Ubuntu to move to rapid release Firefox for 10.04 and 10.10
The Ubuntu developers have now decided to switch older versions of Ubuntu, specifically the 10.04 LTS and 10.10 releases, to current releases of Firefox. The new policy will come into place on 17 January when users of those two editions will see their Firefox updated to the current version. Canonical's Micah Gersten, in announcing the change, points out that 10.04 LTS and 10.10 users have been receiving 3.6 point updates but not "benefiting from new features, support for new web technologies, security enhancements, and performance improvements." Gersten says that they need to move users to the rapid release model "so that they will continue to receive security updates in a timely fashion."
The developers also plan to update the repositories to stay synchronised with Mozilla's rapid release program which sees a Firefox update every six weeks. The updates will be pushed to systems through the Ubuntu software update system. Ubuntu 10.04 LTS and 10.10 users should note that addons that are in the Ubuntu repository will be updated when new releases of Firefox are made available, but that addons sourced elsewhere will need to be updated manually. Canonical also warns that "the browsing experience might change slightly with each update."
The decision to track rapid releases in Ubuntu 11.10 and 12.04 LTS was taken in November. This move was in part made because the current Mozilla plan is to end of life Firefox 3.6 in April and there was a lack of any apparent progress on the Extended Support plan proposed in September, beyond some refinement of the proposal. Whether Canonical would have adopted the proposed ESR release for Ubuntu was debatable, as it only provided around one year of support (too short for the three to five year life-cycle of an LTS release); this is now largely academic.