Microsoft and Linux are finally playing nice

With the release of SQL Server 2017 Microsoft pushed the envelope and rocked the database world. The company that always said “Windows and only Windows,” decided that it was time to make a version of SQL Server that will run on Linux. And while this does seem like a direct threat to SQL Server’s largest competitor, Oracle, Microsoft is stating that isn’t their intention. The intention was to make SQL Server truly cross platform. With the addition of Linux, SQL server can now run on all three major Operating Systems (Windows, OS X, & Linux).

While that all sounds amazing, it does also raise a lot of questions. What are the system requirements? How is performance on Linux compared to Windows? What Linux distros are supported? What features are supported on Linux? And of course, how much will it cost? We’ve done the analysis for you, so you can focus on making the best choice possible for your IT environment.

System Requirements

Linux has a much smaller footprint than Windows which enables it to run on much smaller systems. But then how does that effect performance? SQL Server can be a resource hog and if there is a lot of read/write activity SQL will gobble up all the resources you can throw at it. So running SQL on tiny machines is not recommended, but because Linux requires less system resources, it does open the door to some new possibilities. SQL Server requirements are the same across all platforms, requiring a minimum of 2GB of system RAM and 2 CPU cores. This combination allows for smaller systems and smaller VM’s to function as SQL Servers.


According to IT Pro Today, it was Microsoft’s goal to deliver, at the very least, equal performance on Linux when compared to Windows. In our testing, performance on Linux exceeded expectations. It seems to perform better on Linux. There is a bit of a learning curve because Management Studio (SSMS) can’t be installed on Linux. However, connecting to SQL on Linux from a Windows Machine through SSMS really brought the beauty forward. It functions exactly like SQL on Windows would and inserts and deletes seemed to actually run slightly faster than their Windows counterpart.

Linux Distro Support

According to Microsoft, SQL Server 2017 is currently supported on three common Disro’s: Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Ubuntu. It can also run as a Docker image, which then allows it to run on Docker Engine on Linux or Docker for Windows or Mac. This is just the beginning, more support is planning as the community grows and with the expected release of SQL Server 2019 later this year.

PlatformSupported Version
Red Hat Enterprise Linux7.3 or 7.4
SUSE Linux Enterprise Serverv12 SP2
Ubuntu16.04 & up
Docker Engine1.8+


Feature Support

While the Core database engine, SQL Agent, Full Test search, and Integration Services (SSIS) are supported, many other features such as SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), Reporting Services (SSRS) and Analysis Services (SSAS) are not supported. A complete list can be found on Microsoft’s Website at

Cost and Conclusion

SQL Server on Linux uses the same price model as on any other Operating system. Enterprise and Standard are priced per core at $14,256.00 and $3,717.00 respectively. Express and Developer remain free. One area you can save costs is by not having to purchase a Windows Server license. The bottom line is this is Microsoft’s first foray in the Linux world and it is not without its faults. While seeing Microsoft and Linux work together brings joy to many database professionals, there are a number of missing features that make SQL Server great. It is important to remember that this is only the beginning and the features that do function, function extremely well. The future is bright for SQL on Linux as it can only get better. The last bastion of safety for Microsoft’s biggest competitors was Linux. With SQL Server 2017, Microsoft is knocking at the door. We can’t wait to see what the 2019 release of SQL Server has in store.

Want more information? Check out the official Microsoft video below.


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