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What is Ubuntu ESM (Extended Security Maintenance)?

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The Extended Security Maintenance Plan is offered by Canonical exclusively for Ubuntu systems. But what exactly it is about, what it brings and whether it is worth it, we are going through it together today. Have fun. Let’s go after the short intro.

Requirements for ESM

Only Ubuntu Long Term Support (LTS) systems can participate in the ESM program. However, only those versions that have come out of the regular LTS support period. In other words, after five years of presence on the market. Then Ubuntu customers can get another five years of support to address security vulnerabilities.

As with the Canonical Livepatch service for Ubuntu systems, home users can get ESM for three instances free of charge. Members of the Ubuntu community can increase this to up to 50 instances.

Scope and limitations in the ESM programme

ESM is designed solely to provide Ubuntu-based systems and critical infrastructure components with security updates. The esM program can participate in the following solutions:

  • Physical servers or instances
  • Virtual machines
  • Container
  • Ubuntu Desktop

The scope of ESM

ESM covers these updates:

  • Vulnerabilities (CVEs) with high and critical rating
  • Ubuntu based scale-out infrastructure
  • 64-bit x86 Architecture.

Canonical provides security maintenance for a variety of binary packages commonly used in cloud and server workloads on 64-bit x86 AMD/Intel architectures. For more information, see the service description.

Ubuntu has provided an overview that lists the packages included in ESM and those that are not included in ESM. The positive thing about it is that the list of unincluded packages is pretty short. The list of included packages, on the other hand, is much longer. However, Ubuntu points out that the exclusion list does not claim to be exhaustive. It will refer to the list of included packages, because this seems to be complete. What is interesting about the story is that Snap is not included in ESM, at least not in the current Ubuntu 14.04 ESM plan.

Support periods

Ubuntu 14.04 and Ubuntu 16.04 receive three years ESM after the end of the LTS period. Ubuntu 18.04 and Ubuntu 20.04, on the other hand, will receive five years of ESM after the end of the LTS period. Here’s how it can be said:

  • Ubuntu 14.04 will get ESM until 2022
  • Ubuntu 16.04 will get ESM until 2024
  • Ubuntu 18.04 will get ESM until 2028
  • Ubuntu 20.04 will get ESM by 2030


Ubuntu ESM is expected to be well received, especially in the business customer environment. But private customers can also benefit from this. If you use e.B. Ubuntu 16.04 because you’re hanging on to the Unity Desktop, ESM should offer you another three years of carefree Unity Society. Of course, you can also use Unity on Ubuntu 18.04 and Ubuntu 20.04.

Those who attach great importance to maximum stability in combination with maximum product care should be happy with the LTS product care in combination with ESM. But ESM means there are only safety fixes for the foreseeable future, no further product development. So make it clear that ESM means a dance on a frozen version. However, those who use Ubuntu Desktop on their company fleet should get maximum predictability in the duo of LTS and ESM.

For me personally, the use of Ubuntu ESM would be out of the question. But also only because I personally would switch from LTS to LTS version every two or three years and would not use an LTS version 5 or 8 or 10 years. However, those who need maximum planning and product maintenance should access it here.

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Until then! Makes it good and stays healthy. thank you.

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