May 30, 2009

Ubuntu - Long Term Support - How long is it really?


Ubuntu - LTS

Ubuntu GNU/Linux Long Term Support which are the Ubuntu GNU/Linux versions that are supported for three years for desktop versions and five years for server versions.

The first LTS Ubuntu version that was issued was Ubuntu 6.06 LTS Dapper Drake, which was released in June 2006.  The second was Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Hardy Heron, which was released in April 2004 (per the numbering scheme -- first digit being the issuance year and second being the month number.)  The next scheduled LTS Ubuntu version is Ubuntu 10.04 (which is currently tentatively scheduled.)

As may be already evident, there is no true way to get the full three years (much less five) of support (which is actually just operating system and software security and stability updates -- basically bug fixes.)  You see if these versions are supported for three years but are issued every two years, how is it possible to get continuously three full years or supported use without the need to do a full reinstall or upgrade of your operating system.

You see, unlike most Ubuntu users (most of which are power/geeks users of which I somewhat regard myself), I do not get my "kicks" from reinstalling my operating system and/or performing a version upgrade every six to eighteen months.  (On a somewhat unrelated note, I am rarely impressed by Linux distro version reviews through a "virtual machine" as it seems to me that the only way one can get a true indication of an operating system's performance is by performing a true hard drive install and putting this new install through approximate real world use for a few days -- with the exception of distros which are never really intended to be installed on a hard drive such as Puppy Linux.)  So, I do appreciate the LTS Long Term Support Ubuntu GNU/Linux versions which, at least, minimize my need to perform a major OS upgrade and/or reinstall.

In this regard, I believe I am most like the truly "average" user who want his/her PC to "just work" and does not want to be hassled by operating system upgrades / reinstalls.  I recently read an interesting statistic that approximately 77% of Ubuntu users are currently already using Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope (it is May 28, 2009, as I write this.)  This tells me that 77% of Ubuntu users are truly geek power GNU/Linux users and are not the "average" user Ubuntu is now targeting, for, like me, the "average" user clearly does not want to be bothered with an operating sysem upgrade / reinstall every six months.  (As a side note, I applaud Dell for sticking with Ubuntu 8.04 LTS for their pre-install Ubuntu GNU/Linux sales.)

I do not believe in performing an operating system upgrade / reinstall unless the new version presents a "compelling" reason to upgrade.  As such, I am still running Ubuntu 8.04.2 LTS on our home PCs.  Clearly Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex did NOT present a "compelling" reason to upgrade.  Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jacklope did approach the compelling threshold, but I am still holding out for the next LTS release (frankly, probably the point 2 release in July 2010 for bug fixes.)  (In the interest of full disclosure, I did install 9.04 on my folks PC, but they needed a new hard drive installed anyway so it made sense to install it -- since a reinstall was required anyway.) 

Based upon my peripheral observations, it seems that with Ubuntu's cut throat six month release schedule, new features are introduced in each new release that are far from perfected until at least the next subsequent release.  In support of the preceding statement, consider pulse-audio, ext4, (without an actual file.)

I would much prefer that Ubuntu change to a one-year release cycle for routine releases and three years for LTS releases (not every two years for three year supported LTS releases as it is now so one could actually get a full three years support.)  With a one-year release cycle, ample time would be afforded so new features could actually work properly and bugs could actually be fixed and more and more would "just work" as it should.

Just my two cents for now.  Thanks for reading.

Mark, did you get this?  (Shuttleworth)



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