Is Precise Canonical’s XP?

Canonical, makers of the Ubuntu operating system, have just announced that their about to expire “long term support” version is getting a longer “security only” life extension.

Sounds familiar?

Like other vendors who have similarly offered such life extensions in the past, the new support contract will only be offered to corporations who subscribe to the pricey commercial support package (at $250/year per VM and $750/year per physical server).

While I can understand the plight of users – I have worked for a tech company that chose Precise as the deployment platform (annoyingly, at a point in time when Trusty was already available)  and when I inherited the system I tried to upgrade – for two years – but failed to completely move away from Precise for some workloads. A bit due to lack to time and focus, and a lot for lack of support from other vendors – for example, Nvidia didn’t (and still does not – for the needed version, to this day) offer CUDA development tools for Xenial – the latest is Trusty, while the FFMpeg and Gstreamer tools that we also used, weren’t available on Trusty. The result is a sticky mess that cannot be reliably mitigated in order to supplant the stable Prcise based deployment we had.

I’m sure other ISVs had similar problems – the Steam runtime (as just another example) is still based on Ubuntu 12.04 (and unlikely to change in the near future), so I expect game developers need to maintain that tool-chain for Steam Linux deployments.

And that’s why we can’t have the good stuff – as long as people are not motivated to move away by real hard end-of-life dates, we can’t upgrade out of this ancient stack, and like in the XP case – developers who support third-party ISVs will be required to continue offer software that can work on these ancient operating systems and can’t take advantage of new features and capabilities.

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