Debian 9 (Stretch) Reached End-Of-Life, an Explanation of the Maintenance Model

On June 30, 2022, Debian 9 (Stretch) reached the End of Life (EOL). Let's recall some of the highlights from this release.

Debian is a Linux distribution composed of free, open-source software developed by the community-supported Debian Project. Without question, Debian is one of the fundamental Linux distributions of our time.

One of its interesting characteristics is that distribution does not follow a pre-planned release pattern. What exactly does this mean?

For example, we know that Ubuntu releases a new version every six months. On the other hand, Debian has taken a different approach to its releases, according to the slogan “Release only when everything is ready.”

That is, a new version is only made available when it is 100% assured that every element meets Debian’s high security and quality standards. As a result, the Debian project releases a new major version approximately every two years.

One of these releases, Debian 9 Stretch, reached the end-of-life (EOL) on June 30, 2022. So, rather than simply mentioning the fact, we decided to go a step further for our readers and recall what Debian 9 brought us.

Recalling Debian 9

Debian 9 (Stretch)

Debian 9, code-named “Stretch,” was released on June 17, 2017, powered by Linux kernel 4.9 LTS. The distro contained more than 51,000 packages. The final minor update was version 9.13, released on July 18, 2020.

Debian 9 was one of the first distributions to replace MySQL with MariaDB as the default MySQL implementation, driven and followed by the best open-source practices, which is fully expected from a distribution trying to stick as close as possible to the FOSS concept.

Moreover, after many years of using Iceweasel and Icedove, the debranded versions of Firefox and Thunderbird, Debian 9 decided to revert to their original implementations. As a result, the Debian 9 users received back the stock and unmodified versions of the Firefox browser and Thunderbird mail client.

Stretch was the first Debian release to include the modern branch of GnuPG in the gnupg package. So Elliptic curve cryptography, enhanced defaults, a more modular architecture, and improved smartcard compatibility were all introduced.

And last but not least, the Intel i586 (Pentium), i586/i686 hybrid, and PowerPC architectures were no longer supported.

Debian 9 EOL

However, let us shed some light on the Debian release lifecycle for our readers. Debian 9 began its LTS (Long Term Support) phase on July 6, 2020, three years after its initial release. During the LTS period, all packages are supported except games.

But first, let’s explain what that is. You’re probably aware that Ubuntu, for example, produces an LTS release every two years, with the ones in between lasting only nine months.

Well, Debian has a different approach. There is no such differentiation, and the goal is for each release to have the longest possible maintenance period.

In other words, Debian Long Term Support (LTS) is a project that aims to make every Debian stable releases last for at least five years. However, Debian LTS is managed by a separate group of volunteers and companies interested in its success rather than the Debian Security team.

As a result, when the Debian Security team stops working, the Debian LTS team takes over security maintenance of the various releases.

So let us now summarize. After their initial release date, stable Debian releases receive approximately three years of support. At the end of those three years, the Debian LTS team adds another two years by releasing updates, bringing the release’s total lifetime to five years.

So, with the passing of June 30, 2022, a few days ago, Debian 9’s 5-year maintenance period has ended. Therefore, if you are still using it, you should upgrade to a newer version immediately. This is because Debian 9 will no longer receive security updates, leaving computers that use it vulnerable.

Of course, in the end, we will mention another option, ELTS. Extended Long Term Support (ELTS) is a paid service that extends the life of Debian releases to ten years. In other words, the ELTS extends the LTS period by adding another five years.

However, ELTS is not an official Debian project, and therefore, no Debian infrastructure or resources are involved. Instead, the project is managed by Freexian.

The important factor to note here is that customers determine the scope of supported packages, but fortunately, security updates and patches are provided free of charge to all Debian users.

We are confident that you now have a much better understanding of Debian’s maintenance model. We hope we were of help.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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