Server OS suggestions

Up until Ubuntu 18.04 I was on board with said Ubuntu but now I’m fed up with it. Every release since 18.04 has been trash riddled with problems, breakages and just idiotic decisions. I don’t know what Canonical are smoking these days but I do not like it.

I was really thinking of going back to ye olden days (mine anyhow) and moving back to NetBSD. Once I finish fixing the hellscape of chit the Ubuntu updates destroyed yesterday I may haul out a spare box and do some testing but I was curious if anyone had any another suggestions.

I’m sure this will prompt questions about use but the reality is LAMP/File-Server kinda sums up the bulk. Just a lot of personal home services / systems.

I will say as a potential caveat and or unicorn it would be nice to find something more rolling releasish…not bleeding edge, just rolling release of stable bits. This is probably the real bulk of why I’m asking because I don’t know of anything that sits between Arch bleeding edge vs Debian - Slackware “we’ll update when your grandkids finish highschool.”

Recently I asked if anyone knew of a board maker making no-frills / no-bs mother boards and the topic was bombarded with Ford Vs Chevy style BS and not a single suggestion so if you could just drop a link to the OS/Distro to check out that’d be great MMMMM K.

Nothing is wrong with the BSDs.

My recommendation for stability is always going to be Debian if you want to stay on GNU/Linux as a server OS. You can even live on the wild side and run the testing branch instead of the stable branch if you need newer software.


It doesn’t look like your problem is the OS but instead you need some way to protect from a software upgrade gone wrong. You need something that leverages ZFS or BTRFS to create snapshots of your system so you can choose to boot a previous version from before a bad update.

I’d suggest going for FreeBSD with ZFS root and beadm. Maybe Linux with something similar to beadm. I know of OpenSuSE with transactional mode but not sure if there are other options around.

Nothing new needed. I actually tried the dev branch (because the LTS release schedule has a nice catch 22 for my set up and caused a hell of a lot of trouble with the non-lts releases. Once upon a time .04 was LTS .10 wasn’t…not it’s all “we’ll see how we feel.” Where the gaps are between LTS really screwed me this last time thanks to the fact you get forced out of certain things with upgrades. Long story, big topic, pretty sick of it.

I know there’s nothing wrong with BSD which is why I was thinking about moving back. However I was hoping maybe someone might know of some “best of both worlds” distro. NetBSD has it’s annoyances too but Ubuntu has really REALLY dropped the ball these days, even on the desktop side it’s just horrid for so many reasons.

@ulzeraj it’s not just the updates, it’s the OS. As I vaugely laid out in the last post there are issues where in packages are depreciated but still needed. When Ubuntu forces you to upgrade if you can’t build or install those older packages this creates some big issues. Not to mention the upgrade itself means you need a fail over, bring down the machine while it “upgrades” yada yada, it’s a pain in my arse. Toss in every update/upgrade on Ubuntu the last few years has failed and caused me to have to start from scratch is also a massive wtf/pita. Ubuntu live iso can’t even shutdown/reboot properly now for a few releases. There is always something, but with Ubuntu it’s become a lot of something.

Comically this has already gone off the rails with explanations that aren’t the purpose of the post…yay.

I am not a fan of Ubuntu beyond new user introduction to the unix-like OS world.
Debian has an unofficial (used to be official) GNU/kfreeBSD release that used a Debian ported FreeBSD kernel. I think they are up to Jessie (Debian 8) unofficially but should have repos to current test. That would be your best of both worlds if you want to stick with the GNU userland.

Otherwise, DragonFly BSD would be my non-Linux choice for best of both worlds as it pulls from BSD and Linux what it needs in order to be the most pragmatic. Plus you get the advantages of using the BSD network stack which is leaps and bounds more performant than the default Linux network stack.

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When I say best of both worlds I mean more like LTS/Bleeding Edge rather than Linux + BSD. A distro that rolls things out like a rolling release but only rolls said rolly things when noted as stable like LTS Debian. Or LTS without the stupid versioning that means you basically have to gut the machine every so many years.

