Red Hat Enterprise Linux Life Cycle

Overview

Red Hat Enterprise Linux versions 5, 6 and 7

Red Hat offers subscription services for each major release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux throughout four life-cycle phases—called Full Support, Maintenance Support 1, Maintenance Support 2, and an Extended Life Phase.

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux versions 5, 6, and 7 each deliver ten years of support (unless otherwise noted below under Exceptions) in Full Support, Maintenance Support 1 and Maintenance Support 2 Phases followed by an Extended Life Phase. In addition, for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and 6, customers may purchase annual Add-on subscriptions called Extended Life-cycle Support (ELS) to extend limited subscription services beyond the Maintenance Support 2 Phase.

Exception

  • During the life of Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 7, Red Hat only offers subscription services for each release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host, Red Hat Enterprise Linux for ARM, Red Hat Enterprise Linux for Power LE (POWER9) and Red Hat Enterprise Linux for IBM System z (Structure A) for Full Support Phase (and not Maintenance Support 1 or 2 Phases) support followed by an Extended Life Phase.

Life Cycleviii:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Version 8

Red Hat understands the importance of life cycle planning for our customers, partners, ISVs, and the Red Hat Enterprise Linux ecosystem. With the introduction of Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 8, Red Hat is simplifying the RHEL product phases from four to three: Full Support, Maintenance Support, and Extended Life Phase. We are also providing information on anticipated release dates and minor releases that will offer extended support.

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux Version 8 delivers a ten year life cycle in Full Support and Maintenance Support Phases followed by an Extended Life Phase. In addition, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8, customers may purchase annual Add-on subscriptions called Extended Life-cycle Support (ELS) to extend limited subscription services beyond the Maintenance Support Phase.

Life Cycleviii:

The Red Hat Enterprise Linux life cycle phases are designed to reduce the level of change within each major releasei over time and make release availability and content more predictable.ii

Details

During the life cycle for each major version, software changes to Red Hat Enterprise Linux are delivered via individual updates known as errata advisories through the Red Hat Customer Portaliii or other authorized Red Hat portals. Errata advisories may be released individually on an as-needed basis or aggregated as a minor release. Errata advisories may contain security fixes (Red Hat Security Advisories or RHSAs), bug fixes (Red Hat Bug Fix Advisories or RHBAs), or feature enhancements (Red Hat Enhancement Advisories or RHEAs). Errata advisories are tested and qualified against the active Red Hat Enterprise Linux major release. (For example, a Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 RHSA will be applied cumulatively to the latest Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 version and patch set.) Released errata advisories remain accessible to active subscribers for the entire Red Hat Enterprise Linux life cycle. Within each major release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, any errata advisory (including one released as part of a minor release) will be applied cumulatively to the latest release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, including any patch sets.

During the life cycle of a major Red Hat Enterprise Linux release, Red Hat makes commercially reasonable efforts to maintain binary compatibility for the core runtime environment across all minor releases and errata advisories. If necessary, Red Hat may make exceptions to this compatibility goal for Critical impact security or other significant issues. Furthermore, major releases of Red Hat Enterprise Linux contain a limited set of backward-compatible libraries included in previous major releases to allow for the easy migration of applications. Typically, Red Hat applies changes in such a way as to minimize the amount of change and to maintain binary compatibility. Exceptions may apply for controlled package re-bases under certain circumstances. The binary compatibility goal is extended to Red Hat Enterprise Linux for use in an application container. However, this is not extended to Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host or application containers that may run on top of the host since both may include packages or package versions not shipped as part of the latest version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Additional details can be found in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7: Application Compatibility Guide or the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8: Application Compatibility Guide.

The following table details the subscription services, including support and software maintenance, performed during each phase of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux life cycle:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Life Cycle
Description Full Support Maintenance
Support 1
(RHEL 5, 6, & 7)12
Maintenance
Support (RHEL 8)13

