January 2, 2007 11:22 AM PST

Long-term Fedora Linux support ending

A volunteer effort called Fedora Legacy to provide longer-term support for Red Hat's hobbyist-oriented Linux version is shutting down.

Red Hat offers two versions of Linux, but only Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) comes with long-term support. Fedora is a faster-changing but free version that acts as a proving ground for new technology.

Red Hat offers only short-term, limited support for Fedora, but volunteers on a project called Fedora Legacy tried to maintain the free version longer. The idea was that the free version would be something customers could rely on even after Red Hat's support ended.

It didn't work out.

"The Fedora Legacy project is in the process of shutting down," said project organizers Jesse Keating and David Eisenstein in a Fedora Legacy mailing list posting Friday.

The organizers didn't provide a specific reason for the decision, but a lack of contributions from outside programmers contributed, Keating said in a separate mailing list posting.

"Nobody has responded to our calls for help," Keating said. "There are a good number of consumers, people who will happily consume until the project ends; however they are not willing to actually do any of the work necessary to keep the project alive."

Funding also was a problem.

"If any of these hosting firms or software (companies) would put up some resources to keep Legacy going, we might not have had to shut the doors," Keating said in another message. "Unfortunately, it's all take, take, take and no give."

Another factor was Red Hat's extension of Fedora support from 9 months to 13 months, Keating said in an interview. That duration means that Fedora users won't have to upgrade to every new version to get support, but will be able to use every second version.

Red Hat released Fedora Core 6 in October, following the company's plans of updating the software every few months. Fedora Legacy has begun curtailing its support for earlier versions, the organizers said.

"The current model for supporting maintenance distributions is being re-examined," organizers said. "In the meantime, we are unable to extend support to older Fedora Core releases as we had planned. As of now, Fedora Core 4 and earlier distributions are no longer being maintained."

In the days since Fedora Legacy got started, another free option for Red Hat has cropped up: CentOS, an attempt to reproduce RHEL based on the real project's underlying source code. More recently, Oracle has begun a similar RHEL cloning effort.

Also emerging on the scene in the years since Fedora is Ubuntu, supported by start-up Canonical. Deliberately taking a different approach than the Fedora-RHEL split, the free version of Ubuntu is the same one for which Canonical sells support.

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10 comments

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Why is this news?
No software company (open source or closed source) can continue to support older releases indefinitely.

Maybe I just don;t get it, but I can't figure out why this project started in the first place. Why would you want to keep old versions alive when the newer versions of Fedora are free?

Isn't it the goal of new versions to fix the bugs found in the older versions and to add new functionality at the same time? If so, why stay with old software?

With Windows, there is the cost of aquiring new versions of the OS going forward. But, if Fedora is free - why would you want to live in an old free house, when a newer free house is available?

What am I missing here?
Posted by Jim Hubbard (326 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Agree with not agree
I think we need some stabilization in plataforms, because the core of the industry (out of the tech world) is not nos buy computers and sofware.

We produce things, computers and software are only tools and we can't change the tools avery year. We ask stabilization to let us work and don't have to be always working on IT investments and changes. I think a balance is needed. If Fedora alowed to mantain the versions for more time, then was good.

I still have some pcs in my organizations with Windows 98.... you can call jurassic, but I'm the one who kwows how to mantain my organization profitable in terms of IT technology.
Posted by jasmarques (1 comment )
Link Flag
for good reason
i manage a server myself and i can tell you: the uncertainty of upgrading Linux (package compatibility, driver compatibility, etc.) is a pain. if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I'm an Debian user myself but I can totally understand why some will be disappointed to see Fedora Legacy pass out.
Posted by skoubidou (3 comments )
Link Flag
upgrades are not always clean
There's alot of customization that can go into a personal Linux build. What distribution do I start with? What does it not include that I want? Are there standard apps I compile myself in addition to the Fedora RPM repositories?

In the case of other distributions, long term support was so that you could install that older version and continue to have update packages made available through the repositories. You can play with the latest and greatest stable, you can play with the bleeding edge unstable or you can continue to get updates for the distribution you installed, configed, customized and added too.

The other example, Mandriva (my prefered but not for everyone) released Mandriva2007 Free a few months ago. I knew because Man2006 Free stopped having any updates when I poped in my quick update terminal command. I look in the 2006 repositories, RPM are there but nothing new; I look in the 2007 repository and there are new update packages apearing each week.

repository being the project's archives of installable packages hosted online. (ie. if MS had a freely accessible set of MCSP DVD that you could simply install any new windows app off through Windows Update.)

The newer versions are more stable for older applications that have been around a few versions and are continuing to evolve. The newer version are not more stable with newly added functions and users may not want to be that adventurous though still enough to install Linux in the first place.

Basically, do you want to download and reinstall from scratch a new version of your distribution each year it becomes available (I do, others don't). Would you prefer to install and continue to get updates for a few years before doing another full system rebuild. You could run on an initial install until you upgraded your hardware rather than upgrade your hardware to support the next version of a, unamed, proprietary OS.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
Because Microsoft is not the only one with that duty
If things would be like that, I'd love to know why so many people refuse to upgrade to IE7 or WMP11 for free.
Sometimes it seems like Microsoft is the only comapany in the world that has the duty to support OS's forever. :S
Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
Link Flag
Do not agree.
While I see the point that no company supports its products forever, not offering any support for anything other than the latest releases in a quickly changing product IS a problem.
Windows versions change every two to five years and you get support for n-1 (I think). So you can keep your platform constant for at least four years. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is in a similar situation.
But if Fedora changes every few months and you get support for just that version, that product is effectively only useful for the lab. You can't run an ERP on a platform that needs to be reinstalled, retested and recertified every few months. Same thing for the hundreds or thousands of systems in any medium or large company. Even for small companies upgrading the systems every few months is not possible in most cases as they might be running software that doesn't work on the latest version (and in any case, they have to test everything thoroughly).
Asking everyone to upgrade to the latest and greatest within a few months is tech centric. The real world doesn't work that way.
Posted by herby67 (144 comments )
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