I'd like to rehash this topic as I was under the impression that EOL releases of Ubuntu are off-topic. The site has grown a lot since it was original discussed so I'd like to see if this is something we should continue doing or if we should consider questions about EOL'd releases as off-topic. This policy would likely cover questions that were asked while a release was supported but remain unanswered after EOL and new questions which are specifically about EOL releases.

EOL, End of Life, is defined as a release that no longer receives support from Canonical and are listed as EOL on the Releases wiki page

I'm in the "who cares" camp.

If someone's using an old OS and there are people out there that want to answer their questions, then why not?

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    But people aren't answering them right now. That's the issue. – jrg Dec 27 '12 at 20:15
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    Are we drowning in EOL questions or something? – Jorge Castro Dec 27 '12 at 20:18
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    There are still natty and maverick diehards out there, and there will be Lucid and oneiric people soon enough. – jrg Dec 27 '12 at 20:31
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    IMHO If someone is still using an old release, and need answers, i'd flag it as too localized because: who is that gonna help?? Its not supported anymore, almost nobody is using it and the tech industry just keeps moving. Its like that question I saw about the guy still on Win 98.. I mean com'on who wants to deal with that? And who will it help? – Seth Dec 27 '12 at 20:43
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    Dont see the point on not having them... I mean, if they get answered, fine, else they will be closed later on as too localized or NRAQ if there is not enough information on it to even know what it was all about. What is wrong with having EOL information the site? If its useful for someone that would be awesome... It's not that they are pooping in all the time. – Bruno Pereira Dec 27 '12 at 21:19

This is my argument against keeping them.

The Bug Squad and IRC council say "you should upgrade", and generally ignore them.

More specifically, the Bug Squad says "Try to replicate this bug on the latest stable and get back to us".

The questions about EOLed released that I've seen are all in the same vein - "How can I get software X on my 10.10". Well, the answer is ends up being (most of the time) this:

You have to compile python3 from scratch, and you have to get all of your dependencies lined up in a row just to be able to compile python3, and then you need the full gtk3 stack, and then we might be able to get you your software.

Or...wait for it... you can upgrade to the latest release, and save yourself all this trouble, and you're fine!

Quoting from another answer on another discussion about this:

On the flipside, the usefulness of EOL-specific questions falls precipitously as time passes, as does the population of people able to maintain them.

Thanks Jacob

One of the greatest things about Ask Ubuntu (compared to the Ubuntu wiki) is that we try to keep things up-to-date. Things don't go untouched since 2008. I'd be hard pressed to find a answer that hasn't been touched since the first day of Ask Ubuntu in 2010, and have it not work. Why? Because people care about their answers. As soon as it no longer becomes relevant to the stable releases, we need to talk about it. And probably delete it.

I'm not saying that on the day it becomes an EOL release, we close it as off-topic and tell them to upgrade. I'm saying that within 2-3 months, instead of just pointing them to the "how do I upgrade" question, we start closing them. Grace periods are nice and useful in this situation.

As Jorge Castro says here in his lightning talk at UDS-O, too much information on the internet is wrong, and is hurting our users. And information about EOL releases is wrong for the vast majority of our users, and it will hurt them.

It's our job (as a community as a whole) to try and keep the information up-to-date.

Oh, and last thing: if I can't get security updates for things, why am I using this? EOLed releases don't get security updates.

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    Using my own lightning talk against me, touché sir, touché! – Jorge Castro Dec 27 '12 at 20:34
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    I would also add that finding people providing support for EOL releases is almost impossible, so questions would remain unanswered for ages (like others have already pointed out in their comments). – Andrea Corbellini Dec 27 '12 at 21:05
  • I agree, having useful and relevant questions and answers is important, not just good questions and answers. – Richard Feb 12 '14 at 22:53

I think it is better to keep such questions if they meet our quality standards. But we should include a warning message

This version is no longer supported; you have to upgrade your Ubuntu to get critical security updates

One of the main issues is lack of support from the community, because most of them use supported versions of Ubuntu, but this is not a justification to close questions as off topic.

