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Long-term Yocto Maintenance top tips!

Homepage Long-term Yocto Maintenance top tips!

The saying third times a charm really came true for the Yocto Master Class Part Three, as we tackled our long-term Yocto maintenance top tips and had more attendees and the best engagement with our audience ever! 😍

Once again, the master class was held in partnership with Mender.io, and this time we focused on the issue of how to manage and maintain a Yocto distribution with Secure Updates.

With a typical Yocto project release lasting just one year, its understandable why the topic of longer-term maintenance would be of interest to so many in our community.

As the host of the event, and the content manager for Witekio, I’ve listed my top takeaways from the talk below. Yes, there will be memes with me, there always are. 🤣

Yocto Long-Term Maintenance Takeaways

A Yocto release lasts as long as your childhood hamster (if you’re lucky!)

Of course, we’re exaggerating (RIP Mr Fluffy🐹 )  but the average lifespan of a Yocto release is around a year. Yocto launch two new releases per year and each release goes through a 4-stage lifecycle:

  1. Initial release – It’s a new product on the market so it will have some issues, but thanks to all the new users, they can be found and sorted.
  2. Stable – they’ve got out the major kinks and now are making small stable changes over a few months.
  3. Community stage – once it’s released and stable the Yocto Project community take over to maintain it and improve it where possible. This is a volunteer role and so is only maintained as long as the volunteer wants to.
  4. End Of Life – As dramatic as that sounds, it just means that you are responsible for maintaining the Yocto release as the project and volunteers will no longer work on it.

What does this mean for you?

Imagine you get a product out to market in 6 months with the latest Yocto (you wish, right!). There is a huge possibility that you have just over 6 months until you’re left responsible for maintenance and security.

And if you have a connected device in any way, shape or form, security is vital.

LTS to the rescue?!

Yocto Project understood that all this maintenance wasn’t idea if they wanted people to use their software in projects going to market, especially as a products lifecycle is usually around the 2–3-year mark.

To combat this gap, they launched a new breed of Yocto LTS (Longer Term Releases) with guaranteed support for up to two years.

Seems like a perfect solution that you should switch to instantly? Not quite.

Yoto project believes that LTS is probably going to become the default choice for most developers due to the fact that it’s much easier to integrate changes and should keep your platform more secure for a much longer period of time.

However, in some cases it won’t give you any new version upgrades. This means no new kernel features or tangible performance boosts, which can be an issue if your product needs updated features as part of its functionality.

Fed up of maintaining a Yocto LTS project?

So What LTS Release is best for you?

Mender.io spokesperson Josef Holtzman went through the pros and cons of each, and I’m outlining those highlights below so you can decide for your project.

Dunfell:

If you do not need any hardware revisions, have a project that is completely done, and now it is just a case of provisioning devices and shipping, you can stay on Dunfell for at least a few years.

If you do need new hardware or new software features that updated libraries will bring – Dunfell is not for you.

Kirkstone:

If your project needs hardware revisions (especially in this chip shortage climate) then back porting to Kirkstone is far less painful that Dunfell.

Kirkstone also gives you new features, reasonable stability and you are in a much better position to update to the next LTS at some point in the future.

Why does Yocto change all the time?

It’s an ongoing joke in the industry that has birthed lots of memes, but in reality, the Yocto changes aren’t there to confuse or annoy you, they are often made to reflect society.

For instance, the latest Kirkstone changes have replaced language that wasn’t appropriate in today’s world.

Make sure to pick a company that KNOWS Yocto.

A perfect example is Witekio – you knew the plug would be somewhere! – as we have over 140 dedicated Linux engineers.

Or of course Mender, which offers an OTA solution that directly integrates into the Yocto build (check out meta-mender).

There’s really no point in you wasting time and money on your developers reinventing the wheel, when reputable companies can help you get what you need in a secure, streamlined way, leaving your team to focus on other aspects of your project.

Webinar Overview:

Event:  Yocto Master Class – Managing and Maintaining a Yocto distribution with Secure Updates

Duration: 1 hour

Presenters:

  • Russell Bateman, Embedded Software Developer – Witekio
  • Josef Holzmayr, Head of Developer Relations – Mender.io

Topics: 

▪ Yocto release cycles, LTS versus mainline and other releases

▪ Yocto maintenance in action with practical use cases

▪ The obstacles you can hit while upgrading

▪ How to integrate Mender into your Yocto project

Webinar Timestamps:

Yocto release Rundown

LTS releases

What does LTS give/not give you?

The challenges

How to make updating easier

Dunfell to Kirkstone upgrade info

Reasoning for Yocto changes

Version upgrade obstacles

Updates with Mender

Extended Q&A session

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