Long-term support

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Long-term support (LTS) is a product lifecycle management policy in which a stable release of computer software is maintained for a longer period of time than the standard edition. The term is typically reserved for open-source software, where it describes a software edition that is supported for months or years longer than the software's standard edition.

Short term support (STS) is a term that distinguishes the support policy for the software's standard edition. STS software has a comparatively short life cycle, and may be afforded new features that are omitted from the LTS edition to avoid potentially compromising the stability or compatibility of the LTS release.[1]

Characteristics[edit]

LTS applies the tenets of reliability engineering to the software development process and software release life cycle. Long-term support extends the period of software maintenance; it also alters the type and frequency of software updates (patches) to reduce the risk, expense, and disruption of software deployment, while promoting the dependability of the software. It does not necessarily imply technical support.

At the beginning of a long-term support period, the software developers impose a feature freeze: They make patches to correct software bugs and vulnerabilities, but do not introduce new features that may cause regression. The software maintainer either distributes patches individually, or packages them in maintenance releases, point releases, or service packs. At the conclusion of the support period, the product reaches end-of-life.

Rationale[edit]

The traditional software lifecycle in many open source projects is release early, release often, or a regular time-based release schedule. In either case, each new release includes both fixes for security vulnerabilities and new functionality.

Large organisations, or users with mission critical projects, need the security fixes but would often prefer to retain the same base version for an extended period without any new or changed functionality. Their concern is, that as software developers add new features they can accidentally introduce new bugs or break old functionality.[2] While in theory they could backport just the security fixes from each new release to their deployed version, in practice this would often be prohibitively difficult or costly.

Even without the added risks, for these types of users, new functionality is also often expensive. Updating a web application with a sensitive configuration, for example, may require the cooperation of many people: Developers for retrofitting; a database administrator for database schema changes; software testers for regression testing; a project manager for scheduling, liaising, and facilitating; a system administrator or release manager for software deployment oversight; and IT operations personnel for backups, installation, and disaster recovery.

LTS versions of a software package typically address these concerns by releasing only security-related updates for the LTS version—such that installing them should always be less risky than not installing them.

Software with separate LTS versions[edit]

This table only lists those have a specific LTS version in addition to a normal release cycle. Many projects, such as CentOS, provide a long period of support for every release.

