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07 August 2006, 12:51

Ubuntu is the quickest to provide security updates

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In a comparison that makes no claims to scientifically representative, the security website SearchSecurity has examined which Linux distribution has been the quickest to release updates to published vulnerabilities. The author of the distribution comparison based his study on an examination of security service provider Secunia's database.

To form the comparison, he draw upon 30 different critical security holes from the past six months and assigned 100 points for distributions that delivered patches on the same day and 0 points for those Linux variations that were the last to provide updates.

Rankings of distributions with the quickest security updates according to SearchSecurity
 DistributionPoint total
1. Ubuntu76
2. Fedora Core70
3. Red Hat Enterprise Linux63
4. Debian GNU/Linux61
5. Mandriva Linux54
6. Gentoo Linux39
7. Trustix Secure Linux32
8. SUSE Linux Enterprise32
9. Slackware Linux30

SearchSecurity found Ubuntu to be the quickest at providing security updates. There are many reasons for the differing time frames in the release of patches. Several distributions, including Debian and Gentoo, are serviced exclusively by private persons in their free time. Other Linux distributions are supported by commercial companies with specific employees tasked with preparing patches. Ubuntu, Red Hat and Suse all have well financed companies behind them.

Yet distributions from the large companies also sometimes also needed longer before delivering updates. These Linux versions, frequently used in business enterprises, face different challenges from those providing Linux for home PCs. Patches must not compromise the system stability, meaning that they must be extensively tested and inspected before release – a problem that Microsoft knows all too well.

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