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THREAD NOTICE: This issue has been raised to Mark Shuttleworth, the Ubuntu Community Council, and the Ubuntu Technical Board via this email message (TB is the only public archive version of the email). You may wish to wait for official governance and definitions on "End of Standard Support", "End of Life", UA-I, and ESM from Canonical, the Technical Board, and the Community Council on this matter before officially deciding a policy change here on Ask Ubuntu.

I have searched Meta and could not find a specific answer to this question.

Another question: Can you play java minecraft on a linux 1gb ram ubuntu 14.04 computestick?, was closed as off-topic, claiming "end of life Ubuntu release".

Referring to Ubuntu Wiki page: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Releases, I see that Canonical clearly states that 14.04 LTS End of Life is April 2022.

Referring to Ask Ubuntu Help page: https://askubuntu.com/help/on-topic, states: "Support for versions for Ubuntu releases past their Support or "End of Life" (EOL)", (not past "End of Standard Support"), are off topic. The Help page makes no mention of ESM versions being disqualified.

Extended Security Maintenance is free for personal use: https://ubuntu.com/advantage

Will someone please present official documentation to clear this up. Not just hearsay, "I heard from a friend of a friend's friend", or "everybody knows this" or old wives tales, etc. Give actual facts please.

One excuse that I have heard a number of times, is that many users are not familiar with older versions of Ubuntu and can not answer the questions, well there are many, many users not familiar with some third party software that is on-topic at Ask Ubuntu.

I do not understand why some users want to have so much control over what other users do, it does not reflect kindly on the Ubuntu community.

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    Thanks @pomsky, guiverc posted that link on "the other question" I mention above. The question seemed to me to be about terminology. I see little justification in any of the comments to make an ESM release off-topic Most of the comments in the link are opinion based, and questions looking for opinion based answers are off-topic. so far we have two facts, EOL for 14.04 is April 2022 and EOL releases are off-topic on Ask Ubuntu. If there are no other facts overruling our two facts, I think we must assume that 14.04 is on-topic and that any question closed in error should be reopened. Feb 16 at 8:46
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    @pomsky: Kulfy has pointed out that his question was posted before ESM was made free for personal use. and that Canonical's definition of "end of life" changed since that time. See: web.archive.org/web/20190301113535/https://wiki.ubuntu.com/… Feb 16 at 13:10
  • We should also point out that this has been discussed before, and still is going to likely be the same. This is basically the same discussion as pomsky's linked post.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Feb 17 at 2:23
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    @Thomas Ward: Kulfy has commented in pomsky's linked post that things have changed since he asked that question, his latest comment is: "this question was posted even before ESM was made free for personal use. Moreover, Canonical's definition of "end of life" changed with time". Feb 17 at 2:36
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You're right that the Ubuntu wiki uses the term "End of Life" in a way that supports your argument, i.e. it says that Ubuntu 14.04 will be EOL in April 2022.

Disconcertingly, the mobile version of the ubuntu.com release cycle page uses the term "End of Life" in a completely different way (the desktop version of the page avoids the term entirely, though it does link to the wiki page which contradicts the table in the mobile version).

End of Life for 14.04 April 2019

From this I conclude that Ubuntu 14.04 is EOL, and Ubuntu 14.04 is not EOL, and therefore, everything is true; in particular it is true that we currently have a policy that is not really possible to understand or consistently apply.

Thomas Ward has asked Canonical to clear things up, and they have said that they are working on the public definitions.

In the meantime, I think we've all been using the method described in chat by terdon to decide what old releases are off, topic, that is:

Has @ThomasWard posted an EOL notice about this release on meta? If yes, it is off topic and if not, it isn't

Also in this long meantime of EOL being poorly defined, Thomas Ward has argued that we should support those versions of Ubuntu that Canonical say are in Standard Support according to the wiki page. Perhaps we can consider ourselves part of Standard Support, although, as Thomas Ward wrote

there has been increasing confusion as to what "standard support" means, and how it applies to community support mediums such as IRC, the Forums, Ask Ubuntu, etc

He has also proposed rewording or clarifying the policy we have to use a clear definition of "standard support" instead of relying implicitly on Canonical's confusing definitions of "end of life". This seems like a significant improvement on the current situation to me.

But I would like us to take this opportunity to consider what our currently incoherent EOL policy is trying to do, what it's actually doing, and whether/why we do want to continue with that.

