is a Unix-like operating system assembled under the model of free and open source software development and distribution. Linux kernel was initially conceived and created by Finnish computer science student Linus Torvalds in 1991 and today, Linux kernel has received contributions from thousands of programmers across the globe.

It is one of the leading Operating sed on Servers, Mainframes, Smart Phone and Supercomputers. Users & administrators operate a Linux-based system through a command line interface (CLI) or a graphical user interface (GUI).

Linux is packaged in a format known as a Linux distribution through which users install Linux on their desktops or servers. Popular distributions include:

  • Debian
  • Redhat
  • OpenSUSE
  • Android
  • Ubuntu
  • Bharat
  • Fedora, etc.

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