What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a PPA that's designed for your version of Ubuntu, versus using a "normal" package, but one designed for a different version of Ubuntu?

Background: We'll soon be installing Lucid Lynx, and Lucid's Ruby1.9.1 package is based on Ruby 1.9.1-376. There are PPAs that have Ruby 1.9.2 and are designed for Lucid. And later releases of Ubuntu have packages that are based on Ruby 1.9.2 (but the package is still called Ruby 1.9.1 for perfectly logical reasons). What factors should I consider in deciding whether to use a PPA, or a package designed for a different Ubuntu version?

(I'm not anticipating using RVM or installing from source, because we want admin to be as risk-free as possible)


"(I'm not anticipating using RVM or installing from source, because we want admin to be as risk-free as possible)"

First off, whenever you use a package from a different version of ubuntu.. or a PPA version, you risk severely complicating your dpkg database because it's dependencies may require upgrades as well (according to dpkg, at least)

The PPA is a much safer approach because it's made for lucid and therefore should be built on dependencies available in lucid.

Installing from source or RVM is actually an even safer approach because it allows you to install outside of your dpkg database. This is what I've preferred doing in the past.
I am not sure what risk you think comes with installing from source, but from my experience.. there isn't any. The only problem is that it's not managed by a package manager and will not automatically update or uninstall. But this is actually what we want in this case.

EDIT: I guess the risk is that someone might be incompetent and forget to document what they installed, etc. Just make sure you do the following-

  1. Document what you installed.
  2. Keep the source files in a directory in case you wish to do a make uninstall

I usually just keep a "installed" directory with all the source trees I have compiled and installed. That's enough documentation for me.

  • +1, and note that sometimes even if newer package version does not break dependencies, it may work improperly, because of the difference in compiler version etc. between Ubuntu releases. – Rafał Cieślak Aug 4 '11 at 14:38
  • My assumption was that installing from source was like a manual over-ride: the OS won't stop you doing something "wrong". – Andrew Grimm Aug 4 '11 at 23:18

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