Linux or Windows for web host

  Frankmrobinson 15:36 29 Dec 04
Locked

Looking at web hosting packages some seem to offer the choice between linux or windows. I'm buying one as a present, which should I go for?

  Taran 16:55 29 Dec 04

Linux or UNIX based web hosting is by far the most widespread and commonly available. With most Linux based accounts you get support for CGI/Perl, PHP, MySQL database(s) and sometimes ASP support but this will be Chilisoft ASP.

This is important for you to know.

The latest version of Chilisoft ASP (version 4) is pretty impressuve since it can cope with Microsoft ASP 3.0, VBScript/JScript 5.5, and XML, but most hosts will be running an older version which means we're talking ASP 2.0 and no real effective VBScript support.

Windows hosting is usually far more expensive but offers full ASP 3.0 VBScript and JScript support by default, as well as allowing you to use the more advanced FrontPage integration into your hosted account and the possibility of using Access for small, low traffic sites or upsizing to MS SQL for large web applications.

For the vast majority of users Linux hosting is everything and more that they could either want or wish for, but anyone wanting to work extensively (or at all) with ASP and either Access or MS SQL databases should always go for Windows hosting.

I'm sorry but there is no way to answer the question without knowing the actual needs and expectations of the person who will be using it.

Some hosts allow an upward migration path, where you can upgrade from one account type to another. Some require you to buy a new account and manually move your files and folders to it once it is set up.

You've asked a very large question with no available accurate answer.

If you know what the account use has in mind then you can move from that point - otherwise, we're all in the dark.

Hope that helps a bit.

T

  Forum Editor 18:04 29 Dec 04

for someone and you don't want to ask the recipient which form of hosting they would prefer or need, go for Linux. You have more than a 50% chance of being right if the person is a home user.

  jz 15:17 07 Jan 05

I don't know anything really about either of them, but doesn't PHP roughly do what ASP does, but using different code?

Also, is MSSQL essential for a large database? Does MYSQL run out of steam for such a database?

  Taran 16:33 07 Jan 05

PHP is not an ASP equivalent.

PHP is, in fact, far more versatile with loads more functions than ASP. They are broadly similar in concept, in that they are both processed by the web server and the output is sent to the web browser, but the way in which they work, what they can do and so on is vastly different.

MS SQL is not essential for a large database, up to a point. MS SQL is hosted on Windows web servers and so your usual choice of database on a Windows server is Access or MS SQL. Access is fine for a small to medium size site with reasonable traffic, but if the site is to reach any real size or operate at its best then MS SQL is a must - it can handle far more data, far more concurrent users and offers more flexibility in development terms.

Note, for security reasons I would always recommend ASP.NET with MS SQL databases. Any web host offering standard ASP with MS SQL is brave indeed, but I'm not going into the specifics unless asked (worse than watching paint dry).

MySQL is a truly incredible database solution. If you can make it "run out of steam" then your site will be multiples of gigabytes in size. MySQL can support huge amounts of data and more concurrent users than you can shake a stick at. It is an almost ideal solution in many circumstances, being very, very capable and extremely cost effective.

For large sites either MS SQL on Windows or MySQL on Linux/Apache is the answer. Access though, is fine for small to medium traffic sites and offers a simple solution to many people.

T

  jz 16:52 07 Jan 05

Thanks Taran,

I asked the question because I thought that ASP and MSSQL were perhaps essential for a big and powerful website, but from what you say, this is not necessarily the case. It would seem that you can do very powerful things at low cost with PHP and MYSQL on a Linux server.

  Taran 17:19 07 Jan 05

That is why PHP and MySQL have enjoyed such a meteoric rise in popularity recently.

They are reasonable easy to learn, extremely capable (in the right hands) but are not presently subject to the same licensing costs as Windows and MS SQL/Access database hosting.

Many huge sites run off a MySQL database and more and more PHP sites are being published to take advantage of its abilities.

It isn't necessarily superior to MS SQL and ASP.NET (let's not open that can of worms) but it is certainly capable of enterprise level and mission critical systems.

Like so many things, it all falls down to the person or people coding the application itself, not necessarily the limitations of the tools they are using.

I've seen some superb data driven sites running from an Access back end and some of them have left me with that "how on earth did they do that" feeling. Most disconcerting...

  jz 19:58 10 Jan 05

Thanks for your reply. I've read that ASP.NET is very fast since it uses compiled rather than interpreted code. What does PHP use? If it uses interpreted code, then presumably it's much slower than ASP.NET.

  Frankmrobinson 21:35 10 Jan 05

The biggest mistake was going with 4uhosting, but that's another story.......
Thanks to those who have responded.

  Taran 02:21 11 Jan 05

I read once that the Earth was flat...

Measuring the processing speeds of alternative code platforms is all but impossible without a very great deal of investment in lab conditions and level hardware/software playing fields.

ASP.NET (normally) runs on a different server platform to PHP. To clarify that point, you can get PHP to run on a Windows web server but it never works out quite as well as when it is at home on Linux running Apache web server which, unfortunately, cannot run ASP.NET.

There are a lot of considerations:

1. CPU and RAM installed on the server

2. How well the sever software has been installed, configured and optimised

3. The size and scale of the code function(s) being tested

4. The absolute futility of attempting to duplicate an ASP.NET code block using like-for-like PHP

If you could duplicate ASP.NET code in PHP then PHP would be called ASP.NET

They really are chalk and cheese although like all programming languages they share a common ground and broadly similar tagging structure.

Believe who or what you like, but if you never take anything more on board that I ever type in this forum, take this one point - PHP is fast. Very, very fast.

MySQL, the most commonly used database platform when coding in PHP is also an unbelievable performer. You’d have to go a long way to find a faster combination for most common applications.

Taking into account that you cannot duplicate a PHP program using the same or even vaguely similar code in ASP.NET, and also taking into account the parent server software, possible variations in server hardware, variations in database performance and how well a database has been designed (software engineering hinges on good database design) it is pretty much impossible to collate any convincing evidence for most small to intermediate projects.

If someone wants to, they are welcome to try and convince me that one platform is vastly superior to another. After years of working with ASP and PHP and more recently with ASP.NET I can honestly say that unless the web application being tested is huge there are few, if any, reasonable ways of testing performance in terms of speed to execute code.

Often it falls down to selecting the right platform for a specific application and this is not necessarily a decision based on alleged performance benefits. Everything is a trade off. What one language is great at and others are not is all well and good, but they can all do things the others cannot, in the right hands.

This is a very simple ASP.NET database connection script:

<%@ Import Namespace="System.Data.OleDb" %><script runat="server">
sub Page_Load
dim dbconn
dbconn=New OleDbConnection("Provider=Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0;
data source=" & server.mappath("databasename.mdb"))
dbconn.Open()
end sub
</script>

Now this is a very simple PHP database connection code block:

<?php

$username = "username";

$password = "password";

$database = "databasename";

$hostname = "localhost";

$conn = mysql_connect

("$hostname", "$username", "$password")

or die("Invalid server or user.");

mysql_select_db("$database", $conn);

?>

If you can see a measurable way of comparing the speed of that code which, by its very nature, requires a different server environment to run on, I'd like to know about it.

Two roads that each go from A to B - they just go by different routes along the way.

I've seen some poorly designed and implemented web applications running like a sack of hammers regardless of the languages, database and server type being used. On the flip side of this, I've also seen some superbly designed database-driven sites that positively flew along.

It ain't what you use it's the way that you use it, as one of my students once announced ;o)

  jz 22:56 13 Jan 05

Thanks again for your reply taran, very interesting to hear what you say. And sorry tiger003 for deviating heavily from your thread.

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