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.
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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.