So, because of Darren Cook's answer to the EOL reminder I made back in May, and how people apparently don't like the status quo, I'm dredging this whole discussion back up. Because of Darren. So blame him.

This was Darren's answer on the EOL notice thread:

Might I suggest an alternative approach, given that unsupported-by-Canonical versions of Ubuntu keep running fine, and that the Ubuntu desktop upgrade route past 10.04 is unpopular with a significant number of users:

Instead of flagging and closing questions about EOL-ed as off-topic, why don't you just leave them! People who want to answer can answer. People who no longer run 10.04 cannot answer them.

Just make sure they are correctly flagged as "10.04" or whatever, so that people no longer running 10.04 can happily ignore them.

This is how a volunteer Q&A community should work, by not getting in the way of the organization of human knowledge with arbitrary rules.

This approach keeps everyone happy. In worst case the guy asking a 10.04 question gets no replies because no-one still runs the OS. In best, someone else running 10.04 gives just the answer he was looking for, and the net knowledge in the universe has increased.

The status quo is as it is because we abide by Canonical's support timetables for any given release. The Ubuntu IRC channels (and indirectly, the official flavors' channels) all follow that policy, and to some extent the other Ubuntu support mediums follow the policy of not providing support for any (new) EOL-release questions.

Basically, do we need to change, keep the status quo, or do we need to consider adopting Darren's suggestions?

  • At the end of a week, the answer with the most votes will get "Accepted", if the mods and everyone else don't have any issues with that.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 2:45
  • wiki.ubuntu.com/Releases
    – don.joey
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 9:33

3 Answers 3


"Running fine" is hard to swallow given everybody who asks a question has a problem.

We should close EOL questions because as a community of both Ubuntu users and internet denizens, we should want people to stop using unsupported software.

Many years ago I... Well let's just say I had more than a passing interest in computer security. Something that I saw again and again and again is that software running on the internet without updates is software that gets hacked and cracked wide open.

We should care because it's that computer that goes on to infect another dozen unpatched computers, send out spam and DDOS networks you care about.

Lucid (10.04) is off-topic on the desktop because its software is now lagging behind. Firefox is seven months old and that means known security flaws that are being exploited in the wild. Desktop 10.04 users are a liability to the internet. We all have a personal interest in them upgrading.

I don't think it's unreasonable cost that people have to use supported software to get support and by enforcing that through closing questions, we show users that we won't help them run dangerous software.

  • 7
    Thanks for the feedback Oli. I still feel this is a Q&A site. Its purpose is to allow volunteers to answer other people's questions. All I am saying is people should be allowed to ask questions about the version of Ubuntu they are using, and people who have answers to those questions should be allowed to give them. Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 9:32
  • 12
    That sentiment would have us supporting 90% of Ubuntu and Debian spin-offs. I do agree that it's nice to be helpful but it's more than just a scope issue here. It's dangerous to run outdated software and by extension it's dangerous to help somebody to remain on outdated software. It's something we should be militantly protective against.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 10:25

To be honest the whole EOL closure thing seems to be something of a community foot gun. Having a scope that deliberately and mechanically (not organically) shifts every six months is bound to create confusion, as is having a scope that's 100% different for new posts and existing posts.

The fact that repeated reminders on how to apply the rule need to be posted here is evidence of that, and to be honest, I doubt they will be particularly effective, due to the natural churn of reviewers. By that I mean: I cannot think of another stack exchange site where monitoring the close review queue requires reviewers to check the post-date on a question. That includes Unix and Linux [SE].

But the biggest problem is that this seems to be a decision that's made for totally the wrong reason. Scope decisions should be made based on what is best for managing this community: IE setting which topics are of most relevance to Ubuntu users, and pruning out ones which are nothing but a distraction...

... but the discussion in the most up-voted answer here and comments is not remotely related to what is best for this community. Instead it is an attempt to militantly force the general public (not even just community members) to take action we would like them to take. That is not a good reason to set a scope boundary, we are not here to fix the world, just help ubuntu users.

My other misgiving with this rule is that it's blind to the fact that there are situations where upgrading inline with Canonical's calendar is simply not possible, or massively economically inviable. And it tries to say "we know what's best for you" when in fact we know nothing about an individual's situation. They are rare cases, yet they significant enough.

The general ethos of SE is that we don't try to force people to do anything. We treat people as adults by presenting the information and letting them chose for themselves. Indeed "don't do it" is a legitimate answer, and much less a legitimate close reason.

Without naming any names, I've worked for a few companies where they ran third party proprietary software from vendors that no-longer exist. The OS can't be upgraded because the existing software is incompatible. The proprietary software cannot be abandoned because it performs a business critical function integrated with other systems. Replacing it like for like would be > $5M. After risk assessment, the decision was to simply firewall the server and put a 5 year plan in place to migrate the business away from it over time.

