From Debian to Ubuntu on servers

Over the past few months, all the new servers I’ve set up have been running Ubuntu, rather than Debian. The three killer reasons for me are:

  1. Package versions: Debian is just too far behind with some packages. Whilst older packages might be acceptable for some core pieces of software (e.g. Postfix), in the age of software which requires up to date libraries (e.g. NodeJS) it is becoming harder to run things on Debian.
  2. Release certainty: I know that there will be a new Ubuntu release every April and October, which helps me plan upgrades in May/June and November/December. Debian on the other hand has no release date for its next version.
  3. Smooth upgrades: Whilst I have had issues once or twice on the desktop, Ubuntu server upgrades have gone far more smoothly than Debian. With each Debian release there has been something which has completely broken my servers and required manual intervention (e.g. changing the name for included Apache virtual hosts). I think this is partly down to the fact that Ubuntu releases come out more frequently, so I’m less likely to make a major version jump, rather than anything to do with Debian QA/testing.

There’s also a minor side benefit in that I run Ubuntu on all my desktops, so I’m already familiar with its quirks.

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