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Linux on Azure – Linux Distributions

Last Updated : 29 Jan, 2024
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Azure, the cloud computing platform from Microsoft, offers a playground for deploying and managing your Linux-based operating systems. Think of it as a canvas of boundless resources, security, and scalability, painted onto which you can unleash the boundless creativity and flexibility of Linux. This powerful synergy unlocks a world of opportunity, propelling your apps and workloads to new heights.

But what exactly is Linux on Azure? It’s not just about running servers in the cloud. It’s about harnessing the combined strengths of two giants: the open-source power of Linux and the robust infrastructure of Azure. It’s like equipping a race car with a jet engine – a recipe for unmatched performance and agility.

Linux on Azure: Why Azure?

1. Flexibility : Forget about being shoehorned into a single operating system. Azure boasts a dizzying array of Linux distributions, each with its distinct personality. Crave user-friendliness? Ubuntu beckons. Need rock-solid stability? CentOS awaits. Desire enterprise-grade security? Red Hat stands ready. Whatever your needs, there’s a Linux distro on Azure perfectly curated for you.

2. Scalability: Remember those bulky on-premises servers struggling to keep up with your growing demands? With Azure, scaling is a breeze. Need to spin up new VMs for a sudden traffic surge? Just a click away. Want to downscale during off-peak hours? Done in a flash. This dynamic resource allocation ensures your applications always have the power they need, without wasting a single dime.

3. Cost-Effectiveness for the Thrifty: Forget hefty license fees and upfront hardware investments. Azure’s pay-as-you-go model aligns perfectly with the open-source spirit of Linux. You only pay for the resources you consume, allowing you to scale your IT infrastructure without breaking the bank. Whether you’re a bootstrapping startup or a thriving enterprise, this cost-efficiency opens doors to boundless computing possibilities.

4. Security Metrices: Worried about data breaches and security vulnerabilities? Rest assured, your digital fortress is impregnable with Azure. Its robust security infrastructure and rigorous compliance certifications offer unparalleled protection for your sensitive data and applications. Think of it as an impenetrable shield, woven with the latest security technologies, guarding your cloud empire with unwavering vigilance.

5. Boundless Innovation: The cloud is not a stagnant realm – it’s a constant dance of innovation. With Azure, you’re always at the forefront of the latest technological advancements. Seamless integration with other Microsoft services like Active Directory and Visual Studio streamlines your workflow, while continuous innovation ensures you always have access to the cutting edge of cloud technology.

Linux Distributions on Azure

Linux comes in various flavors, known as distributions or distros, each tailored to specific needs and preferences. When choosing a Linux distribution on Azure, factors like performance, security, and application compatibility come into play. Here are some popular Linux distributions commonly used on Azure:

  • Ubuntu: The ubiquitous champion, Ubuntu, welcomes everyone with open arms. User-friendly and versatile, it boasts a vast software repository and a lively community, making it perfect for beginners and veterans alike.
  • CentOS: For those seeking rock-solid stability, CentOS stands as a stoic sentinel. Its predictable updates and long-term support lifecycle make it ideal for mission-critical applications, particularly in enterprise environments.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL): This commercially supported powerhouse prioritizes enterprise-grade security and high reliability. Think of it as a fortress for your most sensitive data, perfect for organizations demanding rigorous compliance and unwavering stability.
  • Debian: For those who relish customization and control, Debian is a playground of possibilities. Its vast array of software packages and granular configuration options empower users to tailor their systems to their exact needs.

Deploying Linux on Azure

Now that we’ve explored some Linux distributions, let’s discuss the general process of deploying a Linux virtual machine on Azure:

1. Azure Portal:

  • Log in to the Azure portal (
  • Click on “Create a resource” and search for “Ubuntu,” “Red Hat,” or your preferred distribution.
  • Follow the wizard to configure the virtual machine, including specifications like size, authentication, and networking.

2. Azure CLI:

Use the Azure Command-Line Interface (CLI) to deploy a virtual machine. For example, to create an Ubuntu VM:

az vm create --resource-group MyResourceGroup --name MyVM --image UbuntuLTS --admin-username azureuser --ssh-key-value ~/.ssh/

  • ‘az vm create’: This is the Azure Command-Line Interface (CLI) command used to create a virtual machine (VM) in Azure.
  • ‘–resource-group MyResourceGroup’: Specifies the Azure Resource Group in which the virtual machine will be created. A Resource Group is a logical container for resources in Azure. Replace MyResourceGroup with the desired name for your resource group.
  • ‘–name MyVM’: Specifies the name of the virtual machine. In this example, the VM will be named “MyVM.” Replace ‘MyVM’ with the desired name for your virtual machine.
  • ‘–image UbuntuLTS’: Specifies the image or operating system for the virtual machine. In this case, it’s set to “UbuntuLTS,” indicating Ubuntu Long-Term Support.You can choose different images based on your requirements. Common values include UbuntuLTS, CentOS, WindowsServer, etc.
  • ‘–admin-username azureuser’: Specifies the username for the administrator account on the virtual machine. Replace azureuser with the desired username for the administrator account.
  • ‘–ssh-key-value ~/.ssh/’: Specifies the SSH public key to be used for authentication. This key will be added to the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file on the VM, allowing secure SSH access. Replace ‘~/.ssh/’ with the path to your own SSH public key file.

