In an organization, company or association, for its computer park, it is necessary to think in the long term, with the best report/ratio performances/cost what one also calls the report/ratio quality/price in other fields. It is not by systematically installing the latest version available that we will be free of bugs or fewer updates. Typically, IT professionals choose to install the latest stable version of an operating system or software, not as soon as it is publicly released but a few weeks or months back to let other people wipe the plasters and give time to the editor to correct the first problems encountered.
Even more so in a server environment, stability and availability are two major criteria. Whether the organization has an internal IT department (a CIO or a single person) or uses an external outsourcing service provider, everyone prefers that the infrastructure runs smoothly and without service interruptions. The cornerstone of an information system, the OS must be as reliable as possible, be protected as much as possible and be supported as long as possible by its publisher or its community in order to be secure and corrected. This is the case for LTS versions of Linux distributions. LTS, for Long-Term Support, a long-term support whose support is provided for a longer period of time than the normal version. Each software, operating system or application, has a lifespan, a life cycle. This duration is set by the editor who can, for economic reasons, define a short duration in order to oblige customers to migrate to a more recent version and in the process pay for a new license or continue a service subscription.
At the house of Ubuntu, whether in Server or Desktop version, there are versions normal and LTS releases. On a server, it is highly recommended to choose an LTS edition. Why ? Precisely for its lifespan. Explanations and examples.
Note that there are no differences in functionality or stability between a standard Ubuntu and an LTS version when they are released. Of course, a Desktop edition will be richly provided: graphical environment, office suite LibreOffice, Navigator firefox… The core is the same.
Standard Ubuntu Lifecycle
For example, Ubuntu 21.04 released in April 2021 (21 or 2021, 04 for April) has only one 6 month shelf life. Then it will give way to Ubuntu 21.10, then 22.04, 22.10, etc. A regular renewal that allows users to receive the latest news, features and fixes available.
Ubuntu LTS Lifecycle
As for him, an Ubuntu 20.04 LTS will not be renewed until two years later. As Ubuntu 18.04 succeeded 16.04 and 14.04, 20.04 will give way to 22.04 LTS, 24.04 LTS, etc. A life cycle of 2 years in appearance but much longer in reality:
Example with Ubuntu 20.04 LTS:
- Release date: April 2020
- Security patches: until April 2025
- Extended Security Maintenance (ESM): until April 2030
In free version, Ubuntu can therefore be maintained with all the security patches for 5 years after its release date. The paid Extended Security Maintenance support then takes over for 5 more years. To date, to benefit from updates for 10 years on an Ubuntu LTS virtual machine, it will only cost 5 x $75 for the 5 years of additional support. An extremely low price to ensure you get security patches for a decade.
Of course, upgrading from an Ubuntu LTS version to a newer one is a free operation. After upgrade testing, it is an operation that keeps a server in operation longer than its original life cycle of 5 years in free support. It is a ” do-release-upgrade » whose tutorial is available here.