Red Hat is pushing out the first public beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, an upgrade to its operating system that includes virtualisation technologies intended to help companies get more from their hardware.
The company says it will ship the final version of the product by year’s end, although it’s unclear now whether it will meet that target. RHEL 5 Beta 1, released in the second week of September, was originally due to ship in July.
Release of the beta slipped because the company decided to wait for a later version of the Linux kernel (2.6.18) to be finalised, according to Joel Berman, product management director for RHEL. He says it wasn’t due to a memory management issue, as has been rumoured, although there may have been a few memory bugs, as well.
The final product will ship around the end of the year, “maybe a month before or after”, he said. A second beta will be released before that, probably in about a month.
The beta is aimed primarily at existing Red Hat Network subscribers and is for testing purposes. It’s not intended for production use. Red Hat is asking for feedback, in particular about how it is implementing the open-source Xen virtualisation technology, which allows companies to run multiple operating systems on a server at the same time.
Red Hat has developed its own Xen management tools for installing guest servers and other tasks. Today the tools are only for the Xen hypervisor, but the company is backing an open source project called libvert that could lead to tools for managing other virtualisation environments as well, such as VMware.
While much has been made of the virtualisation technology, Red Hat is focusing a lot on improving security and features for developers as well, says Berman.
The version 5 beta include the disk dumping tool Kdump, which can shorten reboot times, as well as the SystemTap and Frysk analysis and development tools. It also includes a technical preview of what Red Hat calls its stateless Linux technology, which reduces dependencies on individual clients to makes it easier to reinstall a system image and a users files in the event of a system failure.
The capabilities are “important in bolstering Red Hat’s credibility as a heavy duty server OS”, says Gary Barnett, a software analyst with Ovum.