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I have recently moved from doing web development on a from-home basis (with simple Wordpress edits and such) to more of a full time position.

This means I am now, to a small degree, dealing with server management as well. I know that, for instance, with the bigger packages like PHP, Moodle, Alfresco etc etc, I can check their forums to gauge user acceptance before applying an update. However, I also see alot of package updates for other packages (generally library packages mainly used for dependencies), like libpql or libssl.

Googling these just tends to get me alot of the package list websites that have the package but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of talk about them and their latest updates (at least, not that I am finding). Up until I started this job, I would have just applied them off the bat, with the thought-process being "If Ubuntu has them on their package list, they've been checked as stable". A few months of dealing with the bugs that DO make it into releases of larger packages (like Alfresco, Moodle), however, has made me more wary.

Is there a good place I can look for information about these packages, can I just assume that "no news is good news" for packages I don't see anything about when googling, or perhaps do I just bite the bullet and accept that I can't know for sure, so make sure my backup plan is working (it is)?

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You bite the bullet and accept that you can't know for sure. Unless you enable the backports repository, the only updates pushed in stable Ubuntu releases are patches to fix critical bugs and security vulnerabilities, after they have been reviewed and tested in the -testing repository. Only minimal patches are allowed so they can be reviewed and the chances of breakage that the review process misses are small.

For more details, see https://wiki.ubuntu.com/StableReleaseUpdates

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Thanks very much, this answers my question and the linked documentation was very informative. –  Chris May 25 '12 at 1:50

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