Maintenance
Support 2
(RHEL 5, 6, & 7)12
Extended Life Phase7 Extended Life Cycle Support (ELS) Add-On8 Extended Update Support (EUS) Add-On8
Access to Previously Released Content through the Red Hat Customer Portal Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Self-help through the Red Hat Customer Portal Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Technical Support1 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Limited9 Unlimited Unlimited
Asynchronous Security Errata (RHSA)10 11 Yes Yes Yes No Yes8 Yes8
Asynchronous Bug Fix Errata (RHBA)2 11 Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Minor Releases Yes Yes Yes No No No
Refreshed Hardware Enablement3 Native Limited4 Native Using Virtualization Using Virtualization Using Virtualization Using Virtualization
Software Enhancements5 Yes6 No No No No No
Updated Installation Images Yes Yes Yes No No No
  1. Technical Support access depends on the Service Level included in your Red Hat Enterprise Linux Subscription.
  2. Red Hat may choose, as a temporary measure, to address those catastrophic issues with a significant customer business impact with a Hotfix while the Bug Fix errata advisory (RHBA) is being created.
  3. Native hardware enablement is provided by backporting hardware drivers, etc., to the relevant version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Hardware enablement using virtualization is achieved by running an earlier version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux as a virtual guest on a newer version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. See the Virtualization description below for details. NOTE: Hardware certification (including the associated hardware limits) applies to the version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux that is being used as the host.
  4. Native hardware enablement in the Maintenance Support 1 Phase is limited to hardware enablement that does not require substantial software changes. See the Maintenance Support 1 description below for details.
  5. Software enhancements are additions of new functionality beyond correcting defects or enabling previously existing functionality on a new hardware generation.
  6. Major releases are the primary vehicle for significant software enhancements, although low-impact software enhancement may also be delivered in minor releases.
  7. See the Extended Life Phase description below.
  8. Extended Update Support (EUS) and Extended Life-cycle Support (ELS) are available as optional add-ons. See the EUS and ELS descriptions below.
  9. For existing installations only. See details below for other limitations.
  10. See the Issue Severity Classification page for security severity classifications.
  11. All errata provided at Red Hat's discretion.
  12. Applies to RHEL major versions 5, 6, and 7; does not apply to RHEL 8.
  13. Maintenace Support for RHEL 8 is the equivalent of Maintanace Support 2 for the entire maintance phase.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Production Phases

Full Support Phaseiv:

During the Full Support Phase, qualified Critical and Important Security errata advisories (RHSAs) and Urgent and Selected High Priority Bug Fix errata advisories (RHBAs) may be released as they become available. Other errata advisories may be delivered as appropriate.

If available, new or improved hardware enablement and select enhanced software functionality may be provided at the discretion of Red Hat, generally in minor releases. Hardware enablement that does not require substantial software changes may be provided independent from minor releases at Red Hat's discretion.

Minor releases will also include available and qualified errata advisories (RHSAs, RHBAs, and RHEAs). Minor releases are cumulative and include the contents of previously released updates. The focus for minor releases during this phase lies on resolving defects of medium or higher priority.

Updated installation images will be provided for minor releases during the Full Support Phase.

Maintenance Support 1 Phasev:

During the Maintenance Support 1 Phase, qualified Critical and Important Security errata advisories (RHSAs) and Urgent Priority Bug Fix errata advisories (RHBAs) may be released as they become available. Other errata advisories may be delivered as appropriate.

If available, hardware enablement that does not require substantial software changes may be provided at the discretion of Red Hat, generally in minor releases. New software functionality is not available during this phase.

Minor releases will also include all available and qualified errata. Minor releases are cumulative and thus include the contents of previously released minor releases and errata advisories, including those from Full Support Phase. The focus for minor releases during this phase lies on resolving urgent- or high-priority bugs.

Updated installation images will be provided at Red Hat's discretion for minor releases during the Maintenance Support 1 Phase only if required because of installer changes.

Maintenance Support Phase (RHEL 8) Phase / Maintenance Support 2 Phase (RHEL 5, 6, 7)vi:

During the Maintenance Support Phase for Red Hat Enterprise Linux Version 8 and Maintenance Support 2 Phase for Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 5, 6, and 7, Critical impact Security Advisories (RHSAs) and selected Urgent Priority Bug Fix Advisories (RHBAs) may be released as they become available. Other errata advisories may be delivered as appropriate.

New functionality and new hardware enablement are not planned for availability in the Maintenance Support (RHEL 8) Phase and Maintenance Support 2 (RHEL 5, 6, 7) Phase. Minor releases with updated installation images may be made available in this Phase.

Extended Life Phase:

During the Extended Life Phase, a Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription provides continued access to previously released content on the Red Hat Customer Portal, as well as other content such as documentation and the Red Hat Knowledgebase. Advice for migrating to currently supported Red Hat Enterprise Linux versions may also be provided.

For versions of products in the Extended Life Phase, Red Hat will provide limited ongoing technical support. No bug fixes, security fixes, hardware enablement or root-cause analysis will be available during this phase, and support will be provided on existing installations only.

