ISC's Software Support Policy and Version Numbering
The purpose of this article is to help users determine how long a given ISC release is likely to be supported. This information is useful when deciding when to schedule a migration, or in some cases, to help determine which version to migrate to when updating.
For the most current information on the status of any particular software version, please refer to the software status listed on the downloads page.
BIND 9 (updated as of 2/2024)
We have four types of major BIND 9 versions: Development, Stable, Extended Support (ESV), and Supported Preview (also known as "Subscription," or -S).
We release Development versions off of the current working (main) branch. These are the odd-numbered major versions, such as BIND 9.17, 9.19, etc.
We typically release minor Development releases monthly (e.g. 9.19.1, 9.19.2). Development version minor releases introduce new features and significant refactoring and may not be backward-compatible with their immediate predecessor. Development versions of BIND are suitable for those interested in experimenting with and providing feedback to ISC upon their features. There are no alpha, beta or release candidates published. This process has been replaced with development versions. It may sometimes happen that a recently-released minor version is superseded very quickly in order to address a flaw. We may not issue -P releases for Development versions with security bugs, at our discretion.
Development versions are maintained for 24 months. At the end of the 24-month period, the stabilized Development version is re-labeled and re-released as the next Stable version, and we will begin a new Development branch.
We stabilize all the even-numbered major versions for production use – for example, BIND 9.18 and BIND 9.20. Each major branch has a series of minor releases, such as BIND 9.18.0, 9.18.1, etc.
Stable branches of BIND get minor feature updates and bug fixes for 12 - 18 months, but then are put into Extended Support mode and receive only critical fixes and eventually, only security patches. Within a Stable branch, users should be able to update from one minor version to another without worrying about a break in backward-compatibility.
Extended Support versions (ESV)
Every Stable version moves into Extended Support after a year or so of active development, for a total lifetime of four years from initial release. Organizations with a long internal validation, integration, or deployment cycle should consider beginning their validation process with a Stable version and deploying when that branch enters the Extended Support phase.
See the accompanying chart which shows when we plan to declare ESV status. For example:
- BIND 9.18 was declared ESV in 2023
- every Stable version will be declared ESV when the team feels confident that it is ready for conservative users.
Supported Preview (also known as "Subscription," marked -S)
Releases marked with a -S are part of ISC’s Supported Preview edition. These releases provide a deployable, supported vehicle for our support customers to receive early access to new features in development. The -S edition is created for and available to ISC paid support subscribers, and may also be offered to community developers for testing and feedback. The -S edition includes select unreleased software that ISC judges to be stable enough for production use. Features in the -S version may still be in development and may be changed or even removed by the time of the public release.
The -S edition releases are based on an ESV branch, and are actively maintained and patched in case of security vulnerabilities, just as our regular public releases are.
The -S support plan is different from regular releases:
- When we put out a new maintenance release, we do a corresponding -S1 that normally includes all the bug fixes in the maintenance release, and is normally a superset of the code in the corresponding maintenance version.
- If we have to do a security patch (-P), we do a corresponding -S for the -S edition. For example, if we were issuing a 9.16.8-P1, and the current release of the S edition was 9.16.8-S1, the corresponding security release for the -S edition would be numbered 9.16.8-S2.
- We add changes (new features) to the -S edition between maintenance releases that we do not add to a maintenance release of the public edition.
- We do not support more than one -S edition release on any given branch.
- When we start producing an -S edition on a new branch, we continue to support the -S edition on the prior branch for another six months to support migration.
Minimal security updates
All supported versions of BIND 9 may occasionally receive unscheduled releases in response to a critical security bug; in that case, the changes introduced between that version and its predecessor are minimal and necessary only.
Operating System support
We have a published list of supported operating systems. These are the operating systems we can test on, or that we know to work. BIND may compile and run on other operating systems or versions but we don't guarantee it and we cannot commit to fixing issues with those operating systems or building packages for them. Please refer to the BIND ARM or this KB article for more information.
Some of our ISC packages for BIND are built and hosted on external sites. We cannot begin building these until the open source releases are published, and sometimes building and publication of these packages is delayed by factors outside our control (e.g. if the external repository is busy or unavailable.)
End of Life
Historical EOL dates for BIND versions are documented here.
We have established a process for removing named.conf options. This is a gradual and phased process intended to provide ample notice of a coming change that might break an established configuration.
Kea (updated as of 2/2024)
We have two types of major Kea versions: Development and Stable. At any given time, we should have three options available: two Stable releases and one Development release.
We release Development versions off of the current working (master) branch. These are the odd-numbered minor versions (where the second digit of the release number is odd), starting from Kea 2.5.0, 2.5.1, 2.5.2 and so on, until that branch is replaced with the next odd-numbered minor version, Kea 2.7.0.
We typically issue Development branch releases monthly. These minor updates will introduce new and updated features and may not be backward-compatible with their immediate predecessor. Development versions of Kea are suitable for those interested in experimenting with and providing feedback to ISC, but are not recommended for production use. There will be no alpha/beta/release candidate versions of Development versions, and it may sometimes happen that a recently-released minor version is superseded very quickly in order to address a flaw. We may not issue patch releases for Development versions with security bugs, at our discretion.
Development versions are maintained until the next Stable version is created, at which time we begin a new Development branch (with the next odd number). We estimate Development versions will mature into Stable versions in approximately a year, but this is a prediction, not a promise.
All the even-numbered minor versions (where the second digit of the version number is even) are for production use – for example, Kea 2.2 and Kea 2.4 are Stable versions. Each of these branches may have a series of maintenance releases, such as Kea 2.2.1, etc. Maintenance releases on a Stable version include bug fixes only, to maximize stability. There is no fixed schedule for issuing maintenance releases and we will release one only if there are significant issues to repair.
Stable versions of Kea are fully supported for at least six months after the next Stable version is released. This means you should have ample time to migrate to a new Stable version before the older one is EOL. We do not yet have "Extended Support" versions of Kea; we still have a very high rate of new feature development and are not yet ready for a long-lived Stable branch. We expect to be able to update the Kea DHCP packages the same day we post the tarballs.
Operating System support
We have a published list of supported operating systems. These are the operating systems we can test on, or that we know to work. Kea may compile and run on other operating systems or versions but we don't guarantee it and we cannot commit to fixing issues with those operating systems or building packages for them. See the platforms.md statement in the Kea repository.
Historical EOL dates for older Kea versions are documented here
Stork is considered an experimental or best effort project. All releases should be regarded as Development releases. It is under active development and we cannot guarantee that there will not be backwards-incompatible changes at this time.
Other general policy guidelines
Standard support terms do not apply to Development releases, Stork, or the BIND Supported Preview edition. Development releases are typically shorter-lived releases and are not recommended for production deployment.
ISC DHCP - EOL
ISC DHCP has reached the end of public maintenance. We previously maintained two branches of ISC DHCP:
- DHCP 4.1-ESV was originally scheduled to go to EOL in December 2015, but we extended this until 4.1-ESV-R16-P2 to maintain a smaller-footprint edition.
- DHCP 4.4 was the most recent ESV version.
The client and relay components were EOL with version 4.4.3. The server components were EOL with version 4.4.3-P1.
- All other versions of ISC DHCP, including 4.2.x and 4.3.x, are EOL.
- ISC ceased support for the ISC DHCP Client and Relay by the end of Q2, 2022. ISC ceased public support for the Server at the end of 2022.
ISC is still supporting the DHCP server for existing technical support customers. There is no end date established for this EOL-support service.