Linux LTS Kernels Moves to a 2-Year Support Period

Breaking changes: the Linux LTS (Long Term Support) kernel support will be reduced from six to two years. Learn more about it here!

The Linux community, known for its resilience and commitment to progress, is again on the precipice of change. This time, it significantly alters the Linux LTS (Long Term Support) kernel support, which promises to reshape how we approach long-term system stability.

A Shift in Linux LTS: From 6 to 2 Years

Speaking at the ongoing Open Source Summit Europe in Bilbao, Spain, Jonathan Corbet, Linux kernel developer, informed that a significant change is on the horizon – the Long Term Support (LTS) for kernel versions is expected to be reduced from six to two years.

Usually, the Linux LTS kernel versions are supported for six years. This maintenance period includes a period of active support plus a period of extended support, during which critical security updates and bug fixes are provided.

In the table below are the currently supported Linux kernel LTS versions.

ReleaseReleasedSecurity Support
6.1 (LTS)9 months ago
(11 Dec 2022)
Ends in 3 years
(31 Dec 2026
5.15 (LTS)1 year and 10 months ago
(31 Oct 2021)
Ends in 3 years
(31 Oct 2026)
5.10 (LTS)2 years and 9 months ago
(13 Dec 2020)
Ends in 3 years
(01 Dec 2026)
5.4 (LTS)3 years and 10 months ago
(25 Nov 2019)
Ends in 2 years
(01 Dec 2025)
4.14 (LTS)5 years and 10 months ago
(12 Nov 2017)
Ends in 3 months
(01 Jan 2024)

What Is Driving the Change?

Corbet points to two main reasons for reducing the Linux LTS kernel maintenance period from 6 to 2 years. The first is the entirely reasonable, that “There’s really no point to maintaining it for that long because people aren’t using them.

What can I add, except that maintaining LTS kernel versions for an extended period, such as six years, may not always be necessary? After all, who in 2023 relies on and needs support for Linux kernel 4.14?

Sure, some servers still rely on it, but that’s more of an exception confirming the general rule.

Furthermore, maintaining such old versions necessitates a lot of work that takes effort that you and I often don’t even realize. This gets us to the second major factor, which is far more worrying.

Kernel developers are just burning out. Yes, according to The Linux Foundation, the development of the Linux kernel involves the work of over 15,000 highly skilled professionals since 2005, and only a few are paid for their work.

Everyone else contributes to the kernel’s development and maintenance in their spare time, willingly giving their highly skilled labor.

Which, with the simultaneous support of 6 currently maintained LTS versions, invariably leads to burnout. What is the problem’s solution? In short, companies that rely on Linux must recognize that giving back financially is in their best interests.

Finally, Corbet believes that the fast-growing Rust programming language is only a matter of time before it becomes part of the future of the Linux kernel. And that means lots of new professionals to help with its development and maintenance.

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.

Think You're an Ubuntu Expert? Let's Find Out!

Put your knowledge to the test in our lightning-fast Ubuntu quiz!
Ten questions to challenge yourself to see if you're a Linux legend or just a penguin in the making.

1 / 10

Ubuntu is an ancient African word that means:

2 / 10

Who is the Ubuntu's founder?

3 / 10

What year was the first official Ubuntu release?

4 / 10

What does the Ubuntu logo symbolize?

5 / 10

What package format does Ubuntu use for installing software?

6 / 10

When are Ubuntu's LTS versions released?

7 / 10

What is Unity?

8 / 10

What are Ubuntu versions named after?

9 / 10

What's Ubuntu Core?

10 / 10

Which Ubuntu version is Snap introduced?

The average score is 68%