Long Term Support
The development of free/libre software moves at a relentless, some might say reckless, pace. Some distros are known for being “rolling releases” with no notable pause in development. Some distros are known for short release cycles, as short as six months.
Those options are not palatable for many people who want to use a computer only as a tool and as a means to an end. Many people prefer a fixed release cycle, where software is updated and patched only for security and major bug reasons. With a fixed release cycle users are not exposed to the continual breakage caused by rapid release.
Some distro maintainers offer their fixed release cycle distros with something called long term support (LTS). The idea is software is patched for security and major bug reasons within the period covered by that support cycle. The support cycle is longer than normal. The people behind LTS releases like to make a big deal about that, especially when there is a money trail involved. After all, many people prefer to update their systems as little as possible.
The founding developer behind Slackware does not officially offer anything called a LTS cycle. Yet for the past two decades he has provided long term support without fanfare. Here is the life cycle of previous Slackware releases during that period:
- 15.0: released 2022-02-22; current active release
- 14.2: released 2016-06-30; still supported after 6 years
- 14.1: released 2013-11-04; still supported after 9 years
- 14.0: released 2012-09-26; still supported after 10 years
- 13.37: released 2011-04-27; support ended 2018-07-05, 7 years
- 13.1: released 2010-05-24; support ended 2018-07-05, 8 years
- 13.0: released 2009-08-26; support ended 2018-07-05, 9 years
- 12.2: released 2008-12-10; supported ended 2013-12-09, 5 years
- 12.1: released 2008-05-02; support ended 2013-12-09, 5.5 years
- 12.0: released 2007-07-01; support ended 2012-08-01, 5 years
- 11.0: released 2006-10-02; support ended 2012-08-01, 6 years
- 10.1: released 2005-09-14; support ended 2012-08-01, 7 years
- 10.0: released 2004-06-23; support ended 2012-08-01, 8 years
- 9.1: released 2003-09-26; support ended 2012-08-01, 9 years
- 9.0: released 2003-03-19; support ended 2012-08-01, 9+ years
- 8.1: released 2002-06-18; support ended 2012-08-01, 10+ years
The average support cycle is 7.5 years. No release has been supported less than 5 years. For previous releases there was no official end of support announcement or support cycle.
Slackware requires some computer skills and sweat equity to configure and maintain, but once configured the system is more or less worry free for many years. No disruptive updates. Not broke don’t fix.