I'm considering migrating from Debian to Ubuntu Server. I have read several posts on this site about the differences.

I like the 5 year support. But then I realised that on Debian I have sometimes needed later versions of packages (e.g. drush) and I've been able to install these by use of the backports repository.

Ubuntu has a backports project but this does not look offical/suitable for Ubuntu Server?

So does it require a full upgrade to the latest Ubuntu Server LTS (e.g. might be 14.04)?

  • 1
    See this: List of packages in precise-backports. That's now something more than one year after the release and in my opinion it's not very useful now. However, for Ubuntu you have a lot more PPAs (most less reliable though). – gertvdijk Jun 24 '13 at 13:20

In general , backports on Ubuntu is as easy and reliable as backports on Debian (they tend to have the same maintainers). Support can vary a little by package. Backports are, IMO, no more or less official or supported on Ubuntu then Debian. IMO the advice on backports is very very similar between Debian and Ubuntu.

Backports cannot be tested as extensively as Debian stable, and backports are provided on an as-is basis, with risk of incompatibilities with other components in Debian stable. Use with care!

It is therefore recommended to only select single backported packages that fit your needs, and not use all available backports.


The Backports Project is a means to provide new features to users. Because of the inherent stability risks in backporting packages, users do not get backported packages without some explicit action on their part. This generally makes backports an inappropriate avenue for fixing bugs. If a package in an Ubuntu release has a bug, it should be fixed either through the Security Update or the Stable Release Update process, as appropriate.


It also depends on what you need. Some packages are going to be available in either backports or a ppa, and some you will need to build from source, which is a pain on a server (I do not like to install gcc / build-essential on a server unless absolutely necessary).

In general, due to the lower number of packages, upgrades on a server are easier then upgrades on a Desktop.

In general, I would advise you stay with LTS if at all possible on a server, but if your unique set of packages / requirements require a higher version, go with the most recent release. 14.04 is still in development and I would personally not run 14.04 on a server for anything but testing.

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