I have heard some things said about release 5.x but there have been several ED versions since then. I am installing a few new controllers and want to know what the best version I should use and why...what are your thoughts and experiences?
I have tried nearly all the 4.2/5.0/5.1 & 5.2 releases and they all have issues, I suggest you do 2 things:-
Read the version release documentation to see if the current bugs will affect your environment.
Use versions that have a "AssureWave" accreditation, and they have passed with no issues.
I use version 220.127.116.11 which is 100% tested with no bugs.
Thanks for the info, much appreciated. Are we likely to see a newer AssureWave accredited release anytime soon?
I have no idea - Cisco decide when they test and grant the accreditation, you just have to check the release trains.
If you have a valid CCO account, navigate to the download section "Wireless Controllers".
There you'll see that the SW 18.104.22.168(MD) is marked with a ribbon. That means, that this SW is tested succefully by Cisco (AssureWave/Safe Harbor). See http://www.cisco.com/web/Downloads/SDS/certdesignation.html
Generally I would make a test-procedure and test all needed features myself
As specific in my original post - only choose the ones that have passed 100%
4.2.176 has a credit of "(Pass with Exception)" = with bugs, and un-tested environments/features.
+3 to Andrew Prince for advice on reading the release notes. Even his preferred version has a list of "Open Caveats" (which to me are bugs). Only you can determine the impact of an open caveat.
You should also check the security notices. Various flavors of 4.2 have some reported/documented vulnerabilities that are fixed by going with 22.214.171.124.
Don't forget about the bootloader/ER code as well. I've been checking around, and most people are recommending to go with the latest bootloader code (126.96.36.199) because it is independent of the regular code base (5.2 bootloader is fine with 4.2 code).
If you are going to use 1140 APs, then you must run 5.2.
I believe that 5.x merged the code base back together so that there is not a different version you need to run for mesh (I don't see any 5.x versions in the mesh downloads).
If FIPS is your bag, you're stuck at 4.1 and should run the latest rev (188.8.131.52).
We have been advised by our Cisco wireless rep to stay with 184.108.40.206 (it has the AssureWave status) at one of our larger sites (works great for us). We are about to install 220.127.116.11 at one of our smaller sites because we are deploying 1140's there and our rep indicates we should not have any problems (only 20 APs and a simple design/security model).
If you already have controllers up and running, and these new ones will be in the same mobility group, then I would recommend that they all be on the same release.
Hope this helps.
The current advice from TAC is to run 4.2.176 unless you specifically need features from a later release.
All 5.x versions are ED. The 6.0 line, slated for release this summer, will have an MD release at some point- not sure whether the initial release will be MD or not, but that's where the next MD will be coming from.