Ubuntu 16.04 reached its end of life on April 29, 2021. It was released five years ago. That’s the life of a long-term support release of Ubuntu.
The end of life of an Ubuntu version means there will be no security and maintenance updates for Ubuntu 16.04 users anymore unless they pay for extended security.
You will not get updates for installed applications and you won’t be able to install new applications using the apt command or the Software Center without manually modifying sources.list (not recommended).
This is also applicable for other Ubuntu flavors such as Kubuntu 16.04, Lubuntu 16.04, Xubuntu 16.04 etc. It also holds true for any other Linux distributions version based on Ubuntu 16.04 such as Linux Mint 18.x series, elementary OS 4 etc.
Check your Ubuntu version and see if you’re still using Ubuntu 16.04 with this command in the terminal.
If that’s the case for a desktop or a server you run, let’s see where you can go from here.
Upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS from Ubuntu 16.04
If you have a consistent and good speed internet connection, you can upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS from within Ubuntu 16.04. Ubuntu 18.04 is also a long term support release and it will be supported till April 2023. That gives you two years before another upgrade.
I was using Ubuntu 16.04 server to host the It’s FOSS community forum and upgraded it to 18.04 a couple of weeks back.
I recommend reading this tutorial about upgrading your Ubuntu version.
Make a backup, do a fresh install of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (ideal for desktop users)
Another option is that you make a backup of your Documents, Music, Pictures, Downloads and any other folders where you have kept essential data that you cannot afford to lose.
When I say backup, I simply mean copying these folders to an external USB disk. In other words, you should have a way to copy the data back to your computer because you’ll be formatting your system.
Also make a list of applications you have installed. You’ll have to freshly install these apps in the new system. Do bear in mind that some of the applications might not be available in the newer version of Ubuntu.
I would recommend this option for desktop users. Ubuntu 20.04 is the current long term support release and it will be supported till at least April 2025. You have four long years before you’ll be forced into another upgrade.
Pay for extended security maintenance and continue using Ubuntu 16.04
This is suited to enterprise/corporate clients. Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu, offers the Ubuntu Advantage program where customers can pay for phone-/email-based support among other benefits.
Ubuntu Advantage program users also have the Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) feature. This program provides security updates even after a given version reaches end of life.
This comes at a cost. It costs $225 per year per physical node for server users. For desktop users, the price is $150 per year. You can see detailed pricing for the Ubuntu Advantage program here.
Still using Ubuntu 16.04?
Using an unsupported operating system is never recommended. It is time for Ubuntu 16.04 users to choose one of the suggested options.
Writing this article made me feel nostalgic about 16.04. It introduced Snap support which is not liked by many. I liked the Unity desktop environment, though. As the last remaining distribution to feature the Unity desktop, Ubuntu 16.04 will surely be missed.