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Linux distributions you can install SQL Server on

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I thought I better cover which current Linux distributions you can install SQL Server on because I still see people asking about this frequently online.

Certainly, some of this information exists in older posts of mine. However, I thought I better compile vital information about Linux distributions into a central post for easy reference.

For instance, some of the information below can be found in the previous posts listed here:

I will start with the distributions you can install Linux on first though. To make things easier feel free to click on a link below to go straight to a section.

Linux Distributions

To explain what distributions are first, you can think of them as different versions of the Linux Operating System. Some of them share similarities but they are all unique in their own way.

If you want to know more about Linux distributions you can read the Wikipedia article in detail here.

Now, there are various Linux Distributions that SQL Server is officially supported on. For instance, the list of supported distributions for SQL Server 2017 can be found here.

You can view supported distributions for SQL Server 2019 here. One thing I want to emphasize is that at this moment in time the same distributions are supported as with SQL Server 2017.

However, there are newer versions of these Linux distributions available. Hopefully, SQL Server 2019 will support some of the newer versions by the time it’s officially released.

Another key point is that even though SQL Server on Linux is supported on various distributions SQL Server can be installed on other distributions instead.

Although I would only advise this for testing purposes only because SQL Server would not be supported by Microsoft on these other distributions.

In reality, you can probably install SQL Server on more diverse distributions than the ones listed. However, I have focused on the main ones below.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)

RHEL is one of the most popular Enterprise solutions for Linux on the market. Even more so after completing its merger with IBM.

Now, if you want to test a version of this you are definitely spoiled for choice.

RHEL evaluation edition

It’s important to realize that the evaluation edition comes with a 30-day evaluation period. If you install the evaluation edition be aware that you must finish the installation completely before this period expires.

You can find out more about the evaluation edition in detail here.

RHEL through the developer program

If you sign up to the Red Hat Developer program you are eligible to download and use a copy of RHEL for non-production use only.

Which means you could install it to test SQL Server, but you cannot use it for production.

You can read more about the no-cost announcement for the developer program in detail here.

Licensed RHEL

Due to the licensing costs it’s certainly rare for a company to have a spare production RHEL license available for testing. However, if you are lucky enough to work for such a company it is definitely an option.

You can read all about RHEL in detail here.

CentOS

Now some of you might be wondering what the CentOS distribution has got to do with RHEL. To explain, CentOS is essentially the community version of RHEL. In fact, it uses the same binaries.

Of course, there are differences. For instance, CentOS has no Red Hat branding and no enterprise support. Therefore, there are limited online forums and search engines that you can use if you encounter any issues.

However, CentOS is free to download and use. In fact, I have used it myself to test SQL Server on Linux and it runs fine. I’ve also seen a Microsoft employee use it at a SQL Server conference.

So, if you are a first timer and you don’t want to sign up for anything than this might be the option for you. You can find out more about CentOS in detail here.

SUSE

SUSE is another Linux distribution that seems to have been around for some time now. I remember a long time ago when it was available in the UK and you could buy a version of it on multiple green CD’s.

Earlier this year it announced that it was an independent company again.  Will this make a difference to SQL Server, only time will tell. You can read details about that here.

SUSE would also be a good test distribution if your workplace uses it. You can find out more about SUSE in detail here.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server

Now this is the officially supported version of SUSE. It has infrequent updates so that it is stable for Enterprise use.

In addition, this version also comes with a free 60-day trial. As far as the limitations of this free trial are concerned, I have no idea. However, patches and updates can be done.

You can find out more about it in detail here.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop

In theory, there is nothing to stop you installing SQL Server on the Enterprise Desktop version instead for testing. Because I haven’t tried it, I can’t give you more information about it.

Therefore, I want to ask the people who have tried it to help us all by leaving your user experience in the comments of this post.

openSUSE

Now, I was first introduced to openSUSE over eleven years ago. However, I have not used it much over the years.

It is a distribution that is based on SUSE Linux Enterprise and it is free. In theory, you should be able to install SQL Server on there and test how it would behave on SUSE.

You can download openSUSE and find out about it in detail here.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is developed by Canonical and is a very popular version of Linux. You can use it yourself for free or pay for professional services in production.

It’s thanks to its popularity that you can use a version of Linux on your personal laptop for free.

So, if you are looking to use SQL Server on Linux for the first time and no idea which version you will use in the workplace this can be a good option.

Ubuntu Server

Now, when you first look at SQL Server on Linux documentation it just says Ubuntu is supported.

However, when you delve into the Ubuntu download section it points to the download for the server edition. Which makes sense because that is enterprise ready.

Ubuntu Desktop

This is something else I did not test, but don’t let that stop you of installing SQL Server on Ubuntu Desktop yourself for testing.

However, before you start installing, I do want to point out that there are other variants you might also be able to install SQL Server on. You can see the list of these variants’ details here.

For more information in detail about Ubuntu you can follow this link here.

Desktop Experience

I have talked about this in my previous post which you can read in detail here. However, I will quickly say this again.

If you have been using Windows Operating System for some time and are nervous about using Linux commands this is something that can help you.

You can install a desktop environment with your Linux installation, which means you have a Windows like desktop available. So, you can use something with a desktop to begin with whilst you get use to Linux commands.

However, I only recommend using this when you first start testing SQL Server on Linux though and not in production.

Docker

I will also mention Docker again in this post because a lot of people have been asking about the distribution they can install for testing.

However, installing Docker and testing a container running SQL Server on Linux instead is definitely a viable alternative. Especially if you are testing on a computer with limited resources.

Of course, it all depends on what you want to test.

As stated previously you have two main options when you look to create a Docker container running SQL Server on Linux:

  • Firstly, you can download an image supplied by Microsoft with SQL Server preinstalled.
  • Secondly you can build an image yourself based on a sample dockerfile by following the Microsoft configuration guide here.

For SQL Server 2017 you can only download an image supplied by Microsoft with SQL Server preinstalled on the Ubuntu Distribution.

However, for SQL Server 2019 you can also download an image with SQL Server preinstalled for the RHEL distribution.

Final word

I hope this post about current Linux distributions you can install SQL Server on was useful for some of you.

By all means feel free to add a comment. Especially if you have tried installing SQL Server on a distribution that I haven’t listed here.

Linux distributions you can install SQL Server on
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