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Is Ubuntu LTS + a few backports + a few ppa apps better than normal Ubuntu server for production? Specifically, if the backports and ppa apps you are including are satisfied by a more recent normal Ubuntu server is it worth sticking with backports? Or, is it a bad idea to expose ourselves to all of the other changes in order to use rapidly developing apps from the main ubuntu archives (viz. puppet)?

Does anyone have a precedence for choosing LTS vs. normal because of these issues?

Honestly, my gut feeling at this point is that it might be better to switch from LTS to the normal server line and use pure ubuntu archives and yet there is still fear in my heart.

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I'm gonna try switching to normal ubuntu on an internal services server since if things break for a day once in 6 months thats not so bad. I'll update my thoughts later too. –  bias Oct 26 '11 at 17:22
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As far as I understand with 'normal' ubuntu you are forced to do upgrade (=reinstall) every 6 or so months. While LTS is supported for 5 years.

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The support for a non-LTS release is officially 18 months from the initial release. When you do upgrade a non-LTS release, you can only upgrade to the next release, you can't skip a release. –  Zoredache Oct 25 '11 at 19:42
    
Right, so the question is how "violent" is a distribution upgrade? In contrast with how tricky it is to self manage a bunch of packages? –  bias Oct 26 '11 at 17:19
    
Ok, but 18 moths is still too little. And even if upgrade is supported, doint this every 18 moths is too painfull (imagine you have 10+ machines each with different hardware, and each of them can fail the upgrade in different ways). –  rvs Oct 27 '11 at 6:48
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