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I'm a developer by trade but I've been asked to maintain our Ubuntu servers and am in need of some general advice as I don't really have any experience in this area...

  1. Does apt-get upgrade only update Ubuntu with minor incremental patches (e.g. if you start on 12.04 LTS you will always stay on 12.04 LTS) or does it also do major release upgrades as well?

  2. We are running a standard LAMP server but it is for a product that is used 24 hours a day so it is important we minimise downtime. Will doing the standard aptitude upgrades cause downtime for the users? Will the server need restarting afterwards? Does it restart automatically? etc

  3. Ideally we would like to run the minor updates without testing, so do the patches ever contain things that might break compatibility with something or are they purely just bug fixes and security enhancements?

If anyone has any nifty tips/tricks as well it'd be great to hear.

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nifty tip/trick: You can create your own repository of ubuntu packages. Then you can update the repo, and then update your systems from that. Otherwise if you have a rolling update of your systems going on, they may not all match because the Ubuntu repo is a moving target. eg, help.ubuntu.com/community/Repositories/Personal –  Craig Constantine Mar 26 '13 at 17:08
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Welcome to ServerFault! Generally we ask one question per question here, but since you're new I'll forgive you this one time :)

  1. You will stay on 12.04.x LTS, so you will get upgrades that are equivalent to 12.04.x releases, but not 12.10
  2. Yes, it will cause downtime as e.g. apache updates restart apache. You will also need to reboot for kernel updates. If you want high availability, that's a completely different subject :)
  3. Sometimes security fixes require backwards incompatible changes. In my experience, this occurs rarely though and is always announced properly in the ubuntu security notices.
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Perfect, thanks –  MeatPopsicle Mar 26 '13 at 13:54
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