3. Azure Marketplace:

Explore the Azure Marketplace for pre-configured solutions based on your chosen Linux distribution. This can include applications, databases, and development environments.

Benefits of Linux on Azure

1. Cost-Effective: Imagine getting a powerful computer system for free! Linux, the operating system used on Azure, is open source, which means it’s like a digital gift that doesn’t cost anything. This can be super helpful for businesses trying to save money, especially when budgets are tight.

2. Flexibility and Customization: Think of Linux as your digital playground where you get to decide the rules. Unlike some other systems, Linux lets you customize everything to fit your needs. It’s like having a super flexible LEGO set where you can build and create exactly what you want.

3. Performance: If you want your computer to be like a superhero, running fast and efficiently, Linux is your go-to sidekick. Linux is known for using resources really well, making it perfect for tasks that need a lot of power. It’s like having a sports car for your computer, zipping through tasks without any slowdowns.

4. Security: Security is like having a superhero shield for your computer, protecting it from bad things. Linux comes with a strong security system, and when you team it up with Azure, it’s like adding extra layers of protection. It’s as if your computer is surrounded by a force field, keeping all your information safe and sound.

5. Community Support: Ever been stuck on a tricky video game level and needed help? That’s what the Linux community is like, but for your computer. It’s a massive group of friendly people who love to help. You can find guides, chat with others, and learn from tutorials. It’s like having a team of friends who are always ready to lend a hand when you’re figuring out something new on your computer.

In a nutshell, using Linux on Azure is like having a super-smart, customizable, and cost-effective assistant for your digital adventures. It’s reliable, powerful, and supported by a community that’s always there to guide you. So, whether you’re a tech wizard or just getting started, Linux on Azure has something for everyone.

Challenges and Considerations

While Linux on Azure offers numerous advantages, there are some challenges and considerations to keep in mind:

1. Learning Curve: Starting with Linux might feel like learning a new language, but don’t worry! It’s a bit like exploring a new game. There’s a learning curve, but the good news is that there are tons of guides and friendly folks in the Linux community ready to help you level up. So, it’s more like an exciting journey of discovery than a tough challenge.

2. Application Compatibility: Think of your computer as a stage, and applications as actors in a play. Before bringing them onto the Linux stage in Azure, it’s essential to make sure they know their lines. Some older applications might need a little rehearsal or modification to shine in the Linux spotlight. It’s like making sure everyone in the play is on the same page.

3. Support Models: Support is like having a tech-savvy friend who’s always there to assist you. While many Linux versions work smoothly on Azure, it’s important to understand how much support you can expect. Microsoft and Linux vendors have partnerships that define the level of help you can get. It’s a bit like choosing between a personal guide and exploring on your own – both have their perks!

4. Integration with Azure Services: Imagine Azure services as different tools in a toolbox, and Linux as the handyman trying to use them. Sometimes, some tools fit better than others. Different Linux versions might integrate with Azure services in various ways. So, before you start fixing things, check if your tools (Linux) are compatible with the tasks you want to tackle in Azure. It’s like making sure your wrench fits the nut you’re trying to tighten.

While using Linux on Azure brings incredible benefits, considering these points is like having a map for your journey. It helps you navigate through the learning process, ensure a smooth performance for your applications, and make the most out of the powerful combination of Linux and Azure.

Linux on Azure – Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most popular Linux distributions on Azure?

Azure boasts a vast library of Linux distributions, but some reign supreme:

  • Ubuntu: User-friendly and versatile, perfect for beginners and advanced users alike.
  • CentOS: Known for its rock-solid stability and long-term support, ideal for mission-critical applications.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL): Enterprise-grade security and high reliability, preferred by organizations demanding rigorous compliance and stability.
  • Debian: Granular configuration options and a vast software repository, appealing to users who desire ultimate control.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES): Another enterprise-focused option, renowned for its scalability and performance.

How do I choose the right Linux distribution for Azure?

Consider your needs and priorities:

  • User experience: Beginner? Choose Ubuntu. Need rock-solid stability? Go for CentOS. Enterprise needs? RHEL might be best.
  • Technical expertise: Ubuntu and CentOS are generally user-friendly, while Debian and SLES require more technical know-how.
  • Software compatibility: Choose a distribution compatible with your desired applications.
  • Cost: Most distributions on Azure are free, but RHEL requires paid licensing.

Are there pre-configured images available for Linux on Azure?

Yes! Azure offers pre-built VM images for popular distributions, optimized for specific workloads like web servers, databases, and development environments. This simplifies deployment and saves you time.

Can I run multiple Linux distributions on the same Azure VM?

Yes, you can install and run multiple distributions on the same VM using tools like Docker containers or LXC virtual machines. This provides greater flexibility and isolation for different applications.

What resources are available to help me learn about Linux on Azure?

Azure offers comprehensive documentation, tutorials, and hands-on labs to guide you through deploying and managing Linux distributions. Their online community and technical support are also valuable resources for your learning journey.


Linux on Azure opens up a world of possibilities for developers, IT professionals, and businesses. Whether you’re drawn to the simplicity of Ubuntu, the enterprise-grade capabilities of RHEL, or the flexibility of Debian, Azure provides a robust platform for your Linux workloads.

As you embark on your journey with Linux on Azure, don’t hesitate to explore, experiment, and leverage the vast resources available. The combination of Linux’s power and Azure’s cloud capabilities can unlock new horizons for your projects and applications.

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