Linux 2.4 Hits the End of the Line

From the ‘All Good Things…’ files:

The first Linux 2.4 kernel was released in January of 2001. Today after eleven years of service, it looks like the end of the 2.4 kernel is finally here.

The 2.4 kernel has been in maintenance only mode for most of the last six years since the 2.6 kernel was first released. There has long been a subset of vendors (many on the embedded side) that still relied 2.4, but that’s no longer the case.

Linux 2.4 maintainer Willy Tarreau today announced that there would be no more 2.4 kernel releases. The news shouldn’t come as a surprise either, since Tarreau warned of this day over a year ago.

“15 months ago I announced that if no more critical fix was to be merged by one year, 2.4 would be EOLed after a year (around december 2011),” Tarreau wrote. “The break-in of last year made things a bit difficult for some users but nothing really important for 2.4 users was merged since, so the EOL had no reason to be delayed.”

As is often the case in open source, I suspect this isn’t quite the last we’ve heard of Linux 2.4. I suspect that this final EOL message will wake up some developer or vendor that suddenly realizes they still need the old kernel.

That said after 11 years of life, six of which were as a standby for Linux 2.6, the time has come for the 2.4 kernel. Enterprise operating systems have 10 years life spans so 11 years is reasonable for them. On the embedded side, I suspect that there will be some 2.4 devices that survive in the wild for a while longer yet.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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