Canonical To Drop Support For Ubuntu 9.10
With an announcement on the security mailing list, Canonical has confirmed that support for Ubuntu 9.10 will cease on April 29 2011. This came as no surprise as it adheres to the expected support cycle of a .10 Ubuntu release, and 9.10 is now 18 months old.
The recommended upgrade path from 9.10 is to Ubuntu 10.4. 10.04 is a long term support (LTS) release, and support will end on April 2013. Note that, according to official Ubuntu documentation, it's not possible to skip a release version when upgrading. So, it's not possible to go straight from 9.10 to 10.10. It is possible to upgrade from 9.10 to 10.04 and then to 10.10. That's quite a lot to go through, and personally, I'd be tempted to make a fresh install and migrate the user data.
The canonical policy of upgrades at dependable intervals is admirable, but its cyclic nature does present a problem because end of life periods coincide with new releases. At the moment, a person with a system that is on 9.10 might wonder if it is better to wait for the 11.x series to begin.
Take into account that a full system upgrade often cannot be carried out on a whim. Also bear in mind that most people wait for a new release to be confirmed as stable before taking the plunge. Presumably, the repositories themselves will become inaccessible, so this means that, for many users, there will be a gap when 9.10 is difficult to maintain and 11.4 isn't quite ready for installation.
Perhaps Canonical need to consider release and support cycles that include a period of overlap? Okay, okay, in all fairness, some might wave a finger and argue that this problem could be avoided by carrying out regular upgrades when they become available. However, at 18 months or less, the lifespan of 9.10, doesn't feel that long on a personal level.