Kubuntu LTS

Scott James Remnant scott at ubuntu.com
Mon Dec 24 10:43:59 GMT 2007

Hi Luka,

The Technical Board was not formally involved[0] in the decision whether
or not to release Kubuntu 8.04 as an LTS.  "LTS" is a commercial support
commitment provided by Canonical Ltd, who shoulder the financial and
administrative burden of doing so; as such, it is entirely their
decision as to whether or not they provide that support for a particular

They make the decision on a purely commercial basis, determined by
factors such as: the stability of the release in question; the
supportability of the release; the commercial interest in the release,

Given that, and since the remainder are not technical in nature or
resolving a technical dispute, the Technical Board cannot answer your

However since I was involved in the decision-making process at Canonical
as part of my job as leader of the Ubuntu Desktop team, I will attempt
to answer your questions as best I can.  The rest of this e-mail shall
not be considered a reply from the Technical Board.

Kubuntu 8.04 comes at a difficult time in the KDE release cycle, it
arrives just after the dawn of a major new release of the platform which
is a very significant new amount of work.  This is a new platform that
is receiving a significant amount of attention, both from its developers
and from its users.

Questions that were asked:

Will KDE 4 be stable enough to support for the term of the release?
  I've not seen anybody who believes that this would be the case; a
long-term supported release would have to be based on the stable KDE 3.5
series.  This gives us the second question:

Will a bug in KDE 3.5 receive upstream attention in March 2011?
  In order for Canonical to make a commercial commitment to their
customers, who have signed contracts and terms of service with them,
they need to be sure that they can honour the terms of their agreements.
  The KDE upstream position appears clear, KDE 4 is the focus of
developer attention; KDE 3.5 will be supported as long as KDE 4 isn't
suitable for support.
  Given the attention being paid to KDE 4, it is difficult to believe
that this will not be the preferred release in three years time.  Thus
it is difficult to guarantee that upstream will still support the
current stable series for the timescale required.

Is the development community able to sufficiently test the new release?
  Again, in order for the commercial commitment to be made, Canonical
has to believe that the development community (which includes its own
staff) are able to provide sufficient testing of both the new release
and upgrades between older releases and the newer one.
  This judgement is both based on the number of active testers for the
previous release according to the ISO test tracker, and the relative
popularity of the available packages/seeds.
  The number of Kubuntu developers testing releases and recording their
results is right now at an all-time low, this makes it difficult to
guarantee sufficient test coverage of installs and most importantly
  Likewise the current download interest is entirely directed towards
KDE 4 packages and CD images.

I hope that provides some insight as to how this decision was made,
expanding on the statements that Jonathan made in his announcement.

As to your questions about the timing, method and discussion for the

The community's input was actually sought on several points, and many
members of the Kubuntu community provided answers and insight that
contributed to the decision.  It is difficult for this decision to be
made by the community because the community's stake in Kubuntu is one of
personal achievement and pride, whereas Canonical's is financial and of
commercial commitments.  Had Canonical simply asked the community
"should Kubuntu 8.04 be an LTS?", the answer would not be based on the
same terms: instead more direct questions were asked such as "how long
will upstream work on KDE 3.5?"

The timing of the decision was simply based on when it was clear from
the KDE release schedule that it was inevitable that KDE 4 would be
released before Kubuntu 8.04.  Since the KDE upstream release schedule
is not in alignment with Ubuntu's own, it is difficult to align such
decisions to it.

As to the unclear reasoning behind the decision, there is insufficient
argument in your e-mail to answer that since you don't discuss where you
feel the communication is unclear.  The announcement states that the
reason is that KDE 4 will be released before Kubuntu 8.04, that it is
the focus of user and developer attention, and that this upheaval is
contrary to Canonical's requirements for an LTS.  This is the reasoning.

Your other questions only have answers in further questions:

Kubuntu will be suitable for an LTS when the KDE packages it contains
are expected to be stable, maintained and supported for three years
afterwards.  (This could be considered LTS requirement zero; 6.06 came
at a perfect time, it is hopeful that KDE 3.5 will at least have some
remaining support and maintenance for the next 18 months while it
remains supported.)

No claim or commitment has been made to how LTS upgrades will work; the
intent is that one LTS is directly upgradable to the next, however this
requires extensive testing on behalf of the development community.

I cannot answer KDE 3.5 to KDE 4.x upgrade questions, those are


[0] notwithstanding some of its members being involved as part of their
    job at Canonical
Scott James Remnant
scott at ubuntu.com
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