Administrators who were nervous about ageing Ubuntu machines can breathe easy, a few more years of support have been added. Canonical brings 16.04 and 14.04 LTS into the ten-year fold. Users still on 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) released in April 2014 now have up to April 2024 to make the move to a more recent version.

The previous expiry date was sometime in 2022. Xenial Xerus (16.04 LTS) which dropped into the Extended Security Maintenance in April this year, had its best-before date move from April 2024 to April 2026.

What the changes mean

Ubuntu has quietly been working on updating its support and blog posts to align with the change. The extension is a welcome one for enterprises that might be reluctant to dig around in a server that has been working quite well for a long time without intervention.

The assumption here is that some people have coughed up the additional resources to get ESM, which requires an Ubuntu Advantage subscription (personal users or Ubuntu Community Members get it for free).

Other types of users have to cough up the cash required to keep the status quo.

Redmond takes a similar but different approach

The move is in contrast with Microsoft, which plans to take a machete to some of its Long-Term Serving Channels to force people into the upgrade wagon.

Again, if those users have the budget for it, Redmond will keep Windows 7 (whose support ended in 2020) going for a few years. Like Microsoft’s Extended Security Updates, Canonical’s ESM is all about security, including Linux kernel LivePatching for high and critical CVEs in the base OS, as well as other mistakes elsewhere in the distribution.

Later LTS distros are unchanged at a potential decade of support, although both are yet to reach ESM territory.