Linux Kernel 3.10 picked for long-term support

Linux Kernel 3.10 picked for long-term support

Summary: Looking out for commercial Linux distributors, Greg Kroah-Hartman has announced that the 3.10 Linux Kernel will be supported for two years.


All a Linux distribution really needs is any version of the Linux kernel that fits its needs. Linux businesses, like Canonical, Red Hat, and SUSE need more. When they build commercial Linux distributions they need to know that the base Linux kernel will have long-term support. That's just what Linux Foundation fellow and leading Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman is giving them.

The official long-term support Linux kernel will be 3.10.

Kroah-Hartman announced on his blog that the 3.10 Linux Kernel would be the next long-term kernel.

He said, "Despite the fact that the 3.10-stable kernel releases are not slowing down at all, and there are plenty of pending patches already lined up for the next few releases, I figured it was a good time to let everyone know now that I’m picking the 3.10 kernel release as the next long term kernel, so they can start planning things around it if needed."

Why 3.10?

Kroah-Hartman explained, "I'm picking this kernel after spending a lot of time talking about kernel releases, and product releases and development schedules from a large range of companies and development groups. I couldn’t please everyone, but I think that the 3.10 kernel fits the largest common set of groups that rely on the long term kernel releases."

This idea of formally anointing an "official" Linux kernel has been around for years, but it only really got going in 2011. It was then that Kroah-Hartman, who'd been supporting Linux 2.6.16 as a de facto long term kernel, said that since that had worked out well, "a cabal of developers got together at a few different Linux conferences and determined that based on their future distro release cycles, we could all aim for standardizing on the 2.6.32 kernel, saving us all time and energy in the long run."

This worked out well, and all of the major 'enterprise and "stable" distro releases became based on the 2.6.32 kernel. Kroah-Hartman then found that it wasn't only the big Linux distributions' developers that craved long-term stability. Many other Linux developers, especially those in the embedded consumer-device space, wanted such a Linux kernel too.

So, Kroah-Hartman publicly proposed that a new long-term kernel be picked every year and that it be supported for two years. After some discussion on Google+ and the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML), the idea was refined and gained popular support in the development community.

Now, two years later, the plan has come to fruition. For the next few years, enterprise and commercial Linux distributions will be based on the 3.10 Linux kernel.

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Topics: Linux, Open Source, Software Development

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  • Linux Kernel 3.10, shouldn't that be a gorilla instead of a penguin?

    As the official name for the Linux Kernel 3.10 is Unicycling Gorilla:

    Gorilla, however, is a very appropriate name for the Linux kernel 3.10:

    o The gorilla is a primate and primates rock
    o The gorilla is the largest of primates and the Linux kernel is even more bloated, huge and scary today than it was in 2009 when Linus Torvalds himself used this phrase to describe the Linux kernel
    o The largest primate is a good metaphor for the Linux kernel's importance today on mobile devices, servers, embedded devices, supercomputers and, yes, the GNU/Linux desktop (ask Google if the GNU/Linux desktop is important, Goobuntu anyone?)

    Finally, for doubters, further evidence that primates rock can be found at Greg Kroah-Hartman's blog which is named "Linux Kernel Monkey Log".
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • P.S. Forgot to add that the 2.6.32 kernel runs on my Debian Squeeze desktop

      Very stable. Thanks for the support.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Two years is long term support?

    That doesn't sound like long term support to me.
  • Could it be, Linux is finally growing up?

    OK, so two years isn't very long, but in the real world, it's a start. I know of people happily using XP today, so the life of a single installation can be well over a decade. Linux developers never seemed to understand that, being much more interested in developing new stuff instead of supporting and fixing the old stuff.

    Still only two years, but it is a start.

    If a business has a full SDLC in place, understanding that their OS will be supported for at least two years from some date will help them decide if that OS is appropriate.

