Linux To Get "Extended LTS" Releases, Kernel Support For Six Years
Linux right now offers a "Long Term Support" release where support for the kernel branch is maintained for two years, which is nice compared to kernel releases usually dropping maintenance around N+1.1 after the release. But moving forward, Linux LTS releases will now be maintained for six years.
The two-year Linux LTS cycle is suitable for many users, but one case where it's not long enough is the lifecycle of a smartphone and the status quo is many Android phones out there are still running on Linux kernels no longer receiving bug/security fixes. Via Google's Project Treble and cooperation with the upstream Linux community, that two year process is now being extended to six years.
This six-year Linux LTS kernel plan was announced yesterday at Linaro Connect. Greg KH will still be managing the Linux LTS releases. Beginning with the current Linux 4.4 LTS cycle will be extended for six years. Meanwhile, Linux 4.14 is the next LTS release currently being worked on that would then be supported until 2023. This should better cover the device lifecycle for Android phones and other devices that otherwise would within a year or two of their availability end up running on an out-of-date kernel.
Quite the difference compared to a two-year LTS release, though hopefully this won't cause any SoC vendors to now keep focusing exclusively on an older LTS release for basing their new patches / SoC enablement as opposed to trying to get the work in upstream quicker, considering how far already some Linux SoC support lags behind mainlined.
Thanks to Jordan for pointing out this new six year LTS design. The latest on Google's Project Treble for re-architecting the low-level Android stack to be more modular can be found via the video embedded below.