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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Officially Released

Anticipation, It's Making Me Wait

  • November 10, 2010
  • By Sean Michael Kerner
Sean Michael Kerner

Some updates take longer than others.

Linux vendor Red Hat (NYSE:RHAT) today officially released Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 (RHEL 6). The new RHEL 6 operating system includes new Linux kernel, scalability, virtualization and performance improvements over its predecessors.

"RHEL 6 is not a point of a new product," Paul Cormier executive vice president, engineering at Red Hat said during the RHEL 6 launch event. "This is the culmination of 10 years of development, learning and partnering to get to the point now where we feel that RHEL 6 is at the heart of the data center."

RHEL 6 is the first major version update to Red Hat's flagship Linux platform in three years. RHEL 5 debuted in 2007 and has since been updated with five point releases, with a sixth currently in beta.

Among the highlighted capabilities in RHEL 6 is the ability for massive scalability. According to Red Hat, new NUMA (non-uniform memory access) awareness gives RHEL 6 increased performance. Memory addressability is another area of key improvement. RHEL 6 is able to handle up to 16 Terabytes of memory, which is more than any single server system currently enables. The new Linux release can also scale to support up to 4,000 processors, providing further power for Red Hat users.

Controlling all that power is another area of improvement in RHEL 6. A new feature called 'control groups' is included which provides for fine grain resource control.

"So when you have many things running on RHEL 6, whether it's multi-tenancy for cloud computing or it's multiple workloads that have been consolidated, you can build policy based controls around how much of the CPU, how much memory, disk or networking resources will be committed to each of the workloads running the servers," Jim Totten, general manager and vice president platform business unit at Red Hat said.

The first public beta of RHEL 6 debuted in April. The actual Linux kernel used in RHEL 6 is a hybrid of sorts. Back in May, Tim Burke, vice president of platform engineering at Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), told InternetNews.com that RHEL 6 has elements multiple Linux kernels.

"I don't think there is a kernel race," Cormier said during the RHEL 6 launch event. Linux is well beyond what version of the kernel and what version of DNS and SMTP is part of the operating system. "

Cormier added that power consumption has improved in Red Hat as they continue to innovate even between major releases. In the RHEL 5.5 release power consumption was improved by 20 percent and in RHEL 6 power consumption is being improved by a further 20 percent.

"We innovate along the way," Cormier said. "The kernel that is in RHEL 5.5 was an older kernel, but one of the things that our engineers do that make this really consumable to the enterprise, is that we innovate while keeping it stable. Talking about the versions of the components that are in there, that was Linux 10 years ago, we're way beyond that with our enterprise customer base now."

RHEL 6 isn't about being the bleeding edge of Linux technology either. The focus for Red Hat is on enterprise hardening for stability and long-term security.Tim Burke, vice president of platform engineering at Red Hat noted that since the RHEL 6 beta release in the spring, there have been thousands of bug fixes made.

"It's pretty ironic that even though Red Hat is the leading innovator, we're rarely the first to ship something," Burke said. "That's because we don't ship it until it's done right. It has really taken us this time to get RHEL 6 ready to meet the demanding workloads of our customers."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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