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LTS vs Normal Release: What’s the Difference?

Ubuntu 8

In the world of software development and system administration, you may have come across the terms “LTS” and “Normal Release”. These terms refer to the types of software releases, especially prevalent in the open-source community. In this article, we will delve into the differences between these two types of releases, their pros and cons, and which one may be the best choice for your needs.

Quick Answer

LTS (Long Term Support) releases are versions of software that are supported and maintained for a longer period of time, providing stability and security. Normal releases, on the other hand, focus on introducing new features and improvements but have a shorter support period. The choice between LTS and Normal Release depends on your needs – if you prioritize stability and infrequent upgrades, go for LTS; if you want the latest features and don’t mind more frequent updates, opt for Normal Release.

Understanding LTS and Normal Release

LTS stands for Long Term Support. As the name suggests, LTS releases are versions of software that are supported and maintained for a longer period of time. This support includes updates for security issues, bug fixes, and sometimes even new features. On the other hand, Normal Releases are supported for a shorter period and are generally used to introduce new features and improvements.

A prime example of this dichotomy is seen in the Ubuntu operating system. Ubuntu releases a new version every six months (in April and October). However, every two years, the April release is designated as an LTS version. LTS releases are supported for five years on both the desktop and the server, while normal releases are only supported for nine months.

LTS: Stability and Longevity

The main advantage of LTS releases is their stability. Because they are supported for a longer period, they are generally more thoroughly tested and bugs are ironed out over time. This makes LTS releases a preferred choice for businesses and enterprises, where system stability and security are paramount.

For instance, if you’re using Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, you can be assured of receiving updates and security patches until April 2023. This longevity also means you don’t need to upgrade your system as frequently, which can be a significant advantage for large-scale deployments or high-availability systems.

Normal Release: Cutting Edge Features

While LTS releases focus on stability and longevity, Normal Releases are all about innovation and introducing new features. These releases are for users who want to stay on the cutting edge of software development. They offer the latest features and improvements but require more frequent updates.

For example, if you’re using Ubuntu 20.10 (a Normal Release), you’ll have access to the latest features, but support will end in July 2021, which means you’ll need to upgrade to the next release to continue receiving updates and support.

Choosing Between LTS and Normal Release

The choice between LTS and Normal Release ultimately depends on your needs. If you prioritize stability, security, and don’t want to upgrade your system frequently, LTS is the way to go. It’s ideal for servers, mass deployments, and mission-critical systems.

On the other hand, if you want to experience the latest features, improvements, and don’t mind upgrading every six to nine months, a Normal Release would be more suitable. It’s ideal for personal use, testing environments, and when you want to stay on the cutting edge of software development.

Conclusion

In conclusion, both LTS and Normal Releases have their unique advantages. LTS offers stability and a long support period, making it ideal for enterprise and server use. Normal Releases, on the other hand, offer the latest features at the cost of a shorter support period. Understanding the differences between these two can help you make an informed decision based on your specific needs and circumstances.

What is the main difference between LTS and Normal Release?

LTS releases are supported for a longer period of time, generally for several years, and focus on stability and security. Normal releases, on the other hand, have a shorter support period and prioritize introducing new features and improvements.

Which type of release is more suitable for businesses and enterprises?

LTS releases are more suitable for businesses and enterprises because they offer stability and long-term support, which is important for mission-critical systems and ensuring system security.

Can I still receive security updates and bug fixes with a Normal Release?

Yes, you can receive security updates and bug fixes with a Normal Release, but the support period is shorter compared to LTS releases. You will need to upgrade to the next release within the support period to continue receiving updates.

How long is the support period for LTS releases in Ubuntu?

LTS releases in Ubuntu are supported for five years on both the desktop and the server. This means you can receive updates and security patches for your LTS version for five years.

Are Normal Releases recommended for high-availability systems?

Normal Releases are not recommended for high-availability systems because they have a shorter support period and require more frequent updates. LTS releases provide better stability and are more suitable for such systems.

Can I upgrade from a Normal Release to an LTS release?

Yes, you can upgrade from a Normal Release to an LTS release. However, it is recommended to perform a fresh installation of the LTS release for better stability and compatibility.

Is it possible to test the latest features without upgrading to a Normal Release?

Yes, you can test the latest features without upgrading to a Normal Release by using virtualization or containerization technologies. This allows you to create a separate testing environment while keeping your main system on an LTS release for stability.

What happens after the support period ends for a Normal Release?

After the support period ends for a Normal Release, you will no longer receive updates, security patches, or official support from the software provider. It is recommended to upgrade to the next release or switch to an LTS release to continue receiving support.

Can I use Normal Releases for personal use?

Yes, Normal Releases are suitable for personal use, especially if you want to experience the latest features and improvements. However, keep in mind that you will need to upgrade to the next release within the support period to continue receiving updates.

Are LTS releases less prone to bugs compared to Normal Releases?

LTS releases are generally less prone to bugs compared to Normal Releases because they undergo a longer testing and stabilization process. However, it does not mean that LTS releases are entirely bug-free. Regular updates and bug fixes are still provided during the support period.

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