The Open Source Summit Europe based in Bilbao started yesterday and we already have some notable news to tell, which is the change in support for LTS versions (Long Term Support or long-term support) of the Linux kernel.
In summary, Support time for LTS versions of Linux is reduced from 6 to 2 years. Or what is the same, the support of these versions goes back to what it was, just when the end of the cycle of the first version that enjoyed the maintenance extension that is now going to disappear is approaching.
For more information, it was in September 2017 when the extension of the Linux LTS support time was announced and a little later, in November 2017, when Linux 4.14 LTS was released, the first version with 6 years of support ahead that are close to expiring. Until then, support for each LTS version of Linux was two years.
Since then, one LTS version has been released each year, the last being Linux 6.1. In total there are currently six LTS versions of Linux with maintenance, including Linux 4.14, whose support will end in January 2024. In between are Linux 4.19, 5.4, 5.10 and 5.15versions that will sound familiar to many because they are the ones that have used distributions such as Ubuntu LTS (or derivatives such as Linux Mint, Zorin OS, elementary OS…), Debian or openSUSE Leap, precisely to take advantage of their condition.
But it will not continue to be that way. What’s more, it is not even clear that the most recent versions meet the scheduled six years, as can be seen in the informative table contained in The Linux Kernel Archives, where the end of support for the latest Linux 6.1 points to December 2026 (although the usual thing is that they are milestones that are extended).
Be that as it may, what is certain is that the next versions of Linux LTS that appear will have support for two years. And the reasons for this change are what you would expect, but not only. In fact, it is not a movement that emerged out of nowhere and a couple of years ago what was just announced was noticed: either there was business involvement, or it was going to cost keep the rythm.
Indeed, maintaining a version of the kernel for six years is not an easy task and the lack of resources is compounded by the increase in the complexity of the code, which is why greater collaboration and funding is necessary to guarantee that support is continued. performing under the same conditions of quality and compliance.
But there is another reason for having made this decision and it is, as explained by the developer Jonathan Corbett and reported in ZDNet, that no one uses versions that old. “It really doesn’t make sense to keep them for that long because people aren’t using them.” At least they don’t time out support.