Canonical makes Ubuntu Pro free for up to five machines • Registration

Canonical has opened up its previously paid update service for Ubuntu Pro. Now it’s free for up to five physical boxes.

The announcement only applies to Long Term Support releases. All you need is a free Ubuntu One account to sign up and get a token.

When you connect your machines to Ubuntu Pro, they get extended security maintenance coverage, which means the normal five years of software updates are extended to 10 years. The free offering also includes the company’s Livepatch service, which can install critical kernel updates without rebooting the computer. This is potentially very useful for busy servers, for which scheduling a maintenance window and downtime can be difficult, but is less important for desktop machines.

For servers, any Ubuntu virtual machines on that server are also covered as long as the physical host system is running Ubuntu. Machines can be attached to Ubuntu Pro using the command line pro attach or in the GUI via the Ubuntu Software & Updates app under the Livepatch tab.

As we previously reported, Ubuntu Pro also extends to Google Cloud and AWS.

The step is reminiscent of Red Hat, which offers its paid enterprise Linux distribution RHEL free of charge for up to 16 systems. For Canonical and Red Hat as well as for the largest independent Linux vendor SUSE, the main sources of income are paid services and support. The main difference between SUSE and Red Hat’s business models and Canonical’s is that the Ubuntu distribution is free… although a decade ago the company controversially asked for donations on its downloads page and displayed Amazon results in its search tool.

Canonical sells support under a tiered scheme called Ubuntu Advantage, which is so complex the company offers a full page of infographics to explain it. Its entry-level service offering is Ubuntu Pro, which itself has multiple tiers, with separate pricing for server and desktop support.

The most basic level of support consists mainly of system updates. The biennial LTS versions of Ubuntu get five years of updates by default, and about a year ago the company extended that to 10 years for versions 14.04 and 16.04.

Canonical has been talking about going public for five years, but for now it’s still privately held. The main difference between Canonical and the two largest enterprise Linux vendors, SUSE and Red Hat, is that Canonical’s main distribution is free; SUSE and Red Hat both sponsor free distributions, openSUSE and Fedora respectively, but these are only supported by the community.

Fedora releases are updated up to four weeks after the latest version is released. Since new Fedora versions come out roughly every six months, that means 13 months of updates. The slow-running Leap version of openSUSE puts out point releases about annually, which are supported until six months after the next version.

So if you were running an Ubuntu LTS version, you were already significantly better off than with the free products from the two competitors. Recently, the Debian project has also started offering long-term support.

Unfortunately, as is common for press releases and marketing information, technical details on how it works and what exactly it covers are sparse. Call us cynical if you will, but we suspect the good folks in the marketing department don’t know what a “repository” is. As far as we can tell, this doesn’t just include software from Ubuntu main Depot, but also the universe repo, which means that in theory it should cover more or less all packages in the distribution except the loaded ones restricted and multiverse repos.

If so, this is a huge undertaking. In comparison, the repos for SLE and RHEL are relatively small. For example, although SUSE was a prominent supporter of KDE until Novell forcibly married it to GNOME pusher Ximian, SLE no longer includes KDE at all – you need to add an unsupported community repo to get the German-made desktop on the German desktop to install. created distribution.

It could well be that Canonical has some telemetry on what its paying customers are running and knows very few tools are running universe, and therefore feels able to handle this significant maintenance effort. Roughly estimated, there are about 60,000 packages in the main and universe Repos who is in the ballpark of 20 times more than in RHEL or SLE. ® Canonical makes Ubuntu Pro free for up to five machines • Registration

Rick Schindler

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