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Linux Kernel Maintainer Explains Reducing LTS Support To Two Years – This Is The Standard Procedure For Getting Money

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On the Linux kernel developer mailing list, one of the developers noticed that the support period for the latest long-term version 5.10 reduced from six to two years, and expressed bewilderment about this.

Linux kernel maintainer Greg Croah-Hartman answered him that support “is not automatic, but requires commercial assistance.”

Kernel 5.10 was released in December 2020 and is designated as a long-term maintenance (LTS) release. This usually means six years of support with important patches and security fixes released. But in official release table you can see that for the version, the support period ends in December 2022, exactly two years after release.

Developer Scott Branden of Broadcom asked what’s the point of two years of support for the 5.10 kernel if the previous version 5.4 was released in April 2020 and will be officially supported for six years. It is not clear why users would need to upgrade from 5.4 to 5.10.

Croah-Hartman explained to a colleague that usually stable kernels are discarded after the next release, so the lifespan in reality is about four months, and “two years is much more than four months,” the maintainer said. Therefore, a core with two years of support has every right to be called “long-term”.

Greg Kroah-Hartman lamented that every year we have to “go through the same thing”: support will be increased after companies help financially: “I want to see how companies help me test and maintain this version of the kernel to make it support for 6 years is really possible, ”he said.

Kroah-Hartman reduces support for a new kernel version to two years each year and then increases it: “When I get this kind of promise and support from companies, I’m happy to increase the kernel support duration from 2 to 6 years and mark it on the website … Traditionally this happens in February-March, as soon as I hear from a sufficient number of companies, ”he explained the annual ritual.

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