Ubuntu slashes support, Debian 7.0 draws near

Users of Canonical's Long Term Support releases will remain unaffected by the change in support from 18 months to just nine

It wasn't all that long ago that Canonical extended the support period for Long Term Support (LTS) releases of its Ubuntu Linux from three years to five, but last week it made a move in the opposite direction for its non-LTS software.

Specifically, beginning with Ubuntu 13.04 "Raring Ringtail," which is due in April, Canonical will reduce the support period for interim versions of its popular Linux distribution  from 18 months to just nine.

[ Prove your expertise with the free OS in InfoWorld's Linux admin IQ test round 1 and round 2. | Track the latest trends in open source with InfoWorld's Open Sources blog and Technology: Open Source newsletter. ]

New Ubuntu releases come out every six months, with LTS versions every two years.

Prepare for a wider role

Spurring consideration of the question was a proposal from Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth earlier this month, suggesting several changes to Ubuntu release management as a way to "go even faster as the leading free software platform, meet the needs of both our external users and internal communities (Unity, Canonical, Kubuntu, Xubuntu and many many others) and prepare for a wider role in personal computing."

Among Shuttleworth's proposals were a strengthening of LTS point releases and a reduction in the amount of release management -- including the duration of support -- for interim releases of the free and open source operating system.

"Our working assumption is that the latest interim release is used by folks who will be involved, even if tangentially, in the making of Ubuntu, and LTS releases will be used by those who purely consume it," Shuttleworth explained.

In a subsequent meeting of the Ubuntu Technical Board last Monday, members voted  on a nine-month duration for non-LTS support rather than the seven Shuttleworth had proposed.

As Shuttleworth suggested, this change will likely have a bigger effect on cutting-edge power users than on business users, who tend to stick with LTS releases anyway.

Just 57 bugs remain

Meanwhile, in other distro news, it looks like Debian 7.0 "Wheezy," which has long been eagerly awaited by fans of the venerable Linux distribution, will be ready for release soon.

"The Wheezy release is getting ever closer," wrote developer Julien Cristau in an update last Wednesday, at which time the bug count was down to 100.

As of today, just 57 bugs remain, so it seems safe to say a release will happen sometime in the near future. The current stable version, Debian 6.0 "Squeeze," was released back in February 2011.

This story, "Ubuntu slashes support, Debian 7.0 draws near" was originally published by PCWorld.