I'm setting up 2 servers at a small school. Wondering if I should use the latest version (always my instinct) or go with 10.04LTS.

1. FILE SERVER: Main file server Single Sign On with LDAP and NFS probably Kerberos. Migrating users and their home dirs from a CentOS (release 5-4el5) NIS + NFS system. I might try to squeeze some life out of some aging pentium3s by running them as thin clients off this machine.

2. PROXY DNS, DHCP, Squid, Dansguardian, CUPS print server.

Also one of these has to be nominated to do some Samba sharing for our Xerox Docucentre IV to send scans to, as I can't seem to get it to work with FTP, but that is another story...

Clients are mostly running older Fedora versions, but most are going to be moved to current Ubuntu or Xubuntu, as hardware permits. Laptop users have mixed OSes and phones and iPads are all over the network. Only going for single sign on for desktops at the moment.

What are the pros and cons of choosing the latest OS version over older versions?

  • The latest version (11.10) is about GUI, Unity, and other desktop-side applications. For a server, it about: stability, remote access, support, and minimal care & feeding. Can you clarify: Are there any new features, NOT already in 10.04 LTS, that you might need for your fileserver (or proxy)? – david6 Nov 21 '11 at 22:10

It's quite simple in my eyes:

  • LTS - proven, known stable, no nasty surprises waiting for you, but you have slightly older packages.
  • Latest - take your chances with stability (though Ubuntu is normally quite good), at the benefit of newer packages.

Which should you use? I would lay down your feature requirements and see if the packages in LTS can provide you with it. If you need something that's only been added since LTS, then you'll have to look at the latest one, otherwise the choice is easy.

  • inter-LTS releases are technically quite "stable", and often have a lot more bugs fixed than the older LTS. stability, in this case, is "not changing" and has very little to do with expected uptime of the server or services deployed on it. – SpamapS Nov 21 '11 at 23:59

10.04 will be supported until April 2015. 11.10 will only be supported until April 2013. 10.04 has been in use for a longer period of time, which means it'll likely be more solid and secure. Using the newest versions is not always a good idea. In fact, I would recommend using the oldest supported software possible for services like that.

  • Beware, 10.04 desktop edition support expires April 2013, same as 11.10. I just checked, and Jo is right about the server edition though. – ams Nov 21 '11 at 15:31
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    The software he's talking about is supported until 2015, regardless of whether it's installed from the desktop or server edition. Non-server apps will become unsupported after April 2013 though. You can use the ubuntu-support-status command to get a detailed list. – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Nov 21 '11 at 15:33
  • +1, Its worth noting that NIS and dansguardian are both in universe, meaning they don't actually have any guarantee of support or updates, though the community will usually help with the maintenance. – SpamapS Nov 21 '11 at 23:57

Assuming the LTS supports your hardware, I don't see much difference.

  • The server software will be fine in both - it's quite mature.
  • Both OS will reach end-of-life at around the same time, so you'll have to upgrade to 12.04LTS anyway.

It might be worth considering whether you or your users will see much of the desktop of this machine (VNC/NX)? If so, I'd say go with 11.10 because then the upgrade to 12.04 will be less of a paradigm shift.

Basically, for now, take your pick, then upgrade to 12.04LTS and stick with it - you don't want to update a shared server every 6 months (too much risk of disruption).

  • That's not true. For server applications, 10.04 is supported two years longer than 11.10. – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Nov 21 '11 at 15:34

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