Ubuntu 6.10 Comes to the End of the Line
Published: April 8, 2008
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
Nothing lasts forever, and this is particularly true of patches and tech support for open source programs like Linux distributions. Many of the Linux distros out there have a regular pattern whereby older releases are retired as they get too far behind the current release, which stands to reason since those older releases do not have the kernel features to support new programs and functions that Linux customers demand. Basically, retiring releases is good for you, even if it is disruptive to your day.
And so it is with the Ubuntu 6.10 Linux distribution from Canonical, which will reach its end of life for support on April 25. The Ubuntu community and Canonical launched Ubuntu 6.10 a year and a half ago, on October 26, 2006, and under the agreement that Canonical made with Ubuntu users, it promises to offer 18 months of support for each Ubuntu desktop and server release unless it is a so-called Long Term Support release, which has three years of support for desktop releases and five years of support for server releases. The LTS variants of Ubuntu are Canonical's bowing to the needs of commercial enterprises, who do not like to change their operating systems as frequently as Linux enthusiasts and who want the Linux they choose to have security fixes, patches, and tech support for the time that the LTS contract offers. (Some companies like to skip every other software release, in fact.)
Anyway, the point is, Ubuntu 6.10 will get its last set of patches before the end of the month, and after that, Ubuntu Security Notices will not include updates for Ubuntu 6.10 for either desktops or servers. Canonical says that customers with Ubuntu 6.10 are encouraged to upgrade to Ubuntu 7.10, which as the name suggests, came to market in October 2007, a year after Ubuntu 6.10. If you want to make that jump, you should check out the upgrade notes from the Ubuntu community, and they should also realize that customers have to move to Ubuntu 7.04, which was launched in April 2007, and then to the Ubuntu 7.10 release to get to their final destination. Both Ubuntu 7.04 and Ubuntu 7.10 are supported by Canonical with security updates and high-impact bug fixes, and unless customers are compelled by features, it seems likely that a lot of shops will simply stop at Ubuntu 7.04 and only do one upgrade rather than two.
Of course, with the "Hardy Heron" Ubuntu 8.04 LTS variant coming out on April 24, the day before the last day of support for Ubuntu 6.10, it is also possible that companies will invest the time and suffer through the hassle and move all the way up to Ubuntu 8.04 LTS. Individual end users who always want to be on the bleeding edge are willing to suffer a little (not a lot), but businesses don't want to cope with any hassles with an operating system because that can cause loss of business. Ubuntu 8.04 LTS went into beta freeze on March 20, and its Release Candidate is expected to come out on April 17.
It seems unlikely that people using Ubuntu 6.10 will wait until Ubuntu 8.10, due this October and code-named "Interpid Ibex," comes out to upgrade their machines. That is just too long to run around without security patches. Canonical and the Ubuntu community are working on Ubuntu 8.10's feature set now, and plan to finalize the feature set for the future Linux variant at the Ubuntu Developer Conference in Prague, Czech Republic, between May 19 and 23. If you want to see some features in Ubuntu 8.10 and you can't get to Prague, you can post your ideas and requests at the Wiki for Ubuntu at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UDS-Intrepid.
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