Traditionally, updates for the stable release and long term stable release Cloud Images have been on an ad-hoc basis; reasons for releasing new images were generally restricted to security, critical bugs, and stale images. This ad-hoc update cycle meant that updated images were only released every three months or so, and for older releases, as often as six months.
While quality has always been a concern and top priority, during this cycle, Canonical has worked to vastly improve the QA infrastructure to support our Cloud Images. For example, when a new kernel is released, the daily build for that image is now put through the complete QA process. This change in process has allowed us to identify and automatically evaluate whether or not an image is a good candidate for update release.
As such, we are pleased to announce in the next few weeks, we will be turning on automated updates for Ubuntu Server 10.04 LTS, 11.10, 12.04 LTS, and 12.10. This means that approximately every three to four weeks, a new, freshened image will be released. The release cadence will follow the kernel SRU process.
The first updated image to be released under this process was 10.04 LTS.
There are a variety of ways to find the released Cloud Images. The two easiest ways are to go the AMI Finder or use http://cloud-images.ubuntu.com/releases/<SUITE>/release. For example, http://cloud-images.ubuntu.com/releases/lucid/release would bring you to the last AMI's for Ubuntu Server 10.04 LTS.
Due to this change, we will discontinuing the email notifications of updated images to the various email lists for updated images. At UDS-R in Copenhagen, we discussed email notifications and the decision was reached to discontinue them. Replacing email notification is the RSS feed and release notes (example from 10.04 LTS).
As Cloud Image suites are migrated to automated releases, we will follow up on this announcement.
Finally, for 12.04 LTS and later, this change will introduce lock-step update releases with Windows Azure. As Windows Azure moves towards GA, we have been working to have the same releases for the Ubuntu Server Cloud Images on both EC2 and Windows Azure.
As always, your feedback is most appreciated. Please feel free to follow on either this post or to email concerns direct to me.