According to Canonical’s Dustin Kirkland, Ubuntu Security Team worked hard over the past two months to test and integrate what they called one of the most complex sets of patches into the kernel packages used by all supported Ubuntu Linux releases, including Ubuntu 12.04 ESM (Extended Security Maintenance), Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, and Ubuntu 17.10, to protect them aginst the Meltdown and Spectre bugs.
“Canonical engineers have been working on this since we were made aware under the embargoed disclosure (November 2017) and have worked through the Christmas and New Years holidays, testing and integrating an incredibly complex patch set into a broad set of Ubuntu kernels and CPU architectures,” says Dustin Kirkland, VP, Product Development for Ubuntu.
The patches are expected to arrive early next week
Canonical says that all users of the Ubuntu Linux releases mentioned above should expect the updated kernels early next week, on January 9, or sooner if it’s possible. The updates are only for the 64-bit x86 architecture (amd64), affecting Linux kernel 4.13 HWE in Ubuntu 17.10, Linux kernel 4.4 (and 4.4 HWE) in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Linux 3.13 in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, and Linux 3.2 in Ubuntu 12.04 ESM.
These updates will also cover the Ubuntu optimized kernels used in the cloud for the Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Compute Engine, and Microsoft Azure public cloud services. Canonical also said that a Livepatch kernel wouldn’t be available to patch these major security exploits, which require users to reboot their computers for them to be correctly applied.
On April 26, 2018, Canonical will release the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system, which will be powered by the upcoming Linux 4.15 kernel that is hitting the streets later this month fully patched against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities. Canonical was supposed to release today the first Alpha version of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, but it was dropped due to these exploits.