When it comes to production-grade deployments of operating systems on servers, some server systems will stay in production longer than others. While consumers refresh hardware and software rapidly, that is typically not always the case — for many different reasons — in enterprise deployments.
To that end, Canonical is now offering an Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) option that goes beyond the five years of support the Ubuntu Long Term Support (LTS) release cycle provides. Ubuntu LTS releases typically provide five years of support on both the desktop and server component, and a new LTS release debuts every other year.
The Ubuntu 12.04 LTS was first released back in April 2012 and was the first LTS to include five years of support on both the desktop and the server. It was also the first to benefit from the new ESM approach. The Ubuntu 12.04 LTS is currently scheduled to become End of Life (EOL) software on April 28, 2017.
While Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and its five years of support were freely available, getting the ESM support option is only available to Canonical's paying customers as part of the Ubuntu Advantage program.
The ESM option for Ubuntu 12.04 as part of Ubuntu Advantage currently starts at a list price of $750 per year. With the ESM option, Canonical will provide organizations with security fixes for the kernel as well as essential userspace packages.
"All Ubuntu 12.04 LTS users are encouraged to upgrade to Ubuntu 14.04 LTS or Ubuntu 16.04 LTS," Canonical stated. "But for those who cannot upgrade immediately, Ubuntu 12.04 ESM updates will help ensure the on-going security and integrity of Ubuntu 12.04 systems."
Having support for longer than five years for a Linux server operating system is not a new thing. Rival Linux distribution Red Hat provides up to 10 years of support. Until 2012, Red Hat has only offered seven years of standard support, with an additional three years available via an Extended Lifecycle support program.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.