Crash course on commercial and free Ubuntu support

I am putting together information that will be included in the official Ubuntu Certified Professional training material, and I thought it would be interesting to make my initial draft available here. Most of this information is already public, while some of it is derived from existing references, such as the Ubuntu releases lifecycles. I like to call this a crash course about support options available for Ubuntu, so if anyone reading this feels there are things that are badly missing, just comment and I’ll gladly revise it – or dig it.

Commercial Support

Canonical Global Support Services are deployed to enable 24×7 support infrastructure. Support requests are handled through telephone and the web. Canonical offers three types of production support: Desktop, Server and Thin Client/Cluster Support.

Canonical Ltd. provides various levels of commercial support for packages in the “main” component, including the Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Edubuntu releases. Support can also be obtained from a growing network of companies and partners that are listed in the Canonical Marketplace at :

Free community support

A range of free support options are also available from the Ubuntu Community, including forums, IRC channels and mailing lists. The Ubuntu Local Community Teams provide multi-language community support. For more details please refer to

Support lifecycles for Ubuntu releases

Ubuntu desktop and server releases are issued every six months, providing versions including feature and security updates of all applications. Each Ubuntu release is supported and includes free security updates for at least 18 months on the desktop and server.

With the Long Term Support (LTS) version the support lifecycle is extended to three years on the desktop, and five years on the server. Ubuntu versioning is based on year and month of a specific release, ie, 7.04 is for the April 2007 release.

Note: Ubuntu 6.06 LTS is considered to be the same as Ubuntu 6.06.1 LTS when updated.

Detailed release announcements are posted on the ubuntu-announce mailing list at

Updates policy and stable release updates

Once an Ubuntu release has been completed and published, updates for it are only released under certain circumstances, and must follow a special procedure. Most notably, security updates are backported and feature updates are not available until the next stable release.

Stable release updates (SRU) are automatically recommended to a very large number of users, and so it is critically important to treat them with great caution. Therefore, when updates are proposed, they must be accompanied by a strong rationale and present a low risk of regressions. This includes any community-proposed updates or bugs escalated from commercial support customers.

Free security updates are included for at least 18 months on the desktop and server. With the Long Term Support (LTS) version you get three years support on the desktop, and five years on the server. There is no extra fee for the LTS version, all Ubuntu editions are available on the same free terms. Upgrades to new versions of Ubuntu are also free of charge.

Ubuntu components

The Ubuntu software repository contains thousands of software packages organized into five components, on the basis of the level of support we can offer them, and whether or not they comply with our Free Software Philosophy. The components are called « main », « restricted », « universe », « multiverse » and commercial.

The standard Ubuntu installation is a subset of software available from the main and restricted components. You can install additional software using installation software such as Synaptic Package Manager or Aptitude. Other components are added by editing the /etc/apt/sources.list file. See « man sources.list » for more information on editing the sources.list file.

Supported packages

There are several CD and DVD versions of Ubuntu available. All versions are basically a selection of specific packages put together on the same media for convenience. Packages that are included are organized by groups called Seeds. There are seven primary seeds:

  1. Minimal
  2. Boot
  3. Standard
  4. Desktop
  5. Ship
  6. Live
  7. and Supported

The minimal, boot, standard, desktop, and either ship or live seeds go onto our CDs and the “Supported” packages are available from the FTP site. “Supported” in this context means any needed packages that other packages depend on but can’t fit on the CD/DVD.. Seeding a package pulls all of its dependencies into the appropriate part of the archive and ensures everything needed to build that package is at least placed in “Supported”.

You can view the current seeds and the current full list of packages for them at:


2 réflexions sur « Crash course on commercial and free Ubuntu support »

  1. The commercial component is not part of the Ubuntu project. It is used by Canonical to provide software for Ubuntu.

    Furthermore there is an application to enable additional components and repositories. You can find it at System > Administration > Software Sources. With Feisty the dialog will also be available in Kubuntu too.

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