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I have installed Ubuntu Server 10.10 and now I want to install some software like PostgreSQL, Nginx and PHP. But what is the preferred way to get the latest stable version of the software?

E.g I tried with sudo apt-get install postgresql but that installed version 8.4 of PostgreSQL but 9.0.1 is the latest version.

I have had this issue before with NginX. The solution was then to download the sourcefiles and compile the latest version which took some time. Later a friend told me that wasn't a preferred way to install software.

Any recommendations?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Either you are patient and stick with what you have, or you find an official backport, or you find some unofficial backports, or you build your own package. The details depend on the particular package.

For example, in the case of PostgreSQL, you can either wait a few more weeks until the package officially enters some Ubuntu version, at which point also official backports will appear, or in the meantime you can get unofficial packages (albeit from the same packager) at https://launchpad.net/~pitti/+archive/postgresql.

Building your own packages from scratch or installing from source is probably not recommendable for the type of rather complex software that you mention, unless you are mainly interested in learning the internals rather than using them in production.

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The recommended way is to use the software versions your distribution provides, i.e. sudo apt-get install postgresql is correct. This might not always be the most recent version released upstream, but in most cases one doesn't really need the latest one.

If you (think you) need the very latest version of everything, you might want to use a distribution which is very fast with releasing new versions for its packages. E.g. while Ubuntu for many packages only releases new version upgrades with its half-yearly major update, Fedora more often adds new versions as updates to the current distribution incarnation. Other distributions like Gentoo give releases even faster. (However, all mentioned distribution gives security updates in a timely fashion of course.)

If you in general are happy by getting the latest versions, e.g. twice a year and only have one or two packages for which you need the latest and greatest, you can stay with Ubuntu or a similar distribution and either build the packages for which you need the latest version from source and install e.g. to /opt or /usr/local or you can try to get pre-build packages from the development tree of your distribution.

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If this is something that's very important to you, I'd consider switching to a more "bleeding edge" distribution; distros like Ubuntu follow a fixed release schedule, and also like to wait a bit before software has been through testing before shifting into their stable package repositories. (Of course it's much more up to date that some others, like Debian stable.)

Personally I use Arch Linux. Packages get updated to the newest release very quickly in most cases, and it's a "rolling release" distro so you can always be up to date. The counterbalance is that sometimes things break with updates and you have to keep on top of things to make the necessary adjustments yourself rather than waiting for a package management team to do it for you.

A good place to learn about which distributions are more or less up to date is OpenSourceWatershed.

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