It's really wrong (IMHO) for the Ubuntu community to try to dictate that such decisions should come with militant community consequences. They are very rarely made through laziness as some might suggest.

The one and only legitimate justification I see for this rule would be one of bandwidth. If the concern is genuinely that the community believes it would get far too many unanswerable questions, or too many that only have a solution of "upgrade, you idiot", then that would be a good reason for the scope decision.

  • 1
    Eh, if some random company decides to make some decision for "business" reasons, they can damn well pay for it. Expecting the community to support their business is just pure entitlement.
    – muru
    Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 8:14
  • @muru I'm not really saying that the company can expect anything,. But that's quite separate from community leaders demanding that we don't, claiming eroniously that everybody can just upgrade. Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 8:42
  • If they can't upgrade, that's their problem. I don't see why the community should be supporting them in that.
    – muru
    Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 8:44
  • @muru indeed if anybody has any problem they have no right to expect anybody else to sort it for them... this post isn't about what a company can expect, it's about the (somewhat extreme) measure of banning the community from helping. The justification given seems misguided to my eye, whether or not I may ultimately agree with the decision. Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 8:47
  • Those who want to help some business doing crappy things for business reasons are more than welcome to do so elsewhere. I don't see why this site should be place for that. There are other places, let them go there.
    – muru
    Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 8:49
  • @muru As you well know, u&l would take such questions. So yes there are other places, I only claim the decision here is being made for the wrong reasons. Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 8:50
  • I disagree. SE in general has long had a principle of challenging people doing stupid things (cf. glass bottles and shoes). So having a decision made for bettering some situation in general seems to me to be a perfectly fine thing to do considering SE ethos.
    – muru
    Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 8:55
  • @muru Examples please. The general ethos I see coming through is that we don't try to force anyone's hand, we treat people as adults and present the risks. That's different from making topics taboo. I don't see EOL closure on any other software based SE site, so I don't think saying it's in keeping with SE holds water. Maybe you know sites I don't. Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 8:56
  • meta.stackexchange.com/questions/8891/…. It's rather common to see a number of downvotes on questions that ask about doing something stupid or dangerous and ignoring risks, sometimes getting closed as well because it's not clear why anybody would do that. I don't see how that's any different from this - if anything, since the risks associated with EOL releases are the same, and so there is no point to presenting that again and again as an answer to EOL questions, making a standard reason and closing them is better than that.
    – muru
    Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 9:03
  • @muru are you aware that you linked a meta post agreeing with my point... answer with "don't do" don't close. Down votes are not Close votes and that's a very long established principle. The difference here is that someone cannot offer an explanation of why they can't upgrade in the question, it just gets closed. Such explanations usually guard against down votes. Read "cannot" as "cannot" not "don't know how". Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 9:23
  • 1
    I did not say they are. I said I see such questions often get a number of both, even in the case where they do give reasons, because what those reasons boil down to often and usually is "because somebody else said so" (could be a boss, prof, some other third party, whatever). I'm fine with the close reason being there even for cases where good reasons exist because we are more than happy to help with them with upgrading - it's the one exception in the close reason. If they can't just yet, then let them wait until they can.
    – muru
    Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 9:45
  • 1
    And when the answer for something is the same again and again, we do close, usually as a duplicate, but since in this case closing as a dupe would just be disputed by the OP because they'd say "that's not what I'm asking", so having a custom close reason seems just fine for me. In fact, closing as a dupe of a "don't do this"-type of question has been tried on U&L, and it didn't work out.
    – muru
    Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 9:47
  • @muru BINGO. Please write that up as an answer here because it a a great reason centred on protecting this community, rather than the other one centred on treating others like little children! Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 10:00

AskUbuntu is not an official arm of Canonical, and is not the official support forum for Ubuntu, though it seems to function as such recently. We remain under the auspices of Stackexchange which continues as a very strong question and answer site.

Whether Canonical considers an Ubuntu release as EOL in as little time as 9 months is immaterial. We should continue to be open as a question and answer site for users of Ubuntu. We could gently suggest upgrading to users of releases that are beyond EOL to benefit from security updates, however a valid question is still valid regardless of whether Canonical considers the release as EOL or not.

New questions regarding Ubuntu releases that have reached EOL should remain welcome on this site.

  • 6
    No they shouldn't. Such sentiment is going to result in us supporting all the Ubuntu versions that no longer get new software or security updates, and that alone is bad practice. As @Oli very clearly stated in his answer AND his comments on the answer he put here, "It's dangerous to run outdated software and by extension it's dangerous to help somebody to remain on outdated software. It's something we should be militantly protective against."
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 18:22
  • 1
    "regardless of whether Canonical considers the release as EOL" - Canonical by dropping support DEFINES what is EOL and what is not. Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 5:25

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