Ubuntu 23.10 is released. Let’s take a moment to understand the magic behind how Ubuntu updates work.
Whether you’re a long-time user or just hearing about Ubuntu for the first time, this guide will give you a clear picture of the journey each Ubuntu version takes before it lands on your computer. Let’s get started!
1. Version Numbering: Ubuntu versions are numbered in the format `YY.MM`, where `YY` is the last two digits of the year and `MM` is the month of the release. For example, Ubuntu 20.04 was released in April 2020.
2. Regular Releases: Ubuntu has a regular release cycle, with new versions being released every six months, typically in April and October.
3. LTS (Long Term Support) Releases: Every two years, in April, Canonical releases an LTS version of Ubuntu. LTS releases are supported for five years, as opposed to the usual nine months for regular releases. This makes LTS releases more suitable for enterprises and users who prefer stability over cutting-edge features.
4. Support Duration:
– Regular Releases: Supported for 9 months.
– LTS Releases: Supported for 5 years. There’s also an option to extend support for some LTS releases through Canonical’s “Extended Security Maintenance (ESM)” program, which provides security updates beyond the standard five years.
5. Release Names: Each Ubuntu release also has a codename, made up of an adjective and an animal with the same initial letter. For instance, Ubuntu 20.04 is called “Focal Fossa”.
6. Development Cycle: The period between two releases is six months, during which:
– Month 1: Planning and toolchain setup.
– Months 2-4: Development, during which new features are added.
– Month 5: Feature freeze, where the focus shifts to bug fixing.
– Month 6: Final Beta release, followed by the final release.
7. Daily Builds: Throughout the development cycle, daily builds of the upcoming release are available. These are essentially beta versions and can be unstable.
8. Upgrade Path: Users can easily upgrade from one release to the next using the built-in update manager. However, it’s recommended to backup important data before performing an upgrade.
9. Flavors: In addition to the main Ubuntu release which uses the GNOME desktop environment by default, there are several official “flavors” that use different desktop environments, such as Kubuntu (KDE), Xubuntu (XFCE), Lubuntu (LXQt), and others.
10. Derivatives: Many other Linux distributions are based on Ubuntu, benefiting from its stability and extensive repositories, but offering different experiences or targeting specific use cases.
The journey of each Ubuntu version starts from its development phase and ends at the user’s computer. Here’s a simplified overview of how Ubuntu updates work:
- Planning: The Ubuntu development team, led by Canonical, starts by planning the new version’s features, improvements, and targeted bugs for fixing. They set the objectives and the timeline for the new Ubuntu version.
- Development: Developers start working on the code, making necessary changes. They use version control systems to track modifications, ensuring everything is documented and tested.
- Alpha and Beta Releases: These are the early versions of the new release, intended for testing purposes. Alpha releases are generally for internal testing, while Beta releases are made available to the public for wider testing and feedback.
- Final Release: After thorough testing and bug fixing, the final version is released. It is deemed stable and ready for general use.
- Package Creation and Repository Update: The development team creates update packages for the new version and uploads them to the Ubuntu repositories. These repositories are online servers that store all the available updates for Ubuntu.
- Update Notification: Ubuntu users get a notification about the availability of the new update. They can choose to install the updates immediately or at a later time.
- Update Installation: When a user decides to update, the system downloads and installs the new packages from the repositories. The system might need to restart to complete the installation.
- Post-Installation: Users can now enjoy the new features, improvements, and fixes that come with the updated version.
Understanding the Ubuntu release cycle can help users make informed decisions about which version to install, whether to opt for an LTS or a regular release, and when to expect new features or critical updates.