7forever, an operating system that will never expire

Following a wonderful development history, Linux has become a stable and highly useful operating system. Mature, extensively tested Linux distributions, such as Debian 7 wheezy, Ubuntu 14.04, RedHat/CentOS/Scientific Linux 7, achieve essentially 100% of what so many of us need from an OS.

New and possibly exciting developments are contemplated. These include the systemd as system control mechanism, new graphical systems such as Wayland and Mir, desktops such as Unity 8, etc. Some reinvent the usual way in which things are done in the system.

However, the current, classical, configuration involving system V init, X Window, the existing desktops, the current Linux kernel are a worthy and stable combination that is well mastered by so many users, administrators and programmers.

This essay is the expression of my personal wish, as a Linux user, for one current distribution to be declared ``classical'' or ``definitive'' and be supported forever.

Official support for the current versions expires in 2019 for Ubuntu 14.04LTS, possibly 2016 for Debian 7 Wheezy (not yet announced), 2027 for RedHat 7.

The 13 year life cycle for RedHat 7 is a testimony to the need to have a stable configuration for the operating system in a business setting, rather than play with the latest innovations. This need arises from cost optimization, as change involves costs and risks.

However, the idea of a constant duration of the life cycle for a maturing operating system is not that logical. The more mature a product, the longer its life cycle should be.

Maturity implies less need to upgrade.

Declaring one mature version as having an endless life cycle would correct this situation dramatically.

A related issue is documentation. With every new release, previous documentation is automatically suspected of being obsolete. For many issues, it may not be so, but how can one tell? Here I am not only referring to the official documentation (such as man pages) but also to books, educational and introductory material.

This makes writing an application manual on, for example, how to use 'Linux' in medical statistics, quite inefficient as it would only be strictly valid for one version of one distribution.

Declaring one version ``classic'' or ``forever'' would make it worthwhile to write far more extensive documentation for it, making it accessible and useful for more people.

An operating system supported forever would be a first in the history of computing. Probably, no single company can achieve that, but a broad community of individuals and companies might.

Debian 7/Ubuntu 14.04 would be a good choice for this `classic' designation as fundamental things such as init and X Window seem to start being reinvented in future versions.

If my wish is reasonable, then others must be feeling the same, and they might be manifesting in some way. When I learn of any such development, I will mention it here:

  1. Debian long term support

(Disclosure: my beard is currently 25% white :)

Oct 24, 2014.