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.
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."
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.