What Operating System should I choose for deploying OTRS?

Many times I heard the question what OS would be best to install or setup OTRS on. In this post I’ll give an answer.

Choose what fits you best

Typically, the answer is simple: it should be the operating system you (or your organization) is most comfortable with. If your organization is full of debian-lovers, please do install OTRS on Debian. If your organization is all about Microsoft Windows, by all means, go and use Windows.  Short historical note: the Windows Installer for OTRS used to be kind of cumbersome and it was really not easy to upgrade OTRS on Windows, but this is no longer the case since the 3.0 installer was introduced in summer 2013.

Linux versus Windows

OTRS is built on Perl and Perl comes from the UNIX background (it’s older than Linux). Way back Perl was really easier to deploy on Linux or UNIX environments than it was on Windows but, thanks to the hard work of ActiveState and the StrawberryPerl project, this really is no longer the case.

However, the most common deployment option is Linux, and not Windows, and most OTRS developers feel most at home on Linux. If you’d want to do a very large deployment of OTRS you’d also probably be best off on Linux. So if you have the choice between Linux and Microsoft because you’re good at both platforms you could choose Linux.

What linux distro to use?

So, you’ve made up your mind: you’re installing OTRS on Linux. Good. Now what distribution should you choose?

Again, you can take the distro that your organization is already using and is familiar with. Typically, in most environments, you’d set up your OTRS server once, test it, and take it into production. This really would be something you don’t (want to) do every day.  So it means you’d want to have a version that has a long support cycle, upgrading a server OS is not an easy task. Choose a distro that will receive security updates from it’s vendor or community for the years to come. Take for instance Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) or it’s community derivative CentOS, of which version 6 will receive security updates until 30 November 2020. Or, use an Ubuntu LTS release, such as 12.04, which is supported until April 2017. Debian used to be a very good choice as well, and while it’s a very nice OS, they turn out releases in a rate nowadays that it’s not even supported for very long.  Look at their timeline for release and end-of-support dates.

I really would like to give a warning against using distributions such as Fedora or non-LTS Ubuntu releases such as 13.10. They are only supported for a short period (on average 9 or 12 months) and you’d not want to install that on a server that is scheduled to have a lifespan which is measured in years.  That is, unless of course your organization knows this, and likes using ‘bleeding edge’ software, and is willing to do all the extra upgrading and testing that comes with this.

Conclusion

I hope this post gave you a little insight in what is important in choosing a server operating system for deploying OTRS on.Of course there is more to this than I can point out in a 500-word blog post. If you have any specific questions or issues, feel free to contact me!

2 thoughts on “What Operating System should I choose for deploying OTRS?”

  1. Hi Michiel ,

    My name Bagus from Indonesia.
    Just ready your post about the CentOS and OTRS .. since my new company encourage me to use the OTRS for the helpdesk ticketing.

    Please advice .. Do I have to keep using CentOS 6.5 or use the latest?

    Best regards and Thank You,
    Bag

    1. Hi Bagus,

      I’d say you should use CentOS 7 now, it simply gives you newer versions of all components, like Apache and Perl, and it is supported for an even longer period of time. I’d written a How To article about it, this might help!

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