Ubuntu flings 14.04 LTS users a security lifeline, chats some more about Hyper-V

Extended Security Maintenance is here to save the day again (for a price)

Ubuntu-slinger Canonical has assured us that 14.04 LTS users need not fear the impending end of life of the OS next year, and confirmed it will keep security fixes flowing a little while longer.

Long Term Support gets just a little bit longer

Ubuntu’s “Long Term Support” (LTS) releases of its Debian-based OS have seen five years of love from their maker since the arrival of 12.04 LTS (the previous LTS release didn’t get quite so long to live.) Canonical extended the support in recognition that some users simply don’t want to, or can’t, migrate to newer versions. A problem with which Microsoft is all too familiar.

As 12.04 LTS neared the end of its long life, in April 2017, Ubuntu flung a lifeline to users unable to move to the then shiny new world of 16.04 LTS in the form of at least two more years of fixes for high and critical CVEs. Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) came at a price, of course.

14.04 LTS users looking down the same end-of-life barrel, on 30 April 2019, are to be offered the same lifeline. Without wishing to alarm customers still clinging to the veteran operating system, Ubuntu pointed to some of the notable security issues of the last year – such as Spectre and Meltdown – while trumpeting that lucky 12.04 LTS users saw 120 updates, including fixes for over 60 high and critical vulnerabilities during the ESM period.

As before, ESM is aimed fairly and squarely at enterprises that have purchased Canonical’s commercial support package, Ubuntu Advantage (UA) (although it can be bought by itself if needs be). UA currently costs $150 per desktop per year (and you’ll need at least 50 of the things). A server, which is the most likely candidate for something that admins don’t want to upgrade, will cost $750 a year.

Hyper-V - here's how it was done

We took a look at the Hyper-V optimised version of Ubuntu and were impressed by the clipboard support, although a little underwhelmed by the rest. Will Cooke, desktop engineering manager at Ubuntu, got in touch to give us a little more insight into how and why Ubuntu appeared in Hyper-V’s gallery.

Ubuntu had been aware that many users ran the OS in a virtualised environment and was keen to improve the experience.

Cooke told The Reg: “When Microsoft expressed a desire to integrate the work they had done to improve the Hyper V experience via support for hv_sock in the kernel and in the XRDP server on Linux, we very quickly established a great working relationship with their engineers and product managers at Microsoft and mapped out what work would be needed.”

The first step was “to package the new version of XRDP and get it in to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and then do some testing to see what needed improving”, which was fed back to Microsoft, which submitted the necessary patches to XRDP.

Next, the Ubuntu team created “a customized version of the desktop which brought in all the components, applied the necessary configuration and produced an image suitable for installing on Hyper V” before finally enabling “XRDP over hv_sock to switch on enhanced session mode”.

Kind old Microsoft helped out again with the metadata necessary to get Ubuntu into the Hyper-V gallery.

Going forward, Cooke said he plans to get the necessary components into the main Ubuntu desktop image, so no special versions are needed. ®

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