This is a proposal for adjusting a policy. The Community at large should vote on this change and determine whether or not they are in support of it. This will be as simple as upvoting the official answer tallys - one for "Yes I support the changes" and one for "No I do not support the changes". Only upvotes on the answer of your choice will be counted.
DO NOT downvote the "Yes" and "No" answers here, please - simply upvote that which is your support or not for the proposed change. Only the upvote counts on each of the two main answers will be counted.
This will be available for exactly 30 days until April 12th, which should give the majority of the community the chance to weigh in. At which point, we will be able to tally the votes and consider that as Community Consensus on whether to change the policy or not.
As of April 12, 2021 at 16:20 UTC, the vote counts are as follows:
ISSUE: Revise policy to explicitly include "past end-of-standard-support or end of life, whichever happens first".
Votes in favor: 39
Votes against: 8.
Given this tally, there is overwhelming support from the community which means that this will be adopted as policy, and the relevant help center topics and close reasons will be revised accordingly.
If you don't want to read the justification for my proposal because you either don't want to or don't care to, then search for "I would like to propose" and read the proposal beneath the extra large bold heading line. That's where the change proposal lies.
Currently, the policy is we do not support "End of Life" releases. This is a proposed amendment to adapt for the changing landscape that "Extended Security Maintenance" provides.
This applies for 12.04, 14.04, 16.04, and future LTS releases that get ESM after a standard support period of 5 years.
The terms for "End of Standard Support" and "End of Life" are being further defined by Canonical, however they do not have a policy on this yet drafted for the terms "End of Standard Support" and "End of Life" vs. "ESM". So, as such, let's abide by the general interpretation of these terms, and interpretations provided by Ubuntu Release announcements and pages relevant to the components being discussed.
This said, there are three cases to define here, as there are three terms:
End of Life - when a release is fully dead and no longer supported by Ubuntu or Canonical at all
End of Standard Support - the standard 5 year life cycle for LTSes through which maintenance updates and package updates of a non-security nature are accepted.
Extended Security Maintenance (aka ESM) - from their page:
Continue to receive security updates for the Ubuntu base OS and critical infrastructure components – Ceph, OpenStack and more – with ESM in your Ubuntu Advantage subscription.
Ubuntu Advantage for Infrastructure is available for physical servers, virtual machines, containers, and desktops. Free for personal use.
- A note on Security Updates: Having had to handle three 12.04 and six 14.04 systems in my Full Time job, I can point that only critical security updates to packages in Main pocket of the repos have been getting updates from my observation - there are no "general security updates" that I've seen land in ESM yet.
There are some key takeaways from this:
Ubuntu Advantage for Infrastructure, the "free" version, is an extremely stripped down version of the "Essential" category of UA-I subscriptions - in that it only provides the ESM repositories and no paid support. It provides Livepatch access and ESM repository access only. It does NOT provide paid Canonical support, or anything else. That requires a "Standard" or "Premium" license from Canonical, including for Personal Support.
The Enterprise versions of the Ubuntu Advantage plans are listed here below for relevance, screenshot from the UA-I page:
Extended Security Maintenance is ongoing security patching for certain packages by the Security Team - nothing more. It does not guarantee ongoing support and bug fixes or updates for non-security issues for a repository. It also does not guarantee that the age of the system and its libraries is going to get you support for newer releases - that is, the C libraries and any other libraries in the repos at ESM time are ancient and many of the changes in them are going to bar them from working with newer software. This was part of the justification for "End of Life" not being supported here on Ask Ubuntu, the other being "Users should upgrade to a newer release to get continued support and features" - ESM aside, this probably should apply for "End of Standard Support".
The 'free' version of UA-I has substantial limitations as stated on the UA-I page:
Anyone can use UA Infrastructure Essential for free on up to 3 machines (limitations apply).
These limitations include: Lack of FIPS crypto modules, lack of EAL2, no Landscape access, No certified windows drivers for guests in KVM, security updates only, and finally no Canonical support.
The Release Announcement for 16.04 clearly stated:
Maintenance updates will be provided for 5 years for Ubuntu Desktop, Ubuntu Server, Ubuntu Cloud, Ubuntu Core, and Ubuntu Kylin. All the remaining flavours will be supported for 3 years.
Similarly, none of the 14.04 announcements have any ESM mentions, nor any statement that official general support by the community at large will continue past 5 years after the first release. (.0 .1 .2 .3 .4 .5 .6)
The actual 14.04 ESM release statement specifically states that the process to move things to old-releases for 14.04 has begun the moment that ESM began for 14.04. This is the same process for EOL releases which get all their data moved to old-releases and frozen, and then at a later date removed from the main repositories.
This is a follow-up to the Extended Support warning sent a month ago to confirm that as of April 25, 2019, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS basic support has ended. No more package updates will be accepted to the 14.04 primary archive, and any subsequent support will be done via Extended Security Maintenance. Over the coming weeks, various images will be archived, and the primary archive will be copied to old-releases.
Given that ESM is a Canonical Enterprise Product - even though the repositories are 'free' to users for 3 machines - this is still a Commercial Offering - this does not state that it extends general support for the version beyond Security Updates - think of this as Microsoft issuing out-of-band security patches for Windows 7 for a long period of time until they finally killed Windows 7 off. That doesn't mean Windows 7 is still supported, it just means that a security issue was major enough that they wanted to handle the inertia of people not updating or upgrading systems - this is essentially what ESM is for with Ubuntu.
Given all the above, I would like to propose to the community at large that we amend the support policy for Ubuntu Releases as follows:
We currently consider all releases that are past their End of Standard Support dates off topic. This is to clarify that even if a release has an option of Extended Security Maintenance, that doesn't make it on topic if it is past its End of Standard Support date.
For non-LTS releases that get only 9 months of support from release, they continue to not be supported past their EOL date.
For LTS releases that have 5 years of support plus ESM, we stop supporting the release once End of Standard Support (the 5 year maintenance updates cycle that is standard) has been reached. Once EOSS (End of Standard Support) is reached, the LTS version is considered "no longer supported on Ask Ubuntu", and users who want to get ongoing support for ESM enabled versions of their system need to reach out to Canonical with a paid contract for getting ongoing support for their system.
Any questions regarding supporting systems that have ESM enabled on them will be considered "offtopic" per #2 above. ESM is a Canonical product offering, and while it gives critical security updates it is not designed nor intended as a way to continue to use "End of Standard Support" systems - it was designed for the Enterprise which has core infrastructure that cannot be readily upgraded to have extra time to do that step, and not continue to provide 'consumer support' past standard release. Ask Ubuntu qualifies as Consumer Support - the Community at Large - and not paid Canonical support.