Brief: Linux Kernel Long Term Support (LTS) releases will now be supported for six years instead of two. This will enable Android devices to survive four OS upgrades.
Linux kernel has two kinds of releases: Long Term Support (LTS) releases and the regular releases.
A regular Linux kernel release arrives at an interval of 8-10 weeks. This means that devices running regular Linux kernel must be updated every 10 weeks.
This is where LTS Kernel release comes to save the trouble of upgrading devices every 10 weeks. An LTS release comes with 2 years of support and provides security and bug fixes.
Linux LTS Kernel will live for 6 years
But even two years of support for the LTS version is not enough for many and Google is one of them. In order to support Android devices for a longer period (current is 3 years), the two-year lifecycle of Linux LTS kernel is being upgraded to six years.
This announcement was made by Google’s Iliyan Malchev during Linaro Connect 2017 presentation. Malchev announced the extended lifecycle of LTS kernel when he was discussing the changes being brought to Android update cycle with Project Treble:
Greg Kroah-Hartman has given me permission to announce this here: He will extend LTS to six years, starting with kernel 4.4.
Greg Kroah-Harman is the current Linux kernel maintainer for the LTS releases. He approved of the news in a tweet saying, “this is going to be fun”:
This is going to be fun! https://t.co/JGCJQdWa58
— Greg K-H (@gregkh) September 29, 2017
It’s not just for Android
While Google’s Android devices seem to be the biggest beneficiary of this announcement, Malchev specified that it’s not something exclusive to Google or Android. It will be available for everyone.
LTS is LTS. Greg Kroah-Hartman, the LTS maintainer, is committing to do [a six-year LTS]. Not because of Google or Android or Treble, but because everything is on LTS; it’s not on upstream.
If interested, you can watch Malchev’s keynote speech below:
Starting from Linux kernel 4.4
The new 6-year Linux kernel LTS lifecycle will be applicable from Linux kernel 4.4 onwards. As Linux Kernel 4.4 was released in January 2016, we can expect it to be supported till 2022.
Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, hasn’t been a great fan of LTS releases lately as he thinks, “… it’s proving a tricky one, as the emergence of a LTS release sees developers push to make sure the stuff that matters to them makes it in.”
What do you think?
While we wonder what Linus thinks of the Linux Kernel LTS lifecycle increase, why not share your view on it. In my opinion, this is a welcome move as it means a longer support for not only Android devices but other connected and smart devices. What do you think?