Stable server

dpk dpk at
Wed Aug 17 14:45:32 GMT 2005

On Tue, 16 Aug 2005, Nikolas Britton wrote:

> 4.x compared to 5.x will always be more stable
> 5.x compared to 6.x will always be more stable
> 6.x compared to 7.x will al....
> Do you see a trend? 4.x works now but what about in another year, two
> years, or three?

I expect it should work just fine in 3 years -- when we purchase hardware
we expect it to last at least that long, and there's rarely a truly
compelling reason to replace the OS on a server.

> Try running the last version of 3.x on today's
> hardware and software, 4.x is already having problems with hardware
> support.

Unfortunately, yeah. 3ware's "auto-carving" feature (available in 5.4-S)
would not work on 4.x as an example. There may be other things, but 4.11
works on relatively standard hardware you can purchase today.

> FreeBSD 6 already has a -STABLE and it's first release is
> just around the corner, It would be unwise to deploy 4.x unless
> specifically needed.... If you need to build the next Mars rover or a
> persons life depends on the system working then use 4.x, If your
> deploying a new web server or what not you want 5.x, possibly even 6.x
> if you can wait another month or two.

It depends. I am really concerned about security updates being backported.
While I feel I'm probably capable of handling it myself, if I had to, by
reviewing patches submitted for later versions, I feel more confident in
the patch when it has been peer-reviewed. The fact is that FreeBSD's 4.11
release is scheduled to have patches long past 5.4, and I have to take
that into account when making recommendations to our clients. I don't want
to have to tell a customer: Install this OS, but in a year, you'll want to
install a different OS, and then deal with incompatibilities with the
software you've purchased for your sites.

The way I see it, every major release of FreeBSD takes some time to reach
stability -- the classic "be wary of x.0 versions" rule applies here as
with almost all software. Stable versions for web servers have been (in my
experience): FreeBSD 2.2.(something, I don't remember, 5?), 3.2, 4.5. 5's
appears to be 5.4, which so far seems to be pretty great, but was only
just recently released May 9th and is set to EOL in about 10 months.

Anyways, to the OP, it all depends on how long you want this particular
solution to be deployed. I'd keep an eye on the security page (of course).
There may be a company/set of hackers out there that would be able to
backport fixes to FreeBSD 5.4 after it expires, in case you're not able to
deploy the most recent version on that date.

I do stand by my recommendation of 4.11, because it is "the pinnacle"
before some architectural changes, and if it's anything like 4.5 or 3.2 it
should give you years of quality.

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