I will be talking soon about the advantages of upgrading or installing a newer release of Ubuntu instead of sticking to an older version. A behavior I tend to attribute to Windows users where they stick to an older version of Windows for a long time (Try to picture somebody staying with Ubuntu 5.10 up until now and asking why it has X problem with it)

So what advantages does an end user get when upgrading or installing a newer version or the latest version of Ubuntu and why is something important to be always up to date in the Ubuntu/Linux world.

  • This could go either way. First one has to ask "why do I need to upgrade if everything is working and I am happy with my system". This may be interesting to see the reasons behind moving to a different release.
    – Ringtail
    Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 17:43
  • Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but it seems your question is directed toward individual users and not enterprise? It might be illuminating to compare and contrast the needs of both groups. Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 17:44

2 Answers 2


Reasons to stay up-to-date:

1) Security. All software has bugs, and code that is exposed to the outside world, either due to being accessible by the outside world (i.e. ssh), reaching out to the outside world (i.e. browsers) or dealing with data you get from the outside world (i.e. gimp opening downloaded images), all of this code can be exploited by virus/malware writers to do bad things to your system.

2) Bugs. Even bugs that don't cause security issues can be annoying, and newer software tends to fix older bugs.

3) Hardware support. Newer versions of the operating system are sometimes required to work with new devices, especially if you're running an '05 version and you now want to connect to a new TYPE of device (that may not have even been invented in '05).

4) Features. Newer software usually has more features, and can do more of what you want.

Reasons to not stay up-to-date:

1) Bugs. Yeah, newer features mean newer bugs, so this is a double-edged sword.

2) Features. Sometimes (i.e. Gnome 3) new features mean your software won't work the same way it used to, and that can be annoying. Thinking about my mom here, and the fact that once she gets used to doing things a certain way, she usually doesn't want to change (at least not without a compelling reason).

The first four points apply to all programs and operating systems, but specifically as they relate to Ubuntu:

1) All active O/S's provide security patches; I prefer Ubuntu, since as a subscriber to their security list, I have a pretty good handle on what I'm updating when the patches are suggested by the update-manager.

2) All software has bugs; I prefer Ubuntu, since as a programmer I can poke around and submit a bug report or patch and have a better likelihood that there's a human on the other end that cares. Anecdotal, to be sure, but I've done this a few times with open source programs; never felt it worth my time with commercial software.

3) I punt on this one, and only used hardware that I know Ubuntu supports well. It's not a bad tactic to use for Windows as well, as they have driver issues themselves.

4) Given the typically free-as-in-beer nature of Ubuntu, upgrading to get new features has no sticker shock, making it a much nicer process than with other O/S's. Just go and grab various programs and give them a spin.

Bottom line here, I think, is that the reasons you SHOULD stay up-to-date are the same for all programs and operating systems, but Ubuntu makes it better in various ways to ACTUALLY stay up-to-date. (YMMV.)

  • This is a good answer for general reasons, but what aspects do you think are more (or less) relevant for Ubuntu specifically? Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 17:51
  • 2
    True, CS; just added reasons I like Ubuntu, related to each reason to update. Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 18:25
  • Great! If I may paraphrase your advantages: 1) More open-ness, commercial vendors are less likely to explain what they fixed 2) More personal communication -- you are reaching a real developer, not a customer service rep 4) Great point here...if Windows upgrades were free, probably a lot more people would do so. Perhaps #3 is the only real weakness, but should get better over time. Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 18:44
  • Re #3, I hope so. Open hardware (and/or more clueful hardware vendors) would make this easier. Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 20:24

I make a few assumptions in my reply.

Requirements of the individual will determine if an upgrade is warranted or not. A corporate using Ubuntu will be better off sticking to a Long Term Release (LTS) of Ubuntu for stability reasons and to minimize disruption and benefit from Ubuntu Support. I would not upgrade until the next LTS was available... As a private individual it makes sense to upgrade with the Ubuntu release time-line for the following reasons:

  1. Hardware mostly drives Software development, the more powerful the hardware the more options become available to software developers, Ubuntu is no exception. While the kernel is not maintained by Ubuntu itself, newer versions of the kernel are released periodically, be it minor or major. The kernel is the interface between the hardware and the software. As an end user when you purchase, for example, a new webcam, or a new laptop you are most likely purchasing current hardware, you need the latest kernel to be able to run that hardware properly, Ubuntu is constantly providing kernel revisions and so keeping up with the latest releases increases the chances of your new hardware working with Ubuntu.

  2. Web development is prolific, has been and will be for a good few years to come, we have witnessed the likes of Facebook and twitter being integrated into almost every piece of technology we use, again Ubuntu is no exception, it has evolved along with these social web technology's and integrated them more tightly into every new release. We have become reliant on these technologies and therefore by upgrading to the latest version of Ubuntu we ensure we have the tools to make best use of these technologies.

  3. The more obvious among the bunch are security patches, bugs and so forth, but most of these are covered in the Ubuntu Updates for as long as the version of Ubuntu you are running is supported.

  4. In the past few releases we have seen Ubuntu change it's desktop layout from the more common drop-down (Gnome), menu approach to using Unity. Upgrading along with every new release has slowly introduced Unity to the user, those who didn't necessarily like it could use the old drop-down approach but it was made clear that Unity would inevitably be the default in future releases. Users then have a chance to try, test, prod, Unity rather than jumping to a release where it was the only option. This logic applies for all features of the Ubuntu OS of course, Shotwell becoming the default image viewer is just another example.

Finally, Microsoft evolves it's OS over a very long time and tries to reinvent it's OS which leaves the user hesitant to upgrade because of the huge differences and learning curve involved. If Microsoft approached their OS upgrades the same way Ubuntu, or more so Linux does, the user would feel more comfortable and be eased into the newer OS more comfortably, another reason why keeping up with the new releases of Ubuntu is a good idea.

These are my views and opinions, they are accurate to my knowledge & understanding and meant only to assist with the question and not rewrite the law :)

  • 1
    +1 because you also made some good points there. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 18:05

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