Red Hat reserves the right to terminate the ongoing support in the Extended Life Phase for a particular version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux at any time.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Life Cycle

Red Hat is providing further predictability for Red Hat Enterprise Linux customers, partners, and ISVs. The below map provides details on when minor releases are planned, and which minor releases will include Extended Update Support and Update Services for SAP Solutions. Minor releases are planned for release every six months through the Full Support phase.

RHEL 8 Planning Guideviii

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Application Streams Life Cycle

The vast majority of packages in Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 8, including most Application Streams, will be maintained for the full 10 year Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 life cycle. Specified life cycle components, however, will be maintained for less than 10 years, with a specified life cycle often matching the upstream life of the component.

Application Streams will adhere to the errata criteria for the Production Phase of the major release. For example, errata released for an Application Stream for RHEL 8 during the Maintenance Support Phase will be confined to Critical impact Security Advisories (RHSAs) and selected Urgent Priority Bug Fix Advisories (RHBAs). Similarly, no new Application Stream will be released during the Maintenance Support Phase and Extended Life Phase since Software Enhancements5 are not permitted during these phases. However, to achieve the 10 years support criteria for RHEL, one version of each Application Stream will be identified at the start of the Maintenance Support Phase and that version will receive maintenance as described by the support phases.

For example, most databases are supported upstream for 5 years and maintenance of their module stream in RHEL 8 will align with their upstream support. There will be overlapping PostgreSQL module streams in RHEL 8, with each stream maintained for 5 years. Customers may select the module stream that best meets their needs. They can install an older version, install a newer version and stay on it for the full 5 years, or update to the latest stream with each release, whatever best fits their use case. Customers never have to update, they can update at their own convenience. If a customer asks for support beyond the specified life of a module stream, they may be asked to move to a newer module stream to take advantage of bug fixes and CVE advisories.

Please see the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Application Streams Life Cycle page for more information.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Longer Support Add-Ons

Extended Update Support Add-onvii

Red Hat offers the Extended Update Support (EUS) Add-On to a Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription for those customers who wish to standardize on a specific minor release for an extended period of time. The EUS Add-On allows customers the flexibility to decide when to take advantage of new Red Hat Enterprise Linux features, including new hardware enablement.

Under a Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription, all available RHSAs and RHBAs are provided for the current active minor release until the availability of the next minor release. By contrast, EUS —for a specific minor release—an independent, extended stream of those Critical impact RHSAs and selected Urgent Priority RHBAs that are available after that specific minor release and in parallel to subsequent minor releases. See the list of packages included here.

Each Red Hat Enterprise Linux EUS stream is available for 24 months from the availability of the minor release.

EUS is not offered on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 for ARM, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 for Power LE (POWER9), or Red Hat Enterprise Linux for IBM System z (Structure A).

Note: The EUS Add-on is included with RHEL Server Premium subscriptions. The EUS Add-on is eligible for purchase with RHEL Server Standard subscriptions. RHEL Server Self-Support, RHEL Desktop, and RHEL Workstation subscriptions are not eligible for the EUS Add-on.

In Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, EUS is available for the following releases:

  • 7.1 (ended March 31, 2017)
  • 7.2 (ended November 30, 2017)
  • 7.3 (ended November 30, 2018)
  • 7.4 (ends August 31, 2019)
  • 7.5 (ends April 30, 2020)
  • 7.6 (ends October 31, 2020)
  • 7.7 (GA 2H/2019; Final RHEL 7 EUS Release)

In Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8, EUS is planned for RHEL 8.1, 8.2, 8.4, 8.6, and 8.8 (see above chart).

Please see this Knowledgebase Article for more details on EUS.

Update Services for SAP Solutions Add-on

Red Hat offers Update Services for SAP Solutions on a Red Hat Enterprise Linux for SAP Solutions subscription for those customers who wish to standardize on a specific minor release for an extended period of time. The Update Services for SAP Solutions allows customers the flexibility to decide when to take advantage of new Red Hat Enterprise Linux features, including new hardware enablement.

Under a Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription, all available RHSAs and RHBAs are provided for the current active minor release until the availability of the next minor release. By contrast, EUS and Update Services for SAP Solutions deliver—for a specific minor release—an independent, extended stream of those Critical impact RHSAs and selected Urgent Priority RHBAs that are available after that specific minor release and in parallel to subsequent minor releases. For EUS and Update Services for SAP Solutions subscribers, Red Hat generally will continue to proactively provide Critical impact RHSAs independent of customer requests if and when available. See the list of packages included here.

Each Red Hat Enterprise Linux Update Services for SAP Solutions stream is available for 48 months from the availability of the minor release.

