VPS Showdown - Distro Edition - September 2018 - DigitalOcean vs. Lightsail vs. Linode vs. Vultr

Josh Sherman
4 min read
VPS Showdown
HEADS-UP: A ton has changed since this post was originally published!
Why not check out the latest comparison?

As I sat down to research which distro I would have to use to be able to start including Amazon’s Lightsail service back into these reviews, I thought “ya know Josh, you never did do a distro showdown post like you’ve been talking about”

And here we are. The following table shows which distributions (and versions) are currently available on DigitalOcean, Lightsail, Linode and Vultr.

I took some liberties to combine the trivial version differences and completely omitted the available architectures as I would have had to spin up quite a few boxes to actually verify things.

Distro Version DigitalOcean Lightsail Linode Vultr
Amazon Linux 2018.03.0      
Arch Linux Rolling Release      
CentOS 6.8      
CoreOS Stable  
Debian 8.7      
Fedora 26      
Fedora Atomic 28      
FreeBSD 10.3      
Gentoo Rolling Release      
OpenBSD 6.3      
openSUSE Leap 15.0      
RancherOS 1.4.0      
Slackware 14.1      
Ubuntu 14.04 LTS  
  16.04 LTS
  18.04 LTS  
Windows Server 2012 R2    

Worth noting that Vultr actually lets you upload your own ISO so you really could run ANY distribution of your choosing. In fact, they even have an ISO library that is pretty loaded up!

Lightsail offered the least amount of options and some of the available versions were somewhat dated (hence why I had dropped them from this comparison once newer Debian and Ubuntu had been released).

Linode offered a handful of distributions that nobody else offered, but at the same time doesn’t support FreeBSD (which I know is a deal breaker for some folks).

Ubuntu was hands down one of the most widely supported distributions making it a great choice if you like to hop between hosts regularly.

Windows isn’t really my cup of tea but if it’s your jam, Lightsail and Vultr both offer a couple of Windows Server versions.

All that said, I would have to say that Vultr’s availability of both Linux, *BSD and Windows editions coupled with the fact that you can bring your own ISO makes it the clear winner for me if solely shopping for a host based on OS availability.

As always, if this post swayed your decision in any way, it would be great if you signed up with my referral links.

Or if you’re feeling really generous, show off your favorite tech stack by picking up a shirt!

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Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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