Red Hat next week will offer a release candidate of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) 7 with myriad improvements in areas ranging from containers to the kernel. RHEL 7 has been available as a beta release since December.
General availability is expected to follow the release candidate "real soon now," said Denise Dumas, Red Hat senior director of platform engineering. "We'll see what people say as they pick it up and start running it. Somebody could find something that's really truly scary that we don't know about. I doubt it because we really kicked the stuffing out of it."
RHEL 7 is drawing good reviews from beta testers. "I'm going to encourage people to go to [RHEL] 7," said beta tester Micheal Waltz, a senior systems engineer at Qualcomm. "It's up to the app people, I guess, what they want to do, but I think there's a lot of good things that come when you upgrade to 7."
"The one thing that was nice about the Kerberos implementation in RHEL 7 was it was the first one that we didn't have to patch," said RHEL 7 beta tester Nathan Thaler, team leader for enterprise system administration at MIT.
Red Hat officials at the Red Hat Summit conference in San Francisco this week went over a long list of improvements planned for RHEL 7. Linux containers, providing a secure environment to run applications, are fully supported, and core capabilities include resource management, process isolation, security, and tooling/CLI (command-line interface). Overall management is provided by Docker CLI.
In the kernel, RHEL 7 supports new 64-bit architectures, including Intel X-86_64, Power, and s390. A dynamic ticking capability will lower the number of interrupts inside the kernel, getting CPU cycles back to the user space, and Open vSwitch 2.0 capabilities will accommodate traffic flow between virtual machines. The default file system in version 7 will be XFS, providing a 64-bit journaling file system. It's included at no additional charge and replaces the ext4 file system. RHEL 7 features server-side NFS 4.1 support, with MariaDB as the primary database and support for PostgreSQL 9.2 as well.
In the security space, SCAP (Security Content Automation Protocol) support, providing an automated approach to verifying security guidelines, has been integrated with Red Hat's Anaconda program installer. Even more important, RHEL 7 will offer interoperability and integration with Microsoft Active Directory. This pleased conference attendee Bob Brown, IT systems engineer at services company Robert Half, which has Linux and Windows in its network. "I'm waiting for AD integration, really," he said. "We've needed it for a long time."
RHEL 7 offers performance improvements for KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) and boosts support for Wacom tablets. Red Hat also is committed to providing a build of the Chromium open source browser to maintain support of Google Chrome.
Red Hat is already thinking about Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 and is looking to the Fedora open source Linux project for guidance. "It's going to take us a few years to put it together," Dumas said. "The way that we typically do RHEL releases is we take three, four generations of Fedora releases, and we experiment release by release." The future of RHEL will involve the evolution of the kernel, packaging changes, continuous integration, and container management improvements.
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