Greg Kroah-Hartman has laid out his plans this morning for handling Linux kernel releases in the future that will be supported for the long-term. The proposal is quite simple and is not handled radically different from now with regards to kernel releases that are maintained for extended periods of time.
Greg's proposal is to basically to flag a "-longterm" kernel once per calendar year. That long-term kernel is then maintained for a period of two years before it is dropped. The "normal" kernel releases will continue with their same flow and development cycle, which is dropping new point releases before a new major release occurs. These non-longterm kernels will continue to be what's used by most desktop Linux distributions and others. The -longterm kernels is what's targeted by enterprise Linux distributions (i.e. SUSE and Red Hat Enterprise Linux) for their long-term support model. The -longterm kernels will still have the same rules as normal kernel releases, with not introducing new features outside of the original merge window.
More details on Greg's long-term Linux kernel plans can be found via his blog
. Greg will also be at LinuxCon 2011