The first rule of any IT manager working in the field is "If it works - don't touch it". Suppose I have server running on Hardy and it works, and I know all security flaws found since are not affecting me. Then I would not upgrade it only because Ubuntu creators think I should. I would want to stick to it until it breaks.

The useless question on EOL versions is "How to install modern version of X on Ubuntu Y" Those questions all have the same answers, and should be redirected to them.

However, questions on administration and tuning of such servers are still useful to all, who find themselves with some old Ubuntu. Sometimes people must do some changes but have no time or authority to reinstall the whole server.

And finally, the real world is still using things like proprietary application with GUI based on Gtk 1.1 and gcc+glibc of that time. What will you tell these people - "Throw away your investments because we have new version of Ubuntu" ?

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    I disagree, an IT manager in a company should be aware of (or have someone else doing this for her/him) difficult, not any more maintained or EOLed setups in production and should care that there is a replacement in pre-live that can be brought into production as soon as breakage happens, because which ever shut in idiot who is lightly taking this risk will try get away with it by making it look like it was my fault and will hurt me and my team by grinding our nerves for every second that breakage lasts. But this topic is not about enterprise support and milking money from stubborn idiots. – LiveWireBT Sep 9 '14 at 10:05

Simply yes. We should allow the question. The answer might well be that the solution is too hard for the average user (recompile python 3 then...) or not possible, and that answer may well help other users.

Many people here are here to be helpful, and I guess it rankles when they see that they can't help, at least not as they would wish, but dropping the question is less helpful.

I'm going to revive this horse as I have hit his carcass today.

Closing such a question as Off-Topic is rude and it's not helpful at all to a new user. It took a while for me to found in the FAQ that EOL versions are off-topic, it's likely that a new user is not going to understand it.

I believe that it's better to make a canonical answer (we already have a good one) and close all this questions as duplicates. I know it's more work, I know that we already have too many canonical answer to easily remember them, but by doing it this way you are helping not only the asker (who hopefully will be persuaded to upgrade) but other people finding the question through Google.

The point of this site, at least for me, is not to have a great answers ratio but to be helpful and useful. Closing this questions as off-topic is not getting us closer at all to this point not does it help to make users upgrade: we don't explain users why and how they should upgrade, we just give then a short and not encouraging "don't ask this".

  • Have you considered the "reopen" path? First have it marked as duplicate of that "good one" and if the question still applies after upgrading (including the needed edits to the question), the user can get his question reopened. – gertvdijk Feb 8 '13 at 10:57
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    We have to be careful with the context of that "good one" - if the question is about "how to install a general piece of software" then yes - lets dupe it. If the question is "how to install the latest version of software" - that is not a good dupe - nor is the "upgrade" part of the Q - since the version may not apply until you have upgraded several times. Thus "off-topic" is appropriate in the latter circumstance. – fossfreedom Feb 8 '13 at 11:05
  • @fossfreedom: Then what we need is a better canonical question. – Javier Rivera Feb 8 '13 at 11:54
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    The pro-forma comment does explain why users should upgrade: New questions about end-of-life Ubuntu releases are considered off-topic as per the FAQ. These old releases are unsupported and their use is not recommended. They don't even get updates for newly discovered security vulnerabilities, which makes using them risky. If you install or upgrade to a supported release and this question still applies, please flag and/or comment to request it be reopened. – Eliah Kagan Feb 11 '13 at 17:28
  • Nice, but the questions that I saw had no pro-forma comment at all. They were just closed. Anyway, it seems like this is not a popular idea (only 1 upvote), so let's drop it. – Javier Rivera Feb 13 '13 at 8:44

It will help every person that encounters the same issue on the same version of the OS. You do not always chose what OS is available for work, on someone else computer, or embedded environment, or for tech support.

You can tell people that updating is advised, not change how the world works in a snap of fingers, by deleting legit questions imo.

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