I thought the justification for closing questions about (supposedly specific to, but in practice just all of them unless someone appeals a closure on meta) old releases was that we want to strongly encourage people to upgrade, because old releases are insecure. I feel the existence of ESM does challenge that justification, as you have argued, especially if ESM is free. Personally, I'm not convinced that libraries being old leading to compatibility issues with new software and whatnot is a good reason to declare questions off topic. The "it's for your own good" argument seems to me just not at all in the spirit of software freedom at that point, though of course we're not actually stopping people from using old releases by closing questions about them, just making it harder, and maybe I might be able to persuade myself that that is the right thing to do.

Seeing what happens on the site, it does look as if people here want there to be a policy that allows questions about old releases to be closed. It does serve the purpose of getting this tricky question off my plate.

fielding team celebrate getting batsman out in cricket match - "You're using Ubuntu 14.04? Out!"

One thing on my mind when trying to consider this question of what versions we should support is that, we are not tech support, or customer service -- we are a Stack Exchange community, and we are "working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about Ubuntu.". Nobody here is in any way obliged to answer any particular question, about 14.04 or any other release, and the question here is not, do we want to answer these questions, but, do we want to actively prevent them from being answered? The answer to this can totally be yes, like, "yes, because we want to strongly encourage people to upgrade as it's in their own interest" or "yes because our community can't reasonably be expected to address issues people have with ancient releases", but we do need an answer, especially as the votes on this meta question about closing questions about EOL releases and the one it's closed against suggest that it's a fairly unpopular policy, at least among the small subgroup of our community that uses meta, or has done so over time.

TL;DR

In practice, questions about Ubuntu 14.04 are off topic on Ask Ubuntu, but the policy behind that practice is in great need of revision, one way or another. Thank you for challenging that policy and reopening discussion about it, pushing for things to change for the better.

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    +10, Thank you from 480 miles due south, for your clear answer. Your answer brings to mind that many of the answers on Ask Ubuntu are obsolete and do not apply to versions later than 14.04. If we outlaw questions concerning the safe use of versions covered by ESM, should we not also remove those obsolete answers? It does seem a little two sided that some of these old obsolete questions and answers, (with mega upvotes), were submitted by the same people eager to close questions on ESM versions. Mar 13 at 12:31
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    (see the "duplicated" answer on this page) askubuntu.com/questions/1320271/… What a way to waste the OP;s time. Mar 13 at 12:31
  • I clicked your link to the mobile version of the ubuntu.com release cycle page. I did not see the chart you posted, however the chart Levente posted is there? A search did not find "EOL" or "End of Life"/ Mar 13 at 13:23
  • @C.S.Cameron I get Levente's chart on the desktop version - try opening it from a mobile? This is what makes the whole thing so absurd...
    – Zanna Mod
    Mar 13 at 13:54
  • Ohh! Mobile like in phone. My wife uses it for reading eBooks. It is not connected to the internet, I think the policy is only about a month old, perhaps the mobile page is a little old. My apologies. Mar 13 at 14:08
  • @C.S.Cameron totally my bad - I think I need to edit my post to make that part clearer. I'll try to do that later
    – Zanna Mod
    Mar 13 at 14:39
  • To future readers, this link might be helpful: meta.askubuntu.com/q/19658 Aug 5 at 19:18
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14.04 has gone End of Life for the purposes of Community Support, which makes most questions about it (other than how to upgrade to a newer release) offtopic here on Ask Ubuntu.

ESM is generally a paid service which provides extended security updates but only security updates, and not long term bug fixes, support for other software, etc. It is designed to let you use the old systems for a short period of time so you can work on migration, not so you can continue to use outdated systems.

If you are using 14.04, it's End of Life from a Community Support perspective - including here on Ask Ubuntu. To get continued 14.04 support beyond its EOL date you need to pay Canonical for the Ubuntu Advantage solution for paid support for 14.04 and endpoint systems (and that gets pricey quickly).


Some notes on this:

When ESM was announced for 12.04 and 14.04, the definition of "end of life" for the release per ESM is later. However, Standard Support means the primary support mechanisms of the Community, Ask Ubuntu, and other primary support mediums such as the IRC systems.

Indeed, the IRC channels and tidbits even say this:

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) was the 20th release of Ubuntu. !End-of-life was April 25th, 2019. Paid support (ESM) is available. See also !esm, !eol, !eolupgrade

While the ESM repositories may be free for a limited number of personal machines for use, this does NOT include paid support from Canonical - any actual support under ESM has always, and should still be, Paid Only, meaning that for actual support under ESM you need a paid contract with Canonical - the ESM repositories may be 'free' but that does not extend to the Paid Support service.

