How Long is my Ubuntu Support Going to Last?

Ubuntu versions, and official flavors, have different lengths of time that they’re supported. Today, we’ll learn how to tell how much longer you have Ubuntu support and what you can do about it.

Every two years, Ubuntu releases a LTS version. That means “Long Term Support” and the support length for that is usually 3 years, and then it enters ESM, which means Extended Security Maintenance. Except when they don’t, and you get 5 years of support and 10 years of ESM.

Ubuntu’s official flavors have LTS versions that also come out every two years. Those are supported for three years and then you have no access to the flavor-specific updates unless you update to the newest LTS version of said official flavor.

Every six months, Ubuntu releases an ‘interim’ release. These releases are supported for nine months, which means you have a three month window to upgrade to the next version before the upgrade window closes. These releases also explore new versions of software that will make it into the LTS releases.

LTS releases are always YY.04 releases, but not all YY.04 releases are in fact LTS releases. They’re only LTS releases if the year of release was an even year. So, 18.04 and 20.04 are all LTS releases and there won’t be another LTS release until 22.04 –  which, according to Ubuntu’s versioning format will be in April of 2022.

Confused yet?

I can’t blame you if you are! After all, unless you spend all your time learning about this sort of stuff then you’re not going to remember that. At best, you have the “proper” configuration and you upgrade when your OS tells you to upgrade. If you’re using an interim release and miss that upgrade notice then it can be quite an ordeal to upgrade to a new version.

Let’s figure this out.

How To: Check Ubuntu Support Status

Fortunately, you can check your support status pretty easily. The results may be confusing, but you’ll figure it out.

Like so many articles, let’s crack open the terminal. Just use your keyboard and press CTRL + ALT + T to open your default terminal emulator.

If you’re using 18.04 or older, then you use the following command:

If you’re using 18.10 or newer, then you’d use this:

Your output will look something like this:

Which, as you can see, says I have support until 2025. If I had ESM enabled, that’s software from the Ubuntu Advantage program, then I’d have security updates even longer. As you may recall, that requires Snap apps, and I’ve chosen to disable Snap Applications. So, obviously I won’t be doing that whole ESM thing. 

Not that it matters with the ESM, because I’m using Lubuntu. Where it says 2025, I have to assume “official support” to only last until 2023 – three years of support. Now, you can keep using an official flavor beyond those three years, it’s just that the official flavor parts won’t be getting any additional updates. That’s generally considered a Bad Idea®. But, you can do so, and that’s why the date for ending Ubuntu support is later than it really is.

Anyhow, that should make it more clear. You should find the end date of your OS’s support and keep that in mind. You should make plans to upgrade in a timely manner, because security updates are important to you and the rest of the ‘net.

NOTE: When your computer isn’t upgraded you’re a threat not just to yourself. You risk becoming compromised and becoming part of a botnet, spamming relay node, or worse. So, keep things upgraded. Thanks!

Like always, thanks for reading. You can participate by contributing articles, donating, or sharing the links with others. You can also sign up for the newsletter. I promise, I won’t send you any spam!

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Quickly Reset Ubuntu’s Default Repositories

Is your software not updating? Are you getting repository errors when you try to upgrade? There’s a quick and easy way to reset the Ubuntu repositories to the defaults.

Ubuntu, like all Linux distros, uses repositories for distributing software. This provides a central location for curated, standardized software that’s almost certain to work on your system. These repositories are not just where you install software from, they’re also where you get your software updates.

If you want to see them in action manually, open your terminal and enter the following:

That will show you the system checking the repositories, updating your internal database of software and software versions. There aren’t a whole lot of defaults, so it’s usually a pretty quick process. If you’ve been adding PPAs or other repositories, it could take a while to get through the list.

Of course, if you see errors with that command then this might actually be the article you’re looking for! There are a variety of reasons why one might want to set the system back to the defaults, and it’s actually pretty easy once you know how.

Reset Ubuntu’s Repos

Like many articles and exercises, this one is gonna start with you cracking open your terminal. You should already know how to do that, but you can just use your keyboard and press CTRL + ALT + T.

Once you have that open, just go ahead and run this horribly destructive (I kid, I kid) command.

NOTE: That command could have a horrible outcome if you mess it up. Be sure to double-check it, or use copy/paste. If you screw this up, you can delete files that you really don’t want to delete. You have been warned!

That command will erase all the entries in your ‘sources.list’ file, technically deleting the file itself, which is not necessarily a good thing. Fortunately, it’s a necessary step and only the first step. The next step is also easy – and more or less mandatory.

Just run the following command:

Up should pop a window that looks a whole lot like this:

software properties
Note the lack of any selected repositories. The next step should be obvious.

There you go. You have a blank slate. Select from those four (or five, if you want the source code and have selected at least one other repository) and then click close. When you close it, the system will ask you if you want to update the database and you should agree, of course. You can also change the server from which you download, and most people pick a server that’s geographically close.

That’s it. That’s all it takes to reset your Ubuntu repositories to the defaults. There’s no wizardry involved. You’re simply removing one file and recreating it with the defaults. You could do it all with a file manager if you opened it as root, but the terminal is faster and easier.

Thanks for reading. Feedback is always appreciated. You can sign up for the newsletter and get a notification when new articles are published. A couple of people asked, so I’ve set it up so that you can donate to help fund the site. I’m not going to try to guilt you into donating. The site will remain online and continue to grow even without donations. Still, I had some interest and figured I’d add it as an option. 

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