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I have been digging around for an answer to this question and have come up with a handful of benchmarks and a whole lot of promotional material but it's not clear to me what to choose.

If I am setting up a new rails 3.1 front-end server, what version of ubuntu (11.04 or 11.10) should I choose?

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3 Answers 3

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Here are some of the considerations that go into this decision for me (not specific to rails):

  • Neither of these is an LTS release, so both reach their end of life for support 18 months after release. 11.10 was just released this month. 11.04 is already 6 months into its release, so reaches end of life in one year.

  • 11.10 will have newer versions of the various software packages and applications. This can be great for getting the latest features in new projects.

  • 11.04 has been around for half a year, so is less likely to have undiscovered bugs. If I'm launching a project that needs to have less risk in the immediate future, I'll generally avoid a new release until it's aged a month or two.

  • 11.10 may get problems addressed more quickly than older releases as it's the most recent. It might also get better support on EC2 if that's where you're thinking of running.

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Avoid Ubuntu 11.10 in production for a couple more months to allow bugs to be found and resolved.

Yesterday we learnt this the hard way when we re-deployed a site that has been running on Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty) for the last 3 months to an Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric) instance. By the next day we had already identified 2 major issues:

  • PHP's session cleanup cron job was using 100% CPU by forking fuser for each session (forum), causing 503s to users. We reverted to the 11.04 version of the cron job.

  • Apache logs were full of "408" (client request timeout) errors, which we still haven't diagnosed.

There may be others lurking, so we decided to go back to 11.04. Fortunately our deploy scripts made it relatively quick to provision 11.04-based instances to swap into the load balancer.

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I never had this happened with 11.04, but a few days after building a 11.10 instance I ended up loosing SSH access to it, this never happened 11.04. I would consider it, or one of the LTS releases!

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I just wanted to point out this was the result of a poor configuration on my part that was causing the instance to attempt to attach a disk twice )-8 –  jordan.baucke Oct 29 '11 at 23:50

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