Featured November 17, 2021

Announcing Long Term Support Releases for Notecard Firmware

The first Long Term Support (LTS) release of our Notecard Firmware is available today.

Brandon Satrom, VP of Developer Experience

Title image credit Miguel Bruna on Unsplash.

On December 7th, Blues Wireless will celebrate one year since we launched the Notecard and Notehub.io to the public. And what a year it’s been: we’ve seen thousands of Notecards come online, and over 20 million events sent to Notehub.io from nearly all 135 countries supported by our products. We also added the Airnote air quality monitor, and Swan MCU to our lineup of products as we continue to deliver on our vision to simplify cellular and help our customers accelerate their IoT applications.

And while we have big plans for 2022 that we can’t wait to share with you, I wanted to take a moment to drop and early surprise that I know many of our customers will appreciate. Today, I am happy to announce the first Long Term Support (LTS) release of our Notecard Firmware, and our framework for Developer and LTS releases, moving forward.

What’s an LTS Release?

If you’ve been a Notecard customer for a while now, you are likely aware that we’ve been doing quarterly developer firmware updates since early 2021. These releases, as the name suggests, are meant for testing new Notecard features and functionality during the early Prototype and Pilot phases of your project. We strive to be a developer-driven company, so it’s not uncommon for us to expand the feature-set of the Notecard based on feedback and requests from customers building real applications.

For our scaling customers, however, we’ve intended from day one to provide a stable, unchanging version of the Notecard firmware. These applications are often feature complete and ready for the field, and do not need new features, or the risk associated with incorporating updated firmware into their application. LTS releases address this problem by supplying stable and consistent behavior that customers can bet on for field deployments.

LTS releases are feature-frozen, meaning that they do not receive new features, API changes, or any functionality that modifies the documented behavior of the device. They do, however, benefit from an extended support window in which Blues will address critical OTA vulnerabilities for a period of 10 years from the date of initial release, meaning you can rest easy knowing that your mission-critical devices are covered. For more information about the scope of LTS support, reach out to the Blues sales team at support@blues.com.

How do I spot an LTS Release?

We’ve chosen to adopt a firmware version numbering scheme inspired by the LTS practices employed for NodeJS. Namely, we’re adopting an even and odd major version numbering scheme to delineate between our LTS and Developer releases.

LTS releases will always start with an even number, and we will increase the minor or patch version numbers in the event fixes from a newer release need to be back-ported to an earlier LTS. For example, 2.1.1, which is the version we are releasing to the public today, is our first LTS version. If, in the support period, we identify a need to back-port a critical vulnerability, we would release a new LTS version on this line with a new minor or patch number, for example 2.2.1.

Likewise, Developer releases will always start with an odd number, and we will increase the minor or patch version numbers as we cut updated Developer firmware releases throughout the year. For example, the next developer firmware release, which is planned for January of 2022, will be version 3.1.1.

To put these version numbers and what they mean into more context, here’s our planned release schedule for 2022, starting with a January developer release, and ending in November with the next LTS release.

  • Jan 2022 – Developer Release 3.1.1
    • LTS Update 2.2.1 (If Necessary)
  • April 2022 – Developer Release 3.2.1
    • LTS Update 2.3.1 (If Necessary)
  • July 2022 – Developer Release 3.3.1
    • LTS Update 2.4.1 (If Necessary)
  • October 2022 – Developer Release 3.4.1
    • LTS Release Candidate for 4.1.1
  • November 2022 – LTS Release 4.1.1

How do I update my firmware to an LTS release?

The process of updating your Notecards to an LTS release is the same as what’s supported for Developer firmware releases today. You can use Notehub.io to perform OTA firmware updates to one or more devices or do an offline update via a USB connection to a computer. Both approaches are documented in more detail at dev.blues.io.

It’s been an exciting, busy year for all of us here at Blues, but we’re grateful that so many customers have joined us in our mission of simplifying cellular IoT over the last year. And now, with an LTS policy and support in place, we can’t wait to see what you deploy next year.

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