For Red Hat Enterprise Linux for SAP Solutions, Update Services for SAP Solutions is available for the following releases:

  • 7.2 (ends November 30, 2019)
  • 7.3 (ends November 30, 2020)
  • 7.4 (ends August 31, 2021)
  • 7.6 (ends October 31, 2022)
  • 7.7 (GA 2H/2019; Final RHEL 7 Update Services for SAP Solutions Release)

Future Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 releases for which Update Services for SAP Solutions is applicable will be added to the above list upon achieving SAP certification.

Extended Life-cycle Support Add-On:

Extended Life-cycle Support (ELS) is an optional Add-On subscription for certain Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscriptions. Available during the Extended Life Phase for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and 6, the ELS Add-On delivers certain critical-impact security fixes and selected urgent priority bug fixes and troubleshooting for the last minor release. For Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, the ELS Add-On covers the IBM z Systems and the x86 architecture, both 32-bit and 64-bit variants with the exception of the Itanium architecture. For Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, the ELS Add-On covers the IBM z Systems and the x86 architecture, both 32-bit and 64-bit variants. Add-Ons are not covered by ELS.

For guidance on how to best modernize your Red Hat infrastructure with a solution that meets your business needs, contact Red Hat Consulting. See the list of packages included in ELS here.

Note: Only Standard or Premium subscriptions to RHEL Server are eligible for ELS Support. RHEL Desktop or RHEL Workstation subscriptions are not eligible for ELS

Virtualization

Virtualization provides hardware abstraction for guest operating systems. Abstraction allows a guest that is running an older version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux that does not support the latest server hardware to be easily deployed on a virtualization host that does. In this way, a Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 guest can be hosted by Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 on a latest-generation processor.

Red Hat intends to support those versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux that are still within the Production or Extended Life Phase when run as virtualized guests on later versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

The Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtualization support matrix provides details on the supported combinations of operating systems, versions, and hardware architectures.

Life-cycle Dates

All future dates mentioned for "End of Full Support" and "End of Maintenance Support 1" are close approximations, non definitive, and subject to change.

Version General Availability End of Full Support End of Maintenance Support 1 End of Maintenance Support or Maintenance Support 2 (Product retirement) End of Extended Life-cycle Support End of Extended Life Phase Last
Minor
Release
4 February 14, 2005 March 31, 2009 February 16, 2011 February 29, 2012 March 31, 2017 Ongoing 4.9
5 March 15, 2007 January 8, 2013 January 31, 2014 March 31, 2017 November 30, 2020 Ongoing 5.11
6 November 10, 2010 May 10, 2016 May 10, 2017 November 30, 2020 June 30, 2024 Ongoing 6.10
7 June 10, 2014 ~Q4 of 2019 ~Q4 of 2020 June 30, 2024 N/A Ongoing TBD
7 (ARM) November 13, 2017 November 30, 2020 N/A N/A N/A Ongoing 7.6
7 (POWER9) November 13, 2017 November 30, 2020 N/A N/A N/A Ongoing 7.6
7 (System z (Structure A)) April 10, 2018 November 30, 2020 N/A N/A N/A Ongoing 7.6
8 May 2019 May 2024 Not Applicable for RHEL 8 May 2029 TBD TBD TBD

To see the Life-cycle dates for older major, minor, and longer support add-on versions which are no longer receiving maintenance updates, please refer to https://access.redhat.com/articles/4038291

Other Related Products

For information on the life cycle of Red Hat Software Collections, please see https://access.redhat.com/site/support/policy/updates/rhscl/.

For information on the life cycle of Red Hat Enterprise Linux Extras, please see https://access.redhat.com/site/support/policy/updates/extras/.

For information on the life cycle of Red Hat Enterprise Linux for Real Time, please see https://access.redhat.com/support/policy/updates/realtime

  1. i. Major releases are denoted by a whole number, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.
  2. ii. Red Hat publishes this life cycle in an effort to provide as much transparency as possible although reserves the right to make exceptions from these policies as conflicts arise.
  3. iii. Red Hat Network (RHN) can be accessed through the Red Hat Customer Portal.
  4. iv. The Full Support Phase was formerly called the "Production 1" Phase.
  5. v. The Maintenance Support 1 Phase was formerly called the "Production 2" Phase.
  6. vi. The Maintenance Support 2 Phase was formerly called the "Production 3" Phase.
  7. vii. For details on the EUS Add-On, please refer to https://access.redhat.com/node/4082531
  8. viii. The life-cycle time spans and dates are subject to adjustment.