My adventure with Linux started from Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) at the end of 2007. Shortly I can sum it up: it was a passion from the very beginning. Learning curve wasn't easy though: two wrecked laptops,
late nigh hours spent installing, and learning - every day learning - and that was just the beginning of a long journey to where I'm now. I've always looked for faster, better optimized and custom build
Honestly, I've tested and used so many different Linux distributions since then - that it is hard just to say, that I know a thing or two. I went further and further.. main distributions,
forks, simpler, leaner distr.. and finally I landed with Gentoo. On Gentoo and LFS I've learnt how to compile kernel, modify system internals ( Gentoo!), how to live without GUI - with the console only, how to work around bugs, and resolve problems I meet. All of that hard-learned experience and knowledge I fall back on on daily basis. But nowadays
I lean more and more towards Funtoo due to its un-compromised stability and leaner configuration.
My choice of distribution for servers was Ubuntu (LTS) - mostly due to the 100% AWS, Docker, OpenStack compatibility, it was also faster with security updates than CentOS.
However, a while ago I set up out
of curiosity a Gentoo based server (thanks to Linode). Don't get me wrong - this is just sad, because all those wise guys out there writing about 'DO NOT INSTALL GENTOO ON SERVER' bad press don't know a
thing. I modified it with ease and tuned to use 1/10 of resources of what typical same size Ubuntu is using. Yes, really. I guess this is a reason why Google uses modified Gentoo for some of their projects.
Plus maintenance takes 'almost' the same amount of time compared to other distributions. I don't use one server to serve all, that is why I believe I can afford to spend a bit more time working with the
servers to make them faster, secure, more robust for websites and applications I host.
I try to use strictly Europe based IaaS providers to set up cloud servers I work with, but the needs be across ocean I actually have a good experience with two solid and not overpriced IaaS operators out there too.