Interesting about Dragonfly. Last I heard about it it was more Desktop focused on bridging the gap to all the “fancy” Linux features.

On Linux you can just use docker and run whatever software regardless of what the OS offers. I assume of course we’re talking about a server.

While I can appreciate the concept of “containerizing” that’s kinda on my no no list. It also doesn’t help unless again you have other machines you can fire said instances up on while you gut the main one because that’s how Ubuntu rolls for “upgrades.”

I always forget about SuSe because I don’t use it outside of work, but yeah, if you want native snapshotting support, SuSe is your best bet as you can roll back individual package upgrades. SuSe is routinely slept on.

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Suse is also maybe possibly going to be some MSFT stuff :wink: I haven’t touched Suse is ages, I don’t even remember how it handles packages. I’ve been enjoying how you can downgrade and hold packages on arch since I moved to it. Not that I have some old software fetish but there are things about my hardware that the whole ecosystem is basically trying to destroy so I need to hold things for as long as possible…coughscumbaggtk*cough.

There is a mode called transactional update where the OS itself is full read only and every update happens inside a transactional shell, which is basically a chroot into a snapshot-clone btrfs volume which will be promoted as main during next boot.

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Debian Testing. Even the unstable branch, which I run as my daily is Damn, stable. Testing’s software is older than unstable but not by too much, and a apt update && apt upgrade will have a hard time breaking your system on Debian than it will on Ubuntu.

Case in point, I just did that on my RPi that is acting as my 4 disk NAS, and the Ubuntu update broke mdadm. So my NAS is offline and I am just going to wipe it and put RaspberryPi OS on the Pi now that it has 64-bit support. (I would run Debian, but my NAS hat uses a quirk of RPiOS and Ubuntu implements that on the Pi image)

That was ages ago when SuSE belonged to Novell and they drank the Mono/C# coolaid. It was also for the Enterprise offering. If you are worried about Microsoft they have a director seat on the Linux Foundation.

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Yeah, Suse has come a long way and they basically eat RedHat’s lunch in the European market. It has its quirks but it is damn good at what it does. It is just to fat for me to use at home, but good for stability and enterprise stuff. Zypper runs circles around dnf and rpm, especially with system configuration and integration.

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I was thinking about a stock Debian as well but I dislike the need for upgrade, though it will be a lot longer than an Ubun LTS. If I haul out ye olde Xeon workstation for some testing I may try stock Debian then as well. Ubuntu really does love to self destruct these days, from normal updates to system upgrades there is always something that results in days of fixing…meanwhile my “unstable” arch machines are getting flakey jank updates non-stop and don’t see these issues lol.

I also run ArchLinux as my gaming OS. I can go months without updating that guy and then get to current with minimal to no issues. Debian still has my heart though and is probably the most sane choice when stability is the #1 requirement.

I run Garuda on my workstation. I agree about stability and that is what I’m after which is also why I’m hunting. Yesterday I ran some updates and it basically destroyed the whole GD lamp stack…still trying to piece things back together and see what the hell it deleted to update and didn’t replace or what have you…but this has become a common occurrence since 18.04.

This is why I was thinking unless I can find something better NetBSD would be the landing pad. Back when my servers ran NetBSD uptime was in the years. Something I’ve not had in a long long time.

With Ubuntu Server being the mess it is now I know I most defiantly do not want to stay with it. Yesterdays “explosion” happened seemingly from its new obnoxious “restart services using outdated binaries” “dealie.” Most times you get asked what/when to restart, but not always…yesterday was a not always. It just out of nowhere restarted some key things MID update kicking me out of the term and leaving the update stranded / orphaned with no way to reattach. I watched the logs to see progress but eventually I could tell it was waiting on something, diff between configs or other service restart prompt…WHO KNOWS! Made me think I need to write a wrapper for updates so they are always started in screen so I can reattach after the fact but FFS! Just like how I first saw Ubuntu 20.04 would lock up randomly…eventually I figured it out…systemd was UNMOUNTING / !!!

Fedora or Manjaro? Those are the two I’ve been thinking about recently, because yeah I think I’m done with Ubuntu also.