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I was confused about why my new server had CentOS 5.9 installed on it, when CentOS 6.3 is available.

But CentOS 5.9, it turns out, is actually the latest release.

Why are 5.x versions being released when they are a dead end that will lose full support barely 1 year from now?

Is there any reason to install CentOS 5.9 on a new server instead of a 6.x? Is there any reason to avoid 6.x? I assumed that 6 > 5.

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Is this question inappropriate for serverfault? Is it worded badly? Or is my downvote stalker still following me around the site? –  Buttle Butkus Feb 26 '13 at 22:17
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Maybe somebody thought you didn't do your research prior to asking? –  Michael Hampton Feb 26 '13 at 22:18
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I did some research, but there was no clear answer as to why 5.9 exists at all, when one could theoretically upgrade from 5.7 to 6.0. I googled "CentOS 5.9 vs 6.3". I read the Wikipedia page and other pages. There were no satisfying answers. No one's answered it here either. So I figured, why not add this to the library of useful serverfault questions with satisfying answers. Alternatively, I could have spent another 30-60 minutes researching, found the answer, and not asked the question. I often do that, rather than submit myself to the fury of my downvote stalker. –  Buttle Butkus Feb 26 '13 at 22:23
    
I believe you'll find the link explains it in excruciating detail. –  Michael Hampton Feb 26 '13 at 22:27

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

point releases update the main branch, so 5.1 is newer than 5.0. When 6.0 came out it got its own point releases (6.1, 6.2, 6.3). These are usually bug fixes, security fixes, or minor updates to packages - there's no major re-engineering that happens in a point release, but you shouldn't ignore them if one comes out for your version as it could be patching security holes.

hence; 5.9 is the newest 5.X release. 6.3 is the newest 6.X release.

The only real reason to install 5.X over 6.X is if you have to. i.e: some software doesn't yet work with 6, which is usually unlikely but depends on the software in question. Also many people wait for the first point release (6.1 say) before leaving the older branch - to allow time for any slightly more serious security issues to be addressed, should any occur.

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That's different than, say, PHP, isn't it? I believe with PHP there are no parallel tracks. –  Buttle Butkus Feb 26 '13 at 22:19
    
Not sure, i don't use php. Some projects do similar, but not always for the same reasons. Python 3 is not backward compatible with python 2 for instance, or apache http with 2.0 2.2 and 2.4 release branches. It's stretching the analogy a bit though. - in short, centos does it as X.0 releases are regarded as major (and infrequent) releases which have big architectural changes in them, and the point releases update those while they are in their supported life time. –  Sirex Feb 26 '13 at 22:28
    
Or just that you originally installed 5.x, and are happy with it. RHEL is suported for many years, so why migrate if not really needed? –  vonbrand Feb 27 '13 at 0:36
    
@vonbrand I read that 5.x is only supported through early 2014 for full updates, while 6.x goes through mid 2017. In that case, any reason to choose 5.x when setting up a new machine? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CentOS –  Buttle Butkus Feb 27 '13 at 1:07
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@ButtleButkus, as an earlier comment says, if you have something that only runs on RHEL 5, you are stuck. If it is a new installation, I'd go with the latest (unless you already have everything else running on 5, or your shop is so optimized for 5 that it is hard to upgrade). –  vonbrand Feb 27 '13 at 1:14

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