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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.0--The Enterprise Gets An Update - page 3

Enterprise Linux and Red Hat

  • February 14, 2005
  • By Bill von Hagen

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 features a graphically updated version of the familiar Red Hat installation process consisting of two phases. In the first phase, you supply basic information about your system's location and nationalization, specify disk partitioning, select the basic type of installation that you want to perform and any additional packages that you want to install. In the second phase, you confirm the date and time, create user accounts, register with Red Hat Network in order to receive updates, and optionally install additional packages from CD #5, the Red Hat Extras CD. Figure 1 shows the Welcome screen from the RHEL AS 4.0 installer.

One exceptionally clever notion adopted from the Fedora Project is the use of logical volumes in RHEL's default disk partitioning suggestions. Figure 2 shows the default partitioning scheme proposed by the installer on a small system disk. I've appreciated this in Fedora, but it makes