Some of us love using the latest and greatest Linux distributions. For example, I’m writing this on a Linux Mint 20.2 desktop. But, others, especially on the servers and clouds prefer to stick with what they know. No one wants to be the first user to discover a show-stopper bug in a new Linux release when it’s running your mission-critical application. So, many people stick with old and tried operating systems. Canonical, Ubuntu Linux‘s parent company, knows this, so they’re extending the lifecycles of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS “Trusty Tahr” and 16.04 LTS “Xenial Xerus.”
This gives each of them an operational life of ten years. So, Ubuntu 14.04 will now be supported until April 2024 and 16.04 will receive support all the way until April 2026. With this change, all long-term support (LTS) versions of Ubuntu now have ten-year support lifespans.
According to Canonical, the company is doing this because “This lifecycle extension enables organizations to balance their infrastructure upgrade costs, by giving them additional time to implement their upgrade plan. The prolonged Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) phase of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and 16.04 LTS enables a secure and low-maintenance infrastructure with security updates and kernel live patches.
Nikos Mavrogiannopoulos, a Canonical Product Manager and security expert, added, “With the prolonged lifecycle of Ubuntu 14.04 and 16.04 LTS, we’re entering a new page in our commitment to enabling enterprise environments. Each industry sector has its own deployment lifecycle and adopts technology at a different pace. We are bringing an operating system lifecycle that lets organizations manage their infrastructure on their terms.”
Under ESM, Canonical delivers continued security fixes for high and critical common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) for the packages in the Ubuntu ‘main’ and ‘restricted’ archives for x86-64, arm64, and s390x architectures. This enables organizations running workloads on these Ubuntu LTS releases to maintain compliance standards by providing a secure environment.
If you use Ubuntu for business, this extended support doesn’t come for free. You’ll need to pay for standalone servers and virtual machines (VM) through Ubuntu Advantage for Infrastructure. However, you can still use UA-I Essential for free on up to three machines, or 50 systems if you are an official Ubuntu Community member. Community membership is available for free.
On the public cloud, you can use Ubuntu Pro for Amazon Web Services, Azure, and Google Cloud. Ubuntu Pro is a premium version of the operating system designed for enterprise and production use. It provides developers/administrators with a secured DevOps environment. While it’s built on standard Ubuntu components, it comes with additional services. These include:
- Patching of high and critical CVEs for Ubuntu’s universe repository, which covers over 30,000 packages, including Node.js, MongoDB, Redis, and Apache Kafka, to name a few.
- A 10-year maintenance commitment
- Live kernel patching, which offers VM instances increased security and higher uptimes.
- Officially certified components to enable operating environments under compliance regimes such as FedRAMP, HIPAA, PCI, GDPR, and ISO.
- Features to be available in H2 2021: Certified FIPS 140-2 components; security dashboard for Security Command Center, Managed Apps, and more.
- All the standard Ubuntu optimizations and security updates.
So, if you like the Ubuntu you’re using today, there’s no reason you need to change. Eventually, of course, you’ll need to upgrade your operating system. Nothing lasts forever. But at least you can stick with what you already know for a few more years.
Amazon Web Services is a sponsor of The New Stack.