At the OpenStack Summit held in Berlin, Germany last week, Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth announced changes to the company’s strategy for their Linux-based operating system, Ubuntu LTS, that would make it more attractive to adopt by businesses and end-users in search for a stable OS (certainly more stable than what Microsoft’s been putting out lately). Shuttleworth announced that Ubuntu LTS releases would now be supported with security updates for up to ten years, matching Microsoft’s Windows 10 Long-Term Servicing Channel offering. This is big news for the Linux community.
Shuttleworth’s announcement comes just a few weeks after it was announced that IBM had made an offer to purchase Red Hat, makers of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and sponsors of the Fedora and CentOS projects, all based on the Linux kernel. Before IBM’s buyout, RHEL was the only other Linux distribution that offered support terms longer than five years, and that enabled companies to standardise on a particular version of RHEL that suited their needs.
“I’m delighted to announce that Ubuntu 18.04 will be supported for a full 10 years, in part because of the very long time horizons in some of industries like financial services and telecommunications but also from IOT where manufacturing lines for example are being deployed that will be in production for at least a decade,” Shuttleworth said.
This puts Ubuntu LTS up on an even footing with RHEL in cloud workloads and in factory environments where stability is crucial. Previously LTS releases were supported for five years after launch, but most companies prefer to work on longer time scales to make their investment into new infrastructure worthwhile, which makes a ten year support cycle ideal.
Security updates and patches for LTS releases are commonly backported from the patches released for regular versions of Ubuntu, and include both security fixes and optional kernel upgrades for added stability and access to new kernel features. This makes them good choices for anyone who wants a stable Linux experience on their machine, where they don’t need bleeding-edge support.
Shuttleworth did not announce any changes to the released cadence of LTS releases, which are typically launched every two years in April.