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What's the difference between a Long Term Support Release and a Normal Release?

I'm new to Ubuntu (and Linux) but I want to give it a go. I've spent a few evenings trying to get 10.10 to run but I think my nVidia 8400 GS is causing trouble; only recovery mode with failsafeX gets me to the desktop (low-res but seems to be fully functional otherwise).

Given that the xx.04 vesions are long-term support, I'm wondering whether it would be smarter for me to use that. I don't need to be on the cutting edge - I prefer to have a system that just works, long-term. Later I hope to move my media center and wife's netbook over too.

Why should I (not?) choose the 10.04 LTS version over the newest 10.10 version?

  • Can you clarify the problems with your Nvidia card? Is this after the driver thing pops up and asks you to install the nvidia drivers? Sounds like your problems are video driver related, not version-specific. – Jorge Castro Dec 29 '10 at 14:45
  • I'd like to keep this question focused on why/not to choose LTS. Please let me clarify the exact issues in another post (later, when I get home, and then I can @notify you). In short though, I had boot problems before and after activating the newest nvidia drivers, and after update-manager updated everything else. Running nvidia-xconfig to create a new xorg.conf didn't fix it either. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Dec 29 '10 at 14:51
  • @all, I just wanted to thank you for the very friendly and quick answers. I feel welcome here, and that's a great step in you convincing/converting me away from Windows. So thanks! – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Dec 29 '10 at 19:49
  • @jorge-castro, here's the Nvidia question, fresh off the press: askubuntu.com/questions/19457 – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Dec 30 '10 at 18:49
  • (Turns out the Nvidia problem was not related to Ubuntu at all, but rather the monitor didn't send correct information back to the graphics card. Once I typed the missing values into xorg.conf manually, everything worked as it should.) – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Feb 23 '11 at 19:02

You said so yourself:

I don't need to be on the cutting edge - I prefer to have a system that just works, long-term.

In my humble opinion, Ubuntu 10.10 is an amazing release with a lot of cool stuff planned for 11.04 next, however, it also makes a lot more sense to go from LTS to LTS. What works for you in 10.04 will always work for you until the end of life. Stay will 10.04 until your curiosity overwhelms or you have a particular feature you know you need from a newer release.

  • Keep in mind that the 'short term' is still 18 months :-) – Stefano Palazzo Dec 29 '10 at 14:50
  • Also, remember to not add a lot of ppas. PPAs packages are not very well builded (dont conform to the debian standard) and can break your system (especially after a bunch of releases). – Marcos Roriz Junior Dec 29 '10 at 16:04
  • mh. PPAs packages are almost a must for powerusers... at least until Mark decides to make an Ubuntu rolling distro. – OpenNingia Dec 29 '10 at 16:27
  • Well, I don't see myself as a Linux power user yet ;) only on Windows. Given this fact, would I be missing any 10.10 must-have (newbie!) stuff if I stick to 10.04 LTS? – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Dec 29 '10 at 19:45
  • @StefanoPalazzo not any more. now short support is 9 months starting from 13.04 while long term support expanded to 5 years for both desktop and server starting from 12.04LTS – Muhammad Annaqeeb Jan 1 '14 at 1:19

Welcome to Ubuntu the OS and it's underlying community! First off 10.10 isn't cutting edge - it's a bonafide release. Cutting edge would be running the current Alpha which is 11.04. You can find out more with What's the difference between a Long Term Support Release and a Normal Release?.

Ubuntu does a really good job of keeping all it's "supported" releases up-to-date. 10.04 will simply be supported longer for security updates than 10.10 - However, for all intents and purposes 10.10 is the current release. 10.04 is the current LTS, and 11.04 is the current Alpha (soon beta, then sometime in April current). The way I look at releases. If I'm installing Ubuntu on a computer I always reach for current unless this is a server or a machine that needs to remain stable due to it's functionality. Normal desktop/laptop machines though - current. The upgrade process from Release to Release point has become very streamlined.

Personally, I run at least one machine with LTS only - I like to think of it as my fallback. I rarely do any hardware modifications to it and I always need it to "just work". It also negates the task of needing to perform upgrades on it every 6 months.

However, I don't think using 10.04 is going to address your video issue. In fact I think that's entirely independent of what version you're using and may merit a new question in order to address that concern.

  • Thanks for the warm welcome! I messed a little with Ubuntu last year and had the same(?) video issue then. The solution that worked on 9.04 back then didn't help me this time round on 10.10: superuser.com/questions/60290 – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Dec 29 '10 at 14:59
  • @torbengb You may want to try asking here. The way xorg-xserver functions in Ubuntu has changed dramatically since 9.04 – Marco Ceppi Dec 29 '10 at 15:09
  • Interesting. I didn't know about askubuntu back then. As said in my comment to Jorge above, I'll put that issue in a separate question "soonish". – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Dec 29 '10 at 15:13
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    @torbengb That's because we didn't exist then :D – Marco Ceppi Dec 29 '10 at 15:15

It really depends what you want to do with it. LTS is built for stability. If you're concerned, you should use LTS. If you just want to see the latest shiniest new things that are coming out, I would update to the latest one. I've never really stuck to LTS for any long period of time, but I'm a chronic updater. I tend to be on betas when they come out.

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