Desktop Support Options

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2008-04-25 Print this article Print

Where the desktop OSes from Linux headliners Red Hat and Novell are divided between short-lived, community-supported, fee-free offerings (Fedora and OpenSUSE, respectively) and longer-term, vendor-backed, service-fee-toting options (Red Hat Enterprise and SUSE Linux Enterprise), no such commercial versus community bifurcation exists for Ubuntu.

Instead, Ubuntu's primary corporate sponsor, Canonical, labels all of its releases as fit for broad consumption, with optional paid support available to supplement the forums, wikis, chat rooms and other Web-based community support outlets that have grown up around the distribution.

One distinction that Canonical does maintain for Ubuntu releases is that between long and short support terms. Canonical ships a new release of Ubuntu every six months, with a standard security and bug fix support term of 18 months. Every two years, Canonical distributes an LTS (Long-Term Support) Ubuntu release, with a support term of three years for desktop configurations and five years for servers.

Three years on the desktop falls far short of the 10-year support term that Microsoft offers for its Windows client, but Ubuntu boasts an effective in-place upgrade mechanism, and the upgrades are freely available.

Canonical offers a 24/7 support plan for $900 per desktop per year, and a 9/5 support plan for $250 per desktop per year. To compare, Novell's support plans are significantly less costly, with a 24/7 support package priced at $220 per year, and a 12/5 support plan at $120 per year. Both of those prices include the yearly $50 license fee for Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. 

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at

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