If you really want to argue this, then you need to approach the Ubuntu Community Council and Canonical with your argument, because we tend to follow the guidance of the other support mediums that're maintained by the official governance teams.

ALSO to quote the blog that was linked by CS Cameron earlier:

For Ubuntu 14.04 users and UA Infrastructure customers to get started with UA client, visit ubuntu.com/advantage and please contact support** with any questions.

**Only Ubuntu Advantage for Infrastructure customers will have access to the support contact link via the Canonical support portal. If you are not a UA Infrastructure customer, please visit ubuntu.com/advantage to subscribe and get started with the new UA Client.

And per the Ubuntu Advantage Infrastructure (UA-I) page (https://ubuntu.com/advantage):

  • Anyone can use UA Infrastructure Essential for free on up to 3 machines (limitations apply).

... and Essential comes with no paid support:

enter image description here

... so in order to get continued support from Canonical you need to pay for Standard UA-I.

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  • This List of Releases (last edited 2019-03-01 06:36:09) shows Ubuntu 14.04 EOL as April 2019. The current list of Releases (last edited 2021-02-16 22:53:50) shows Ubuntu 14.04 EOL as April 2022. I would assume that Canonical has full control of this subject and what they say must be correct. Ask Ubuntu sets "past their Support or "End of Life" (EOL)" as off topic. Now you claim that Ask Ubuntu does not know what they are saying. If Ask Ubuntu means something different than EOL they should change their wording, if not we should follow what is written and not improvise as we go. Feb 17 at 1:32
  • I think you will find that you are not correct in claiming that there is a charge for ESM for personal use, This too has been changed: ubuntu.com/blog/… Feb 17 at 1:34
  • @C.S.Cameron ESM is generally a paid service does not mean there's exceptions. Except that MOST of the case is a paid service.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Feb 17 at 2:16
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    Further, "Standard Support" includes community support. The EOL date is extended for two reasons: (1) ESM exists, and (2) Paid support is still available. This has always been the case.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Feb 17 at 2:17
  • @C.S.Cameron You really should read up on what 'free' ESM provides vs. what it doesn't, and what Ubuntu defines "Standard Support" for.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Feb 17 at 2:23
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    ESM is the free part of Ubuntu Advantage (UA) client. I read: "Access ESM, now free", "ESM provides fixes for high and critical CVEs for the most commonly used server packages in the Ubuntu main archive, and Livepatch permits users to apply critical kernel patches without rebooting. Access to these services ensures systems with longer development cycles or production lifespans remain patched against security vulnerabilities until 2022". That sounds pretty useful to me. So where does it say only: "Standard Support" includes community support". Please show reference. Feb 17 at 2:47
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    @C.S.Cameron as a member of the Community Council myself, I dug into details on the IRC team's side of this and found similar discrepancies. I still believe ESM refers to the repositories and not actual support. Refer also to the quotes I made from the blog you linked as well. I would suggest that we wait for governance guidelines to come down from Canonical, the Community Council, and the Technical Board on this matter before we move forward, and until we hear back operate on the original premise that 'ESM does not entitle you to community support' as the original discussion stated.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Feb 17 at 2:57
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    And what you have posted are "plans for enterprise use" I and most Ask Ubuntu users are not enterprises, but we do qualify because "all community users are entitled to a free Ubuntu Advantage for Infrastructure account". Feb 17 at 2:58
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    And why not allow discussion of the disputed subjects until, if and when, they are outlawed? That is how they do it in real life. and that is what is currently written. Feb 17 at 3:02
  • define "they". This is not a democracy or a democratic republic - this is also not a dictatorship, but this has been pretty much argued into the dirt last year. And is continuing to be hammered into the dirt at this point. Getting governance on this from the source (Canonical) will ultimately answer the question. I don't mind debate, but because none of these terms have been concretely defined anywhere by anyone it's basically just arguing until these terms are concretely defined by Canonical. (EOL vs. End of Standard Support).
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Feb 17 at 3:06
  • As for the definition of ESM, this is explained pretty darn clearly in the blog post you linked and Kulfy and pomsky have referred to as well with the clear statement that 14.04 clients to get started with the UA client to go to [advantage url] and to contact support via Canonical.. This is what was ALSO historically decided on the 12.04 front, which even as this is discussed here or elsewhere is still the governing decision. I'm happy to "unlock" this, but the point still stands that end of support or not, it's still an "Extremely Old Release" people should not keep using.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Feb 17 at 3:07
  • AND to quote another official Ubuntu blog post about upgrading vs. ESM: "For those who cannot action on an Ubuntu 16.04 LTS upgrade by April 2021, it is recommended to continue receiving security patches through ESM to avoid a potential security breach." - and for the vast majority of users, this means upgrading, not sticking on ESM "just because".
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Feb 17 at 3:11
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    Why are you tallking about what has been historically decided on the 12.04 front? If historically decided, where is it documented? Reference please. Kulfy has commented in pomsky's linked post that things have changed since he asked that question in Aug 2019, his latest comment is: "this question was posted even before ESM was made free for personal use. Moreover, Canonical's definition of "end of life" changed with time" . Anyway, this question is about Ubuntu 14.04, not Ubuntu history. Feb 17 at 5:29
  • Note @C.S.Cameron: Some of the 12.04 ESM blog posts have been edited, others removed (from ubuntu.com). The situation from 12.04 to more recent 14.04 has changed as Canonical have changed their view of things (working on Ubuntu News; we copy & quote verbatim (usually header. footer & some formatting only changed).. and it's here that I've noticed the 'source' has changed. We've been requested to amend our 'quote' to match a change; other times we only notice when readers comment asking why wording conflicts). **Note: changes are usually subtle or minor
    – guiverc
    Feb 18 at 7:04
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    @guiverc: I have read your post seven times and am not sure how It affects what wiki.ubuntu.com/Releases and what askubuntu.com/help/on-topic currently say. Both of those pages are quite clear to me. It is also clear that Canonical has changed the rules since meta.askubuntu.com/questions/18790/… was posted and that question can not be expected to be a duplicate of. or answer my current question, especially since neither of it's answers were accepted. It will be interesting to see what the recipients of Mr Ward's email have to say, Feb 18 at 8:20
0