Software Software type Date of first LTS release LTS period STS period Notes
Django Application framework 23 March 2012 (2012-03-23)
(v1.4)
3 years[3] 16 months
Firefox Web browser 31 January 2012 (2012-01-31)
(v10.0)
1 year 6 weeks Mozilla's LTS term is "Extended Support Release" (ESR) (see Firefox#Extended Support Release).
Joomla! CMS January 2008 (2008-01)
(v1.5)
2 years, 3 months[4] 7 months Since Joomla! is a web application, long-term support also implies support for legacy web browsers.
Laravel Application framework 9 June 2015 (2015-06-09)
(v5.1) [5]
3 years[6] 1 year For LTS releases, bug fixes are provided for 2 years and security fixes are provided for 3 years. For general releases, bug fixes are provided for 6 months and security fixes are provided for 1 year.[7]
Linux kernel Kernel 11 October 2008 (2008-10-11)
(v2.6.27)
2 years[8] Varies Linux kernel v2.6.16 and v2.6.27, were unofficially supported in LTS fashion[9] before a 2011 working group in the Linux Foundation started a formal Long Term Support Initiative.[10][11]
Linux Mint Linux distribution 8 June 2008 (2008-06-08) 5 years[12] 6 months At version 13 the LTS period increased from three years to five, since Linux Mint derives from Ubuntu.
Matomo Web analytics 3 February 2016 (2016-02-03)
(v2.16)[13][14]
≥12 months[13] ~4 weeks[15]
Node.js Runtime system 12 October 2015 (2015-10-12)
(v4.2.0)[16]
18 months 12 months
Symfony Application framework June 2013 (2013-06) 3 years 8 months
Tiki-wiki Wiki/CMS May 2009 (Tiki3) 5 years 6 months Every third version is a Long Term Support (LTS) version.
Trisquel 7.0 [17] Linux distribution 2014-11-04 5 years 1 year Linux Kernel-libre 3.13, GNOME fallback 3.12 and Abrowser or GNU IceCat
TYPO3 CMS January 2011 (2011-01)
(v4.5 LTS)[18]
3 years (min.) Varies TYPO3 is a web application stewarded by the TYPO3 Association.
Ubuntu Linux distribution 1 June 2006 (2006-06-01)
(v6.06 LTS)[19]
5 years[20] 9 months1 A new LTS version is released every two years. From 2006 through 2011, LTS support for the desktop was for approximately two years, and for servers five, but LTS versions are now supported for five years for both.[19][20]
Windows 10 Operating system 2 August 2016 (2016-08-02)
(v10.0.14393)[21]
10 years[22] 18 months (previously 8-12 months) [22] The Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) (previously Long-Term Servicing Branch) releases of Windows 10 are supported for 10 years for mission critical machines. The LTSC release gets monthly security updates; the updates to the LTSC release bring little to no feature changes. Every 2-3 years, a new major LTSC release is published, but businesses may opt to stay on their current LTSC version until its end-of-life. The LTSC release is available only for businesses running the Windows 10 Enterprise edition. Regular consumers on the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) get new versions of the operating system approximately every six months (previously every four months) while business customers get upgraded to new versions of SAC approximately four months after Microsoft released the SAC release for regular consumers (previously a separate release is done approximately every eight months).[22]
1.^ The support period for Ubuntu's parent distribution, Debian, is one year after the release of the next stable version.[23][24] For Debian 6.0 "Squeeze" there is an LTS project to provide security updates until February 2016. Decision on providing LTS for later releases is pending.[25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Release and support cycle". Joomla! Documentation. Retrieved 2017-06-20. 
  2. ^ "WHMCS Long-Term Support". WHMCS Documentation. WHMCS Ltd. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Graham, Tim (25 June 2015). "Django's Roadmap". djangoproject.com. Django Software Foundation. 
  4. ^ van Geest, M.; et al. (22 August 2011). "Release and support cycle". Joomla! Documentation. Joomla! Project Team. Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Barnes, Eric L. (1 May 2015). "Everything we know about Laravel 5.1 – Updated". laravel-news.com. Laravel-news. 
  6. ^ Barnes, Eric L. (30 April 2015). "Laravel announces v5.1 will be LTS". laravel-news.com. Laravel-news. 
  7. ^ "Support Policy". laravel.com. 
  8. ^ "Despite what various news sites out there may have told you, kernel 4.14 LTS ..." Retrieved 2017-12-01. 
  9. ^ Bunk, Adrian (11 October 2008). "Linux 2.6.27 will be a longtime supported kernel". Linux kernel (Mailing list). Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  10. ^ Larabel, Michael (26 October 2011). "Linux Foundation Backs Long-Term Support Kernels". Phoronix. Phoronix Media. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  11. ^ "What is LTSI?". linuxfoundation.org. The Linux Foundation. Archived from the original on 5 October 2014. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  12. ^ "Linux Mint Releases". linuxmint.com. Archived from the original on 17 December 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Aubry, Matthieu (January 11, 2016). "Announcing Long Term Support in Matomo 2 – The analytics platform for your mission critical projects". Official Matomo Blog. Retrieved 2018-08-28. 
  14. ^ "Milestones - matomo-org/matomo". GitHub. Retrieved 2018-08-28. 
  15. ^ "When is the next release of Matomo? What is the release schedule?". Matomo.org. Retrieved 2018-08-28. 
  16. ^ https://nodejs.org/en/blog/release/v4.2.0/
  17. ^ Trisquel Belenos
  18. ^ Baschny, Ernesto; et al. (26 January 2011). "TYPO3 4.5". TYPO3Wiki. TYPO3 Association. Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  19. ^ a b Brockmeier, Joe (1 June 2006). "Mark Shuttleworth on Ubuntu Long Term Support". Linux.com. Linux Foundation. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  20. ^ a b Darra, Clive; et al. (23 May 2006). "LTS". Ubuntu Wiki. Canonical Ltd. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  21. ^ "Windows 10 release information". technet.microsoft.com. Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  22. ^ a b c "Overview of Windows as a service". technet.microsoft.com. Retrieved 2016-03-16. 
  23. ^ Kern, Philipp; Piat, Franklin; Simmons, Geoff; et al. (19 April 2006). "Point Releases". Debian Wiki. Debian Project. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  24. ^ "Debian security FAQ". Debian.org. Debian Project. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  25. ^ "LTS - Debian Wiki". Debian Project. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 

Further reading[edit]