Canonical announced it's about to make a major change to the release schedule of its Ubuntu Linux distribution. Currently, the company releases a new major version of the OS every six months, each of these releases is supported for 18 months, and every two years there's an LTS release that receives 5 years support.
But now, in an effort to speed up the overall development pace of Ubuntu, Canonical is thinking about ditching the six-month release cycle and adopt a "rolling release" cycle between the LTS releases. The rolling release cycle may be introduced with 14.04 LTS:
Ubuntu 12.10 (thus named because it came out in October 2012) has just arrived, and 13.04 and 13.10 will come in April and October of 2013. But 14.04 in April 2014 could be the last version released after just a six-month development period. 14.04 is also the next "Long Term Support" or LTS edition. Every two years, Ubuntu is sort of frozen in place with a more stable edition that is guaranteed support for five years. If the change Canonical is considering is adopted, every future edition starting with 14.04 will be an LTS, so the next version after 14.04 would be 16.04 in April 2016.
Why bother? Canonical kernel team manager Leann Ogasawara explained in a Google hangout today that this proposal is on the table because Canonical thinks it can deliver both stability and cutting-edge features with rolling releases. For the two years between LTS releases, there would be no new versions but there would be lots of updates.