There are currently 6 Linux kernels that are still listed as LTS (Long Term Support): 4.14, 4.19, 5.4, 5.15, and 6.1. Although the 4.14 kernel is set to drop off of LTS support in early 2024, that’s still a lot of kernels to support by a team of (mostly) volunteer developers. It also can be frustrating, given some of those kernels (especially the 4.x releases) are hardly (if at all) in use.
But it’s not just about those older releases not being in use. Jonathan Corbet, Linux kernel developer and executive editor of Linux Weekly News, spoke at the Open Source Summit and mentioned that developer burnout is a big problem.
Given the time involved with maintaining a Linux kernel (as well as the number of developers it takes to make it happen), it’s no wonder developers are suffering under the weight of work and pressure.
It’s also important to understand that only 200 of the 2000 kernel developers are actually paid for their work.
Those developers are asked to handle fuzz testing, fixing minor bugs, and reviewing contributions from other developers. All of this could easily lead to a collapse of the process.
Because of those reasons, Linux LTS kernels will shift from 6 years of support to 2.