This topic describes how to select an appropriate image from multiple image types and operating systems to suit your business needs. You must select an image when you create an ECS instance.

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


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

If you want to use an image that belongs to a different region, you must copy the image to that 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 images that you use. For more information, see Image prices.

Operating system

When you select an operating system, you must consider the following factors:

  • Operating system architecture: 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 CPU cores.
    64-bit A minimum 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 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 architectures such as .NET programs.
    • Supports SQL Server and other databases (manual installation required).
    Linux and Unix-like SSH
    • A common, stable, and secure server-side operating system.
    • An open source operating system that provides 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 systems. For more information, see Overview.

  • Considerations for Windows

    We recommend that you use a recent version of Windows. More recent versions of Windows have fewer vulnerabilities than earlier versions. 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:
    • Instance types with one vCPU and 1 GiB memory do not support 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 an instance type that has at least 2 GiB of memory when you use Windows 2012.
    • You must select an instance type that has at least 2 GiB of memory if you want to use Windows 2016 or Windows 2019. If your selected instance type has memory of less than 2 GiB, Windows 2016 or Windows 2019 may not be displayed in the public image list on 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:

    • Alibaba Cloud Linux

      Alibaba Cloud Linux is an operating system that provides a safe, stable, and high-performance runtime environment for applications on ECS instances. Alibaba Cloud 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.

    • 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
      • Has 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 distribution contains fewer software features than OpenSUSE.
      • OpenSUSE provides 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 suited for work and production environments, whereas OpenSUSE is more suited for personal entertainment and other professional purposes.
      • As of version 10.2, SUSE Linux is 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 pre-installed with a runtime environment or software applications. You can purchase appropriate images to create ECS instances based on your actual needs. For more information, see Alibaba Cloud Marketplace images.

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