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There recently was talks on Meta about the support period of LTS and non-LTS releases on this site. In addition, I saw the mention of Ubuntu Core in a comment, and this got me wondering what the support period for Ubuntu Core actually is, and if it follows the support period for Ubuntu LTS.

Canonical states this on the Ubuntu Core page:

Ubuntu Core gets 10 years of Canonical maintenance. Your smallest devices are now as secure as your servers. No other embedded Linux comes close.

Also, as far as I understand, Ubuntu Core 16 is still the default "core" release for snaps. This is supported by the fact that Core 16 (just named "core" in snap) has update cycle and versioning that exactly follows the snapd version.

Output of snap info snapd:

<...>
type:         snapd
snap-id:      PMrrV4ml8uWuEUDBT8dSGnKUYbevVhc4
tracking:     latest/stable
refresh-date: 9 days ago, at 23:27 CEST
channels:
  latest/stable:    2.51.4                  2021-08-25 (12883) 33MB -
  latest/candidate: 2.51.7                  2021-08-31 (13170) 33MB -
  latest/beta:      2.51.7                  2021-08-27 (13170) 33MB -
  latest/edge:      2.51.7+git1522.gc980bde 2021-08-31 (13216) 42MB -
installed:          2.51.4                             (12883) 33MB snapd

Output of snap info core:

<...>
type:         core
snap-id:      99T7MUlRhtI3U0QFgl5mXXESAiSwt776
tracking:     latest/stable
refresh-date: 9 days ago, at 23:27 CEST
channels:
  latest/stable:    16-2.51.4                  2021-08-25 (11606) 104MB -
  latest/candidate: 16-2.51.7                  2021-08-31 (11743) 104MB -
  latest/beta:      16-2.51.7                  2021-08-27 (11743) 104MB -
  latest/edge:      16-2.51.7+git3168.3a0f4248 2021-09-01 (11771) 112MB -
installed:          16-2.51.4                             (11606) 104MB core

Another element in the mix is that Ubuntu Core isn't released completely in parallel with the LTS releases. For instance, Ubuntu Core 20 was released in January 2021, i.e. 9 months after the first release of Ubuntu 20.04.

So do Ubuntu Core releases follow the same 5-year support period as LTS releases, or is it indeed 10 years, per the Canonical security maintainance period?

This also ties into the recent topic of How long do we support Ubuntu flavors?, as well as my suggestion to rephrase the Help Center explanation.

For an answer to be considered satisfactory, the following elements should be addressed:

  • The relation between Ubuntu LTS and Core releases, including the difference in release times
  • The "special" status of Ubuntu Core 16 (named core in snap) as the base that follows snapd versioning
  • Reflections on how this should affect support time on Ask Ubuntu
  • Reference to official sources and/or Ubuntu team members (as opposed to speculation)
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  • 3
    Looks like the Help Center needs to be edited
    – Zanna
    Sep 4, 2021 at 11:35
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    @C.S.Cameron I'm not sure it's that simple. For instance, Core 20 wasn't even released the same time as 20.04 - Core 20 was released in februray 2021. Sep 5, 2021 at 7:56
  • 4
    I'm playing with Core 18 now but not getting very far. It says "Ubuntu Core 16 on 192.168.1.12"? I'm still trying to figure where to get keys and passwords and stuff so I can SSH? Soon I will have to break down and read the instructions. Sep 5, 2021 at 9:39
  • 1
    Searching Ask Ubuntu for "Core 16" I see 95 results. None of the questions have been closed as OFF-TOPIC due to End of Standard Support or End of Life Release, or for not being an official Ubuntu flavor. Precedence therefore is that Ubuntu core is indeed on topic on ask Ubuntu for the full 10 years promised by Canonical. Sep 21, 2021 at 10:58
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    There are some who say Ubuntu core is not a flavour of Ubuntu and thus off topic on AU. I suggest that Core is a trimmed down version of Ubuntu itself and thus on-topic. I think the 95 accepted posts are precedence for this. As a trimmed down version it would follow the posted release dates per: ubuntu.com/about/release-cycle. Canonical promises 10 years of security update commitment for Core. (I think they know better than promising ten years of community support, as they have no control of this). There is not yet hard precedence for shutting down a Core question due to EoSS. Sep 22, 2021 at 1:53

2 Answers 2

3

They do provide security updates for up to 10 years.

It is mentioned in the Ubuntu Core Datasheet that:

Canonical releases bug fixes and security updates against emerging CVE threats every 3 weeks for up to 10 years. Kernel patches applied with minimal downtime.

The details of how these updates will be given are also mentioned in the above-linked datasheet.

2

After careful consideration, I must agree with Mohsin's answer. I can't comprehend the datasheet in any other way than Canonical's official support period for Ubuntu Core is 10 years.

This is also supported by the following additional observations:

  • Ubuntu Core follows a different release schedule than traditional Ubuntu Releases. For instance, Ubuntu Core 20 was released on January 2021. So it's clear that the release schedules are not 1:1 comparable to the corresponding LTS release.
  • The Ubuntu Core 16 snap (just called core) still receives updates, even after support for 16.04 LTS has stopped. This is evident from the snap store itself, as well as from the Github page. As of March 30, 2022, the release is 16-2.54.4, with the candidate being 16-2.55.2.
  • Since there is sufficient evidence to prove that the Core releases do not strictly follow LTS releases, and that Core 16 is still being supported (but "normal" 16.04 support has stopped), this would to me clearly imply that Ubuntu Core is on-topic on Ask Ubuntu for a period of 10 years (or as long as a particular core release still receives official updates).

If there are any other views, I'd like to get similar arguments to why the above is not the case.

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