Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 beta now available

New features include expanded container support, performance profiles, and XFS as the default filesystem

Less than a month after the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5, the folks at Red hat have forged ahead with the next full point revision of RHEL, version 7.0, now available in its first public beta.

Aimed at "architects, system administrators, and dev-ops," RHEL 7's big selling points all tie into major trends in IT that were also singled out in 6.5. Most prominent is expanded support for Linux containers, which allow applications to be set up and run in isolation. If you're thinking Docker is one of the technologies in question, you're spot-on. It's not just because of Docker's exploding popularity generally, either, but because Red Hat itself lent a hand to Docker's revved-up 0.7 release. It only makes sense for it to become a broadly-supported technology in RHEL itself.

Another key addition is performance profiles -- a way to choose an automatic, self-tuning set of behaviors for RHEL. I asked Ron Pacheco, senior manager, platform product management at Red Hat, for some details on this, and he described how RHEL 7 will ship with two performance profiles created "for the most common workloads in RHEL 7." Those profiles are maximum performance ("where tuned profiles are aggregated with other instrumentation and performance monitoring tools") and balanced performance ("which provides a balance between performance and energy savings"); maximum performance is enabled by default.

Two other performance features Pacheco identified in RHEL 7, which appear to be derived from existing work on the Linux kernel, include "numabalance", which "enhances NUMA capabilities and provides automated balancing (effectively supplementing numad)." Another isa modification to the tickless kernel called "Full Dynamic Tick," which "significantly reduces the number of timer interrupts for computational intensive applications workloads such as HPC, KVM, desktop, and mobile apps."

One major change to 7, and one that might turn the heads of those using RHEL for storage management, is switching the default filesystem to XFS, with support for filesystems up to 500TB in size, increased from 100TB.

Red Hat, and Linux generally, have supported the industrial-strength XFS for some time now, and Red Hat mentioned back at its 2013 Red Hat Summit that XFS was -- in the words of Denise Dumas, director of software engineering at Red Hat -- "a better match for our enterprise customers than btrfs seems to be." It doesn't mean that support for ext3/4 or btrfs are being dropped, only that they're not the default choices.

Pachecho described the switch to XFS as a reflection of the way "customers are dealing with a data explosion." Such data growth "requires a scalable, performant filesystem, which is provided by XFS." The best migration path to XFS, he suggested, would be to back up existing data and restore it to XFS.

Other improvements and changes include:

  • cross-realm trust can be set up between RHEL and Microsoft Active Directory stores
  • hardware event reporting has been consolidated systemwide into a single mechanism, HERM
  • VMware guest integration has been bulked up to include Open VM Tools and support for 3D-accelerated graphics drivers
  • better random number generation for robust cryptography
  • OpenJDK (a Red Hat-led project) is now the default Java runtime

Beta downloads are currently only available for subscribers, but 30-day evaluation subscriptions are also available for those who want to give the beta a whirl.

This story, "Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Beta now available," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.


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