Ubuntu to Reduce Non-LTS Support

Mar 29, 2013

Technical board votes for shorter support cycles on standard releases.

The Ubuntu Technical board has voted to change the support period for non-LTS releases from 18 months to 9. Ubuntu developed the concept of LTS “Long Term Services” releases to extend support for enterprise customers who were more interested in stability and continuity than in chasing the latest new release. An LTS version appears appear every two years and are supported for 5 years. The current LTS version is Ubuntu 12.04. The change affects all releases that aren’t LTS releases, which the Ubuntu community now refers to as “standard” releases. Since standard releases appear every 6 months, the 9 month support window provides continuous support until the next standard version appears and gives the user three months to upgrade.

The Ubuntu community has gone through an active discussion for the last few months about possible changes to the release schedule. Ubuntu VP Rick Spencer suggested a rolling release schedule, which would basically eliminate that need for standard release entirely, but founder Mark Shuttleworth was ultimately unwilling to take this extreme step. The compromise developed by the Ubuntu Technical board affirms the importance of standard releases but minimizes redundant maintenance efforts and provides a greater share of resources for maintaining the LTS versions.

The board also offer to devise a way for users or developers to “track the tip of development” without waiting for a full release. This concept is similar to what Spencer originally proposed as a “rolling release.” According to the Ubuntu website, “The general idea is that a user could opt for continuous upgrades on what is essentially the development release.”

They agreed to implement this change effective with version 13.04 and later. The LTS releases will continue to be supported for the full 5 years. Visit here to read the IRC log of the meeting online.

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