Just to help visualizing the issue at hand, I include this helpful illustration from the Ubuntu release-cycle page:

enter image description here

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    Thank you, however It would be better if you show End of Life as defined by Canonical, that is the subject of this question. Feb 17 at 1:42
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    @C.S.Cameron You said "According to Ubuntu Wiki page, Ubuntu 14.04 is not EOL until April 2022". I indeed see that date in this image: it's where the dark purple bar ends. As far as I understand, the debate in this thread is going on about whether AskUbuntu is willing to include the dark purple sections of these bars (the ESM phase) into what is considered on-topic. So the visualization is still relevant and useful?
    – Levente
    Feb 20 at 13:09
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    I am glad to see they reopened your answer, It was closed before I could upvote it. Ask Ubuntu uses the term End of Life, or EOL to determine if a Ubuntu version.is off-topic according to the help page. Canonical says that EOL is at the end of your purple bars. Some people seem to have a hard time accepting that. I have a hard time with people who try to change the rules in the middle of the game and ignore the rule book. The only problem with your chart is that it does not say if EOL or Off-topic is at end of pink or end of purple, You still get my upvote.. Feb 20 at 13:29
  • Actually, I have deleted/undeleted it myself.
    – Levente
    Feb 20 at 13:39
-2

Is Ubuntu 14.04 off-topic on Ask Ubuntu

According to Ask Ubuntu, a release of Ubuntu is only off-topic if it is past EOL.

According to Ubuntu Wiki page, Ubuntu 14.04 is not EOL until April 2022.

These two facts should be enough to establish beyond doubt that Ubuntu 14.04 is not off-topic on Ask Ubuntu.

Some people have claimed that when Ask Ubuntu says EOL, it really means "End of Standard Support". (as if Ask Ubuntu does not understand what it is saying).

If Canonical is still supporting 14.04, then Ask Ubuntu should also still be supporting 14.04. Standard Support starts and ends with Canonical. I therefore endeavored to determine the degree to which Canonical still supports Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

I started out by installing an Ubuntu 14.04.4 ISO I had in my downloads folder. (I probably should have downloaded ubuntu-14.04.6-desktop-amd64.iso from https://releases.ubuntu.com/14.04/) . At this point we at least know for a fact that the downloading of 14.04 Desktop and Server is fully supported by Canonical.

