You will find a lot of Linux distributions to select from! What's the "best" linux flavor for any website hosting atmosphere running mainly: Apache HTTP, Tomcat or JBoss, MySQL and Alfresco (not always all within the same instance).
What are the significant variations when it comes to easy administration and configuration, performance and stability for such programs, etc.?
An amount you recommend?
All of them use similar tools to manage such things as webmin, and sshd.
What exactly are you more acquainted with. Red-colored Hat based systems(fedora, mandriva) or Debian based systems(Ubuntu). This family divide will determine a couple of things. First revoltions per minute packaging versus n packaging.
You should also consider the activity level from the project. Mandriva and Ubuntu are two good examples of active distributions. That try to maintain current releases of software.
Apart from that most stuff works with little difference.
Additionally you may want to consider OpenSolaris, because it is in the same company which developed Java to begin with and I have heard whispers, it supports threads much better than Linux does as well as in Java threads are very important.
No, not necessarily.
It really is more lower towards the packages you put in compared to distribution you take.
For stability people always recommend Cent OS since it is poor people guys RHE (as with it's essentially RHE but free-as-in-beer)
I have generally been fine with common Debian (Ubuntu has its own caveats that sometimes hit you at wrong occasions). Granted it takes a little of configuration upfront but then, its stable as anything. I generally avoid using databases unless of course they are very general stuff but instead compile things myself in the n packages. It gives a little with additional control over what you want related to the body and you will optimize to some extent. Presently, I am running Tomcat 6 on Debian for many several weeks with no large problems.
However, I believe the debian family is a lot more friendly to implement even things you don't genuinely have much idea on or if you wish to implement something fast or if you are testing out something within the site. In a perfect world, I'd do testing inside a different machine or chroot, but hey I am only a lazy sysadmin sometimes :)
I have been having fun with an entire Sun stack also it appears to become working well to date.
I deploy .war files coded in Groovy with Grails but you will find increasingly more choices for implementing PHP and Ruby solutions. If price is important, Sun gets very aggressive joining up with website hosts to supply free hosting for just one year. I've not had many obstacles but sometimes I must lookup command syntax since i have had not used Solaris before.
It is dependent entirely on which tools (particularly commercial) you are using. Most Linux stuff is distributed for RHEL (Redhat Enterprise Linux) which means you are often best off by using their. Centos is really a free distribution depending on RHEL (actually it's almost identical) so confirmed vendor's stuff may even work exactly the same there.
Additionally, it is dependent on hardware support. If you are using (for instance) Dell servers, they support RHEL, but most likely not e.g. Ubuntu so you want to utilize a distro that is based on your hardware vendor or their tools might not work.
It isn't a situation of "best" for hosting web programs, however for use within an industrial located atmosphere. We use Centos therefore we may use RHEL stuff.
you pointed out Linux and java. You didn't mention other activities as an Appserver, LDAP server, DB Server.
With individuals things considered, you'd be best served by REDHAT, fedora, CentOS and Suse/OpenSuse. Ubuntu won't hurt since there is a relationship with Sun consider JBoss has end up part of REdhat, I'd believe that Redhat based distros ought to be very good.
I have used Redhat/Fedora and OpenSuse to operate banking production applications plus they are very good. Dell offers good support for Redhat + JAVA + ORACLE.