    You can decide if two years is long enough
    • It's not new

      The Linux kernel 2.6.32, mentioned in the article, was released in December, 2009, and is still receiving support:
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • The Linux kernel 2.6.32 is "in "extended-longterm" maintenance,

        with no set release schedule from now on." More here:

        P.S. This is the kernel version used by Debian old stable (currently, Squeeze).
        Rabid Howler Monkey
        • But is the support sufficient?

          for a business, erratic support is perceived to cost much more than a free OS saves.

          If you compare erratic support to the Den of Iniquity (Microsoft), you find that the Den has set schedules, announces formal end of life and provides other information at EOL.

          Linux doesn't seem to have a grasp on that one. Unless OEM's like Red Hat become heavy kernel developers, kernel support effectively ends when regular support ends.

          Seems to be a big negative for the Linux side.
          • Cynical99: "Unless OEM's like Red Hat become heavy kernel developers"

            "kernel support effectively ends when regular support ends."

            With GNU/Linux, one selects a distro based on one's requirements. Enterprises, as you well know, require long-term support. Thus, the distros of choice (and support life-cycles) for enterprises are:

            o Red Hat Enterprise Linux (10 years)
            o Scientific Linux (10 years) *
            o CentOS (7 years) *
            o Oracle Enterprise Linux (10 years) *
            o SUSE Linux Enterprise (7 years)
            o Ubuntu LTS (5 years) **
            o Debian (3 years)

            * Red Hat Enterprise Linux derivative
            ** Debian derivative

            All of the so-called enterprise Linux distros usually pick a Linux kernel version with "long-term" support from the Linux kernel devs to start with. Some back-port changes from newer kernels, others provide newer kernels and some do both during the support life-cycle duration.

            Linux enthusiasts and others have a much wider selection of distros available, especially if they want bleeding edge distros like Fedora or Ubuntu non-LTS releases or rolling release distros such as Arch Linux or Mint Debian edition.

            P.S. Red Hat and SUSE aren't OEMs. Oracle is, though.
            Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Long-term support isn't always as important for Linux...

      ... since the updates typically are both free and easy to install with no more than a few clicks and a reboot. Very different from having to go and buy an install CD in a store and boot from it to install the OS upgrade!
    • Hardware Support is better than Windows

      >Linux developers never seemed to understand that, being much more interested in
      >developing new stuff instead of supporting and fixing the old stuff.

      Linux has far more old hardware support than Windows. There was a recent story in which thanks to the efforts of one person 15-year-old plus Rage graphics cards will still be supported. CD changers... graphics chips AMD and NVIDIA no longer support... the 1.5 year old printers HP stopped supporting when Win7 came out.... Linux hardware support is great. Sometimes you need to do a bit of extra research to be sure something like a just-released laptop is fully supported (yet), but once you have the new hardware you never, ever have to worry about your hardware ceasing to be supported just to force you to upgrade (as the symbiotic relationship between Windows and hardware vendors works)... at least for 15 years. In fact, it was news recently that Linux finally discontinued support for 80386 chips! With each Windows upgrade I made some hardware was no longer supported or some software no longer worked (CD changer, sound card, Win98 image editing software that didn't work on XP, printer driver not available for new OS, graphics card no longer supported by ATI/AMD). I've gone through five Linux distro upgrades now and zero issues with existing hardware losing support.

      I much prefer the "shop wisely; upgrade without fear" approach these last few years than the "certain everything works out of the box; need to choose between upgrading OS and buying new hardware later" model I'd been under since Windows 3.1.
      • I don't need support on old stuff

        I need it on new stuff. Linux is usually behind on drivers for the newest add-ons and such. It takes time to catch up when the vendors don't release Linux drivers at initial release.
  • Does long-term mean 2 years?

    I just looked at but didn't find any reference to the precise number of years they intend to support the kernel.
  • Very nice, its about time!

    They really needed to have another LTS new kernel. I have been running other non supported kernels for a long time on my desktop Linux because I customize them and I cba. But the thing is that not all the drivers that come out work for those kernels so it will be nice to have a LTS 3.10 especially as my new hardware requires it. Its a great move.