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 Elastic Compute Service (ECS) instance.

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


An image is tied to a region and can be used to create instances only within the region. If you want to use an image that resides in Region A to create an instance in Region B, you must copy the image to Region B. For more information, see Copy an image. If you want to use an image to create an instance in the China (Beijing) region, make sure that the image resides in the China (Beijing) region. For more information about regions, see Regions and zones.

Image type

ECS images are classified into public images, custom images, shared images, community 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 Images.

Operating system

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

Operating system architecture: 32-bit or 64-bit

Operating system architectureSupported memoryLimits
32-bitLess than 4 GiB of memory
  • If the memory of an instance type is more than 4 GiB, you cannot use a 32-bit operating system.
  • A 32-bit Windows operating system supports up to four vCPUs.
64-bitAt least 4 GiB of memoryIf you want to use at least 4 GiB of memory for your applications, use a 64-bit operating system.

Operating system type: Windows, Linux, or UNIX-like

Operating system typeConnection methodBenefitScenario
WindowsRemote Desktop ConnectionA Windows public image contains a genuine activated operating system.
  • Suitable for programs that are developed based on Windows architectures, such as .NET programs.
  • Suitable for SQL Server and other databases. You need to manually install these databases.
Linux or UNIX-likeSSH
  • A common, stable, and secure server-side operating system.
  • An open-source operating system that enables fast deployment and easy compilation of source code.
  • Used for server applications, such as high-performance web servers, and supports common programming languages such as PHP and Python.
  • Suitable for MySQL and other databases. You need to manually install these databases.

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

Considerations for Windows versions

We recommend that you use a recent version of Windows. Recent versions of Windows have fewer vulnerabilities than earlier versions. For example, Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.5 provides more features and a more convenient console than IIS 6.

Take note of the following considerations and select a suitable Windows version and hardware configurations based on your needs:
  • Instance types that have only one vCPU and 1 GiB of memory do not support MySQL databases.
  • Windows instances must have at least 2 GiB of memory to host websites and web environments.
  • 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.
  • If you want to use Windows Server 2016, 2019, or 2022, you must select an instance type that has at least 2 GiB of memory. If your selected instance type has less than 2 GiB of memory, Windows Server 2016, 2019, or 2022 are not displayed in the public image list on the buy page.
  • Alibaba Cloud no longer provides technical support for Windows Server 2003 images. For more information, see Introduction to Windows Server 2003 system images is no longer supported.

Considerations for Linux and UNIX-like distributions

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 instances. Alibaba Cloud Linux 2 supports various cloud scenarios and instance types. However, Alibaba Cloud Linux 2 does not support instances of the classic network type and non-I/O optimized instances. For more information, see Overview.

  • Red Hat series
    • CentOS
    • CentOS Stream
    • Red Hat
    The following table provides a comparison among CentOS, CentOS Stream, and Red Hat.
    Operating systemSoftware package formatPackage managerFeeBenefitRelationship
    CentOS.rpmyumFree of chargeCentOS is a rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).
    Note The CentOS project announced the end of life (EOL) for CentOS Linux. CentOS Linux public images provided by Alibaba Cloud are derived from the repositories of the CentOS project. When CentOS Linux reaches its EOL, Alibaba Cloud no longer provides support for CentOS Linux.
    • CentOS is a free, community-supported and community-produced Linux distribution that is derived from the source code of Red Hat.
    • CentOS Stream is a rolling-release Linux distribution that is provided by the CentOS project.
    • They can use the same RPM package.
    • They can run the same commands.
    CentOS StreamOn December 8, 2020, the CentOS project announced that it was shifting focus from CentOS Linux to CentOS Stream. CentOS Stream is a rolling release.
    Red HatPaidStable with enterprise-level technical support.
  • Debian series
    • Debian
    • Ubuntu
    The following table provides a comparison between Debian and Ubuntu.
    Operating systemSoftware package formatPackage managerBenefitRelationship
    Debian.debaptitudeStable Ubuntu is built on the Debian architecture and infrastructure. Ubuntu is the enhanced version of Debian.
    • User-friendly system configurations
    • Timely software updates
    • Easy to use and learn
  • SUSE series
    • SUSE Linux
    • OpenSUSE
    The following table provides a comparison between openSUSE and SUSE Linux.
    Operating systemFeatureRelationship
    • 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 than openSUSE. However, official SUSE Linux Enterprise repositories contain less software than official openSUSE repositories.
    • openSUSE provides advanced software versions, better extensibility, which is suitable for desktops and servers, and free updates with technical support.
    • SUSE Linux Enterprise is more suitable for work and production environments, whereas openSUSE is more suitable for personal entertainment and professional purposes.
    • As of SUSE Linux 10.2, SUSE Linux is officially renamed openSUSE.
    • openSUSE uses the same kernel as SUSE Linux.
    SUSE Linux
  • CoreOS series
    • CoreOS is an open-source lightweight operating system based on the Linux kernel and is designed to provide infrastructure for clustered deployments. CoreOS provides automation, easy application deployment, security, reliability, and scalability. CoreOS provides the underlying functionalities that are required to deploy applications inside software containers together with a set of built-in tools for service discovery and configuration sharing.
    • Fedora is a Linux distribution that is developed by the Fedora Project and is sponsored by Red Hat. Fedora is an open-source, versatile, and innovative operating system. It is an upstream distribution of RHEL.
    • Fedora CoreOS is the official successor to CoreOS Container Linux. Fedora CoreOS is a new Fedora edition that is specifically built to run containerized workloads securely and at scale.
    Note Updates are no longer provided for CoreOS Container Linux as of May 26, 2020 based on the end-of-life announcement for CoreOS Container Linux from the Fedora CoreOS community. In light of this, Alibaba Cloud has issued the following announcements:
    • As of May 26, 2020, Alibaba Cloud no longer provides technical support for ECS instances that use the CoreOS Container Linux operating system. However, you can still use existing ECS instances that run this operating system.
    • After September 30, 2020, you are unable to use CoreOS Container Linux public images provided by Alibaba Cloud to create ECS instances.
    • As of May 26, 2020, CoreOS Container Linux can continue to be used on instances on which it is already installed. However, no security patches are available because the operating system has reached its end of life. For security purposes, we recommend that you no longer use CoreOS Container Linux images.
    • Alibaba Cloud has released Fedora CoreOS public images. The Fedora CoreOS community recommends that you use Fedora CoreOS in place of CoreOS Container Linux.
  • 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 not available in other operating systems. For more information, see FreeBSD Documentation.

  • Rocky Linux

    Rocky Linux is a community-driven enterprise-level Linux operating system and a downstream distribution of RHEL. Similar to CentOS, Rocky Linux offers stable releases for servers and is an alternative that is fully compatible with CentOS.

  • AlmaLinux

    AlmaLinux is a stable, community-driven Linux distribution that is developed by the CloudLinux team. AlmaLinux is 1:1 binary compatible with RHEL. You can replace the AlmaLinux operating system of an instance without the need to stop the instance.

Built-in software

In most cases, Alibaba Cloud Marketplace images have pre-installed runtime environment or software applications. You can purchase Alibaba Cloud Marketplace images to create instances based on your needs. For more information, see Alibaba Cloud market mirror images.

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