You have various options. Each OS is going to have strengths and weaknesses in the categories you listed. The fact is that most of the operating systems on the market, if installed and configured correctly, along with proper routine maintenance, following best practices, will result in a low spec, easy to use, secure, and well performing operating system.
Unfortunately for Windows, they have made it too easy to acquire the product and install through wizards with alot of roles and features enabled by default. This type of scenario increases the chance of system instability, exposure to malware, etc..
Some of the other non-Windows operating systems may be stereo-typed as being better with regard to security, but the reality is that due to the low integration into the market, those that develop malware traditional do not target the non-windows systems.
If you are working on a project, I would suggest that you choose an operating system that you are not familiar with so that you can take advantage of this as a learning opportunity.
Use Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, for your server, will save you hassle with things breaking when updates come out.
My network setup is basically this:
In terms of Servers, I have a Red Hat (5.x) Server that Does DNS/DHCP as well as PXE(TFTP), NFS, and Samba (A proper windows domain, with roaming profiles etc..). Basically this runs backups and has our home drives and OS images on it.
Secondly, I have a Debian (Lenny) Server acting as a LAMP server, also media/file streaming hub.
In terms of Clients, I have some Ubuntu PCs (x2) - Nice to have my same home directory replicated everywhere. If one breaks, I can just reinsall it by netbooting. One of these is also a print server. Lastly, there is Windows 7 Laptop which also makes use of roaming profiles and the shares, and I can also use the printer on one of the ubuntu boxes.
Windows vs. Linux: Installation, maintenance and security
Both Windows and Linux offer pros and cons. Windows is easy to install and run in its default mode, includes an array of drivers for virtually any type of hardware and has the widest variety of software available.
On the other hand, it suffers from frequent security problems and requires critical patches that usually involve rebooting. It is also expensive, from the initial purchase price of the OS and applications to the ongoing maintenance required to keep it stable and updated. Linux requires careful
includes an array of drivers for virtually any type of hardware and has the widest variety of software available
For desktop, yes not for servers. All my servers hardware works out of the box on RHEL. It's a formally supported system, indeed it is windows that's the pain win drivers in my case. Same with servers. DNS, web, DHCP, all run on UNiXlike systems. Indeed, that's their origin.