Google has committed to a four-year support lifetime for its Linux kernel forks, starting with kernel 6.6.
Android devices utilize the Linux kernel and need to be periodically updated to receive fixes for security issues.
The upstream Linux kernel project recently ended its six-year support lifetime commitment for LTS releases, which would’ve been bad for the security of Android devices, so Google had to step up.

Android, like many other operating systems, uses the open-source Linux kernel. There are several different types of Linux kernel releases, but the type that’s most important to Android is the long-term support (LTS) one, as they’re updated regularly with important bug fixes and security patches. Starting in 2017, the support lifetime of LTS releases of Linux was extended from two years to six years, but early last year, this extension was reversed. Fortunately, Google has announced that moving forward, they’ll support their own LTS kernel releases for four years. Here’s why that’s important for the security of Android devices.

The Linux kernel found on most Android devices is derived from one of Google’s Android Common Kernel (ACK) branches. These ACK branches are created from the Android mainline kernel branch whenever a new LTS release is declared upstream. For example, the android15-6.6 ACK branch was created shortly after version 6.6 was declared as the latest LTS version, with the “android15” in the name referencing the Android release that the kernel is associated with (in this case, Android 15.)


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