Unfortunately, 3 years after my intial post, things haven’t changed much. Yes, the Dedicated Server OS has been updated since then, no longer an out of date Debian version, instead we’ve moved on to continually outdated Ubuntu versions.
Interestingly, in all the pages and hype about dedicated servers, they never tell you anything beyond that all DS’s use Ubuntu. They don’t point out that you don’t get much of a choice of which version, nor that the 2 most recent LTS releases are not available.
Currently, your choices are 12.04, which was released in 2012, thus hitting End of Life in April 2017.
Or, you can request to be upgraded to 14.04, released in 2014, and will hit EOL in April 2019.
Unfortunately 14.04 is the bare minimum requirement for quite a few current technologies. Docker, MongoDB, etc. However, the kernel you get with the DH install of 14.04 (3.2.61-grsec-modsign) does not even meet Docker’s minimum requirement of 3.10, much less allow the extras packages needed for aufs support, etc.
TLDR; Dreamhost dedicated servers only offer outdated versions of Ubuntu that do not support current technologies in application development / hosting, thus not really offering the ‘total freedom’ that they advertise and charge for.