This topic describes how to select a suitable image from multiple image types and operating systems based on your needs. You must select an image when you create an ECS instance.

When you select an image, you must consider the following factors:


An image is tied to its region and can only be used to create instances in the same region. For example, if you want to create an instance in China (Beijing), you can use images only in China (Beijing). For more information about regions, see Regions and zones.

If you want to use an image that belongs to a different region, you must first copy the image to your current region. For more information, see Copy custom images.

Image type

ECS images are classified into public images, custom images, shared images, and Alibaba Cloud Marketplace images based on image sources. For more information, see Image types.

Image fee

You may be charged for the images that you use. For more information, see Image overview.

Operating system

When you select an operating system, you must take into account the following factors:

  • Operating system architecture such as 32-bit or 64-bit
    Operating system architecture Applicable memory Limit
    32-bit A maximum of 4 GiB memory
    • If the memory of an instance type is greater than 4 GiB, you cannot use a 32-bit operating system.
    • A 32-bit Windows operating system supports a maximum of four vCPUs.
    64-bit A maximum of 4 GiB memory If you want to use a memory of at least 4 GiB for your applications, use a 64-bit operating system.
  • Operating system type such as Windows, Linux, or Unix-like operating system
    Operating system type Logon mode Feature Scenario
    Windows Remote Desktop Connection A Windows public image is installed with a genuine activated system.
    • Applicable to programs developed based on Windows, such as .NET
    • Supports SQL Server and other databases (manual installation required)
    Linux and Unix-like SSH
    • A common server-side operating system that features security and stability
    • An open-source operating system that features fast deployment and easy source code compilation
    • Typically used for server applications, such as high-performance web servers, and supports common programming languages such as PHP and Python
    • Supports MySQL and other databases (manual installation required)

    Alibaba Cloud provides a list of public images that run the Windows, Linux, or Unix-like operating system. For more information, see Overview.

  • Considerations for Windows

    We recommend that you use a later version of Windows. Compared with earlier versions, a later version of Windows has fewer vulnerabilities. IIS 7.5 provides more features and a more convenient console than IIS 6.

    Read the following considerations and select the suitable hardware configuration and Windows version based on your needs:
    • Instance types with one vCPU and 1 GiB memory cannot start the MySQL database.
    • Windows instances that are used for website building and web environment deployment must have at least 2 GiB memory.
    • To ensure service availability, we recommend that you select instance types of at least 2 GiB memory when you use Windows 2008 or Windows 2012.
    • You must select instance types of at least 2 GiB memory when you use Windows 2016 or Windows 2019. Otherwise, Windows 2016 or Windows 2019 may not be displayed in the public images list of the buy page.
    • Alibaba Cloud no longer provides technical support for Windows Server 2003 system images. For more information, see Offline announcement of Windows Server 2003 system images.
  • Considerations for Linux and Unix-like operating systems

    Alibaba Cloud Linux and Unix-like public images contain the following distributions:

    • Aliyun Linux

      Aliyun Linux 2 is an operating system developed by Alibaba Cloud. It provides a safe, stable, and high-performance running environment for applications on ECS instances. Aliyun Linux 2 supports various cloud scenarios and instance types (excluding instances of the classic network type and non-I/O optimized instances). For more information, see Overview of Aliyun Linux 2.

    • Red Hat series
      • CentOS
      • Red Hat
      The following table compares CentOS with Red Hat.
      Operating system Software package format Package manager Billing Feature Relationship
      CentOS .rpm yum Free usage
      • Stable but less frequent patch updates than those of Red Hat.
      • Supports online and timely updates.
      • CentOS is an open-source version of Red Hat.
      • They can use the same RPM package.
      • They can use the same commands.
      Red Hat Paid usage Stable with enterprise-level technical support
    • Debian series
      • Debian
      • Ubuntu
      The following table compares Debian with Ubuntu.
      Operating system Software package format Package manager Feature Relationship
      Debian .deb aptitude Stable Ubuntu is built on the Debian architecture and infrastructure. Ubuntu is the enhanced version of Debian.
      Ubuntu apt-get
      • User-friendly system configuration
      • Timely software updates
      • Easy to use and learn
    • SUSE series
      • SUSE Linux
      • OpenSUSE
      The following table compares OpenSUSE with SUSE Linux.
      Operating system Feature Relationship
      • OpenSUSE is the community edition of SUSE Linux. SUSE Linux Enterprise is the enterprise edition of SUSE Linux.
      • SUSE Linux Enterprise is more mature and stable, but its official release contains fewer software features than OpenSUSE.
      • OpenSUSE features advanced software versions, better extensibility (desktop and server installation are supported), and free updates (you can also purchase official technical support).
      • SUSE Linux Enterprise is more applicable to work and production environments, whereas OpenSUSE is more applicable to personal entertainment and other professional purposes.
      • Starting from version 10.2, SUSE Linux was officially renamed OpenSUSE.
      • OpenSUSE uses the same kernel as SUSE Linux.
      SUSE Linux
    • CoreOS

      CoreOS is an open-source lightweight operating system based on the Linux kernel and designed to provide infrastructure for clustered deployments. CoreOS focuses on automation, ease of application deployment, security, reliability, and scalability. CoreOS provides the underlying functionality required for deploying applications inside software containers, together with a set of built-in tools for service discovery and configuration sharing.

    • FreeBSD

      FreeBSD is a Unix-like operating system for a variety of platforms that focus on features, speed, and stability. FreeBSD provides advanced networking, performance, security, and compatibility features that are still missing from other operating systems, even some of the best commercial ones. For more information, visit FreeBSD Documentation.

Built-in software

Alibaba Cloud Marketplace images are typically preinstalled with a running environment or software applications. You can purchase suitable images to create ECS instances based on your actual needs. For more information, see Marketplace images.

What to do next