Possibility for FreeBSD 4.11 Extended Support

Robert Watson rwatson at FreeBSD.org
Fri Dec 22 23:08:12 PST 2006

On Fri, 22 Dec 2006, Peter Jeremy wrote:

> [Not picking on Michael in particular, several people have made
> similar comments]
> On Fri, 2006-Dec-22 00:15:13 -0500, Michael R. Wayne wrote:
>>> THAT< is why people who run servers, with jails, quotas, ipfw and
>> moderate load keep complaining about 5.X and 6.1 and begging for 4.11 
>> support to be extended.  Just because someone has a few FreeBSD boxes 
>> running light loads and not using the features that we NEED does not mean 
>> that any the port 4.11 releases to date are stable.
> The FreeBSD Project is a volunteer effort.  It is currently supporting 4.11, 
> 5.5, 6.1, preparing to release 6.2 and developing 7.x.  You cannot demand 
> that volunteers do anything - they work on FreeBSD because they enjoy it. 
> If your business is relying on FreeBSD 4.11 and you do not believe the 
> _free_ support you have been getting is adequate, you are always welcome to 
> look through the list at 
> http://www.freebsd.org/commercial/consult_bycat.html and find someone to 
> provide whatever level of support you want.

It's interesting that so far I've actually not yet seen even one person e-mail 
security-team since the EoL announcement to say,

   "If I volunteer my time or pay for your time to support 4.11 for security
    patches, can we extend the EoL?".

If I missed your e-mail, sorry about that, but I do read pretty fairly 
carefully so feel some justification in making this claim.  Thus far, I really 
know of only two or so things that will change with the EoL date:

(1) Security patches and advisories are no longer guaranteed for
     4.11/4-STABLE.  That doesn't mean they won't/can't happen, just that we
     don't promise they will.  We don't officially support binary updates on
     4.x, and whether availability will change for that will depend on the
     discretionary of Colin acting in a non-official capacity.  Here's the URL
     for details:


     If there's a remote-to-root or local-to-root vulnerability, I'm pretty
     certain you'll see it patched, this is simply us not promising to hold the
     security advisory on that happening.  All this work was already being done
     by volunteers anyway, so our promise remains a promise and not a contract
     for newer versions as well.

(2) The ports team will no longer work really hard (tm) to keep ports working
     there.  They will keep building packages, etc.  You can read about what it
     specifically means here:


Here are some things that won't go away:

- The ability to download and run 4.x releases, even download and install

- The ability to ask 4.x questions on freebsd-questions, freebsd-eol, and
   likely even freebsd-stable.

- The ability to get committers to commit patches to 4-STABLE (subject to the
   normal cajoling and convincing process).

- If you support 4.x as a product inside your organization, this won't change
   either, unless you choose to make the change.  You'll still be taking
   support requests, identifying bugs, submitting bug reports, submitting
   patches when you fix things (right?), cvsupping once in a while to pick
   up fixes, etc.  You'll also still be keeping an eye on security advisories,

Here are some things that won't change:

- There still won't be many FreeBSD developers regularly working on 4.x, but
   there will be some.

- There will still be lots of people running 4.x, especially older releases
   that are embedded in appliances, companies with distributed products, etc.

I wouldn't be surprised if a few more aging and unhandled PR's are flushed 
from the bug report database as a result of the EoL, but in practice, 4.x will 
keep running largely as it has since 4.11 was released.

If you have tried a 6.x upgrade in the past, please give it a try again.  If 
you run into a problem, please file a bug report, or at least make sure 
there's a bug report filed on the issue and that you've followed up at least 
once confirming the problem is still present with 6.2-RCX.  If you know 
something that doesn't appear in the PR, follow up with that information. 
You can do this by putting the PR name/number in the e-mail subject and 
e-mailing the bug-followup address; the body of your message should go into 
the PR.

Robert N M Watson
Computer Laboratory
University of Cambridge

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