During the install process I selected the option to download updates while installing. I think that if I would have used point release 6, there might have been fewer updates and the process might have gone faster.

It was a pleasure to log into 14.04 after so long, sort of nostalgic.

First priority was security. For 14.04, this means signing up for Ubuntu Advantage (UA) client and installing ESM.

The Ubuntu wiki page for information on installing Ubuntu ESM is https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UA client. the page directed me to https://ubuntu.com/advantage where I completed the registration process and ended up with a free token.

Back on https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UA client I continued with Installing the UA client by running a couple of commands as instructed. Next I proceeded to Attach the UA client. I ran the line I got when registering sudo ua attach [UNIQUECODE], (Please use your own free token).

Running sudo ua status I confirmed that ESM was enabled.

I completed the upgrade by running sudo apt update and then sudo apt upgrade. The installer ran for quite a while.

I ran Software Updater and It installed quite a few security updates. All Settings/Overview tells me System Up-To-Date.

It appears to me that Canonical is truly supporting Ubuntu 14.04 for free. The question is whether Ask Ubuntu will also continue to support Ubuntu 14.04 until it's End of Life as claimed on the Help page?

AND EVERYTHING WAS FREE

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  • @Thomas Ward: it has been two weeks since you sent this question to Mark Shuttleworth, the Ubuntu Community Council, and the Ubuntu Technical Board. The Ubuntu Wiki page has not since been updated and the Ask Ubuntu Help page has also not been updated. It seems like Mark Shuttleworth, the Ubuntu Community Council, and the Ubuntu Technical Board agree with the current wording. This makes sense. The only critical reason to abandon a release is for security issues. If Canonical is providing security updates for a release, Ask Ubuntu is also obliged to continue support for the release. Mar 7 at 13:08
  • Canonical is working internally on this - this kind of thing takes time for them to discuss.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Mar 7 at 16:07
  • Currently, your opinion is your opinion. I however don't see the community of Ask Ubuntu rallying to your answer - given the vote counts nothing has changed in terms of overwhelming support for your proposed changes to the policy. Your accepting your own answer on this matter doesn't change that fact at the moment.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Mar 7 at 16:09
  • @Thomas Ward: So far I stand 9 upvotes to your 4 upvotes on this page. If we are counting downvotes I have a rep increase of 78 vs your 38. Mar 8 at 3:06
  • @C.S.Cameron reputation doesn't exist on Meta posts, therefore the 'rep increase' component means nothing. Question upvotes don't affect the answer upvotes which drive policy changes. On that basis, your answer as +3/-4 (-1 net) vs. my answers' +4/-1 (+3 net). While Canonical continues to address the issue presented via Mark and the Community Council (they list it as a 'medium level of work' issue), the votes alone here are what'll be driving the policy
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Mar 8 at 7:58
  • @Thomas Ward: Above you say "This is not a democracy or a democratic republic", now you say "the votes alone here are what'll be driving the policy" Mar 9 at 2:00
  • I have edited your comment to remove the speculative part since objections were raised about it. Since there is no revision history, you can find the full text here. It would be nice if more duplicate closures were correct, but I think that matter is best kept separate from the issue of our unclear EOL policy :)
    – Zanna Mod
    Mar 10 at 17:29
  • @Zanna: Have a look at this page: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/57317982 TW is telling people to come to this page and downvote me. Mar 13 at 13:31
  • Those chat messages would definitely be better if they did not assure only those people who disagree with your argument that their opinions are valid, though perhaps it was not intended to come out that way XD
    – Zanna Mod
    Mar 13 at 17:46
  • The logic you have used to conclude that 14.04 is on topic is perfectly correct imho. It's just that while Canonical were shifting the ground under our feet, we didn't know. When I say "we" I mean this community of folks like you and me haphazardly pitching in as we choose. So our practice had been to close questions about 14.04. Canonical changed the meaning of words, invented a new thing, and, for real, Ask Ubuntu did not know what itself was saying. To suddenly support the new thing would be a change. That is not to say the change would be bad. Personally I think it would be very good.
    – Zanna Mod
    Sep 3 at 16:39
  • See also meta.askubuntu.com/posts/19543/timeline#comment_42404 <-- it could have gone either way. Hope to see you back tomorrow. I'm sorry not to have been more help. I hope you will believe me that in my own meagre and mediocre way, I have tried. And I will keep trying!
    – Zanna Mod
    Sep 3 at 16:42

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