Can linux be configured as a server or workstation in DCS?

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http://unix.stackexchange.com – I am a student of Instrumentation and Control. Considering the versatility and stability of Linux, I was wondering if Linux can be configured to act as a Distributed Control System? Also if yes, which distro would be appropriate? I have basic knowledge of Linux shell scripting so I would prefer the distro to be relatively user-friendly. (HowTos)