Long-term support (LTS) for Linux kernels is being reduced from six to two years



good decision.

Having one or two LTS kernels is good, having six of them is simply too much.

Enterprise distributions that need longer support frames already maintain their own kernel trees anyway. Everyone else should be able to upgrade.


2 seems more than sufficient to me as well. It feels like a massive waste of man power to keep up with so many kernels. I feel like that time could be better spent elsewhere


I would think if you have something that needs a more than 2 year old kernel probably isn’t even online or needs updating. Like a machine that runs like a large CNC machine or lathe or something. If everything works, just leave it alone forever

Many Android phones use quite an old linux kernel.
But that may change if/when Google switches Linux to their own operating system in Android.

And there are lots of devices using old linux kernels, let’s see what happens to them. :wink:

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I believe that this all is a good business opportunity for commercial linux distros, like Red Hat for example. If they sell long term support they have a much stronger position if the stock kernel is only supported for 2 years. Or, in other words, the burden will be with the distros. I am wondering how non-commercial distros with long term support, like debian, will handle this.

Then offer 3? Lts and one like stupid lts. Call it the slts. I feel like I can make a marketing campaign for slts.

My Android is using 5.4.210.

It is common practice or best practice for companies to keep a kernel version like 6.1 stable during the leasing period of server hardware. This is typically 3-5 years. That means that there is demand on the market for a 3-5 year support cycle. If this demand is not covered by the kernel dev team the distro maintainers have to do all the maintenance work.

actually, the huge amount of LTS kernels is kind of Google’s “fault”. When they started work for their Pixel lineup with the Pixel 1 - somewhere when Nexus 5X was the current phone, they started using LTS kernels and requested if upstream could extend the maintenance frame to match their support frame of the Pixel phone. Which the kernel dev’s agreed to because they were happy that the phones apparently seemed to get regular kernel updates, which before the Pixel lineup did not happen.

However, Google made several changes since then, splitting the base hardware level from actual android and also splitting up the hardware level to make it easier for the manufacturers to provide updates (many hardware level patches are now actually part of Android in form of device framework, play services and so on - just check the list of system apps that you can’t actually run but are constantly updated through the play store)
That means that the actual kernel version in Android is playing less and less of a role. And especially manufacturers, but also Google still do Frankenstein kernels that have patches from later kernels although the version number stays low. This means that maintaining their own kernel tree is already being done, it might need some extended work in the future but with the manpower in those companies, that seems to be no issue.

before the ramping up of upstream support, that was actually already in place. one kernel with Extended LTS of 4 years and regular LTS with 2 years.

those usually run Enterprise Linux versions, and they maintain their own kernel trees anyway - and they don’t use LTS kernels:
RHEL 7: 3.10
RHEL 8: 4.18
RHEL 9: 5.14
SLE15: 4.12
SLE15 SP2 and 3: 5.3
SLE15 SP4: 5.14
SLE12: 3.12
SLE12 SP2: 4.4 (hey, finally a regular LTS kernel …)

Ubuntu LTS is somewhat different, they actually do use the regular LTS kernels now, but that is only because the official devs ramped up the LTS kernel offers in the last years.
Ubuntu 14 LTS used kernels 3.13, 3.16 and 3.19 and 4.4 during its lifetime - which marks their switch to LTS kernels. So they only have to go back to their practices that were in place before Ubuntu LTS 16 and maintain their own kernel trees.
With 22.04 LTS they actually started to use non-LTS kernels again, the HWE kernel currently is 6.2 while the regular kernel is 5.15, so 6.1 would have been a valid candidate - in 16, 18 and 20 LTS the HWE kernels were also LTS kernels.

It kind of looks like they do their own kernel trees anyway, because they still use the kernel version numbers from the time when they did their own kernels: 5.4.0-14-generic, 5.15.0-40-generic and so on

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