Buoyant Enterprise for Linkerd requires a valid license key to run. You can get a license key for free from the Buoyant portal.

Every license key has an expiration date—by default a year. When it expires, BEL will enter the grace period. After expiration, the Linkerd control plane and proxies will continue to run as normal. However, the control plane as well as linkerd check will print a warning that the license has expired, and the lifecycle automation operator will no longer upgrade or install Linkerd.

All Linkerd development happens “on main”: all changes, whether in support of upcoming new features, refactors, bug fixes, or something else, land on the main branch where they are merged together.

In addition to our stable releases, we also publish Linkerd edge releases. These contain the latest code in from the main branch at the point in time when they were cut. This means they have the latest features and fixes, but it also means they don’t have stability guarantees. Upgrading between edge releases may involve breaking changes, and may involve partial features that are later modified or backed out.

Our BEL stable releases are designed to introduce minimal change to an existing system and come with documented stability guarantees. In stable releases, we take the specific bug fix changes (or, occasionally, feature additions) and backport these changes against the code in the previous stable version. This minimizes the overall delta between releases. We also do any additional work required to ensure that upgrades and rollbacks between stable releases are seamless and contain no breaking changes.

In short: edge releases optimize for being on the bleeding edge; stable releases optimize for stability and minimal change.