In a recent presentation at Linaro Connect, it was revealed that the Linux kernel would be moving to a six-year LTS. Right now LTS kernels are only supported for two years, which can be a problem when a hardware design pipeline can take more than 12-18 months for a device to make it into a consumer’s hands, and that’s not even taking into account SoC development. This new change, combined with Google’s Project Treble, could further extend device support for Android updates and might spell good news for consumers.
For the full details regarding the LTS announcement, as well as general news on the state of Project Treble, you can watch the video just below:
The TL;DW is that new 6-year LTS kernels are coming, and that will (probably) be a good thing for Android. As quoted by Google’s Iliyan Malchev:
All Android devices out there […] are based of the LTS kernel, the long-term support one. Well the problem with LTS is it’s only two years. And so, by the time the first devices on an SoC hit the market you have maybe a year — if you’re lucky — of LTS support. And if you’re not, it’s over. […] Greg Kroah-Hartman has given me permission to announce this here. He will start, he will extend LTS to six years, starting with kernel 4.4.
This is likely to have a big effect on Android because it uses the Linux kernel. Since the Linux kernel tends to see frequent updates these days, most manufacturers prefer to stick with designing things around the two-year LTS Kernels, as they still get back-ported updates and security fixes. In fact, almost all Chromebooks and Android devices live with the kernel version they initially ship with for their entire software support lives.
This change to LTS support lengths means