LineageOS 18.1 based on Android 11 is receiving its final build

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LineageOS, known for extending the life of older devices with its custom ROMs based on newer versions of Android, has announced Android 14-based LineageOS 21 with updated apps & other improvements. However, alongside offering builds with Android 14, LineageOS has now announced the sunset of its LineageOS 18.1 builds, which are based on Android 11. This decision comes as Google’s Android Security Bulletins (ASBs) for Android 11 have reached their final publication.

For those unfamiliar with the term, Android Security Bulletins are monthly device updates that contain details of security vulnerabilities affecting Android devices. They include fixes for possible issues, such as security patches, functional improvements

Google’s Android Security Bulletins (ASBs) for Android 11 have reached their final publication

Google releases monthly Android Security Bulletins to address known security vulnerabilities. It ensures the safety of an Android device up to some extent. The final ASB compatible with Android 11 was published on February 5, 2024.

As a result of the end of Google‘s ASB support for Android 11, LineageOS will also no longer be able to produce new official builds for supported devices properly. However, LineageOS confirms that the existing builds will remain available for users.

While it’s possible to backport security patches from newer Android versions to older ones like LineageOS 18.1, LineageOS has opted against this due to the complexity and risks involved with the process.

LineageOS emphasizes the difficulty and risk associated with backporting security patches

LineageOS emphasizes the difficulty in properly tracking changes across different Android versions when backporting security patches. Moreover, the project acknowledges the potential risk of introducing new vulnerabilities during the backporting process. Therefore, LineageOS has decided to discontinue official builds for LineageOS 18.1, ensuring that devices remain as secure as possible. However, as LineageOS notes, some independent developers will likely backport security patches to LineageOS 18.1. Nonetheless, LineageOS stays back for a reason and you should remain cautious and be aware of the potential outcomes if you decide to install one of those builds on your device.

For users of legacy devices, the end of LineageOS 18.1 official builds means that no further updates will be provided. A legacy device, as defined by LineageOS, lacks a proper, reasonably up-to-date in-kernel eBPF implementation. Devices with Linux kernel versions equal to or less than 3.18 fall into this category and lack eBPF entirely. For context, in-kernel eBPF was made a hard requirement in Android S, and by proxy LineageOS 19.1 when AOSP removed legacy iptables support.

While LineageOS will no longer produce official builds for Android 11-based LineageOS 18.1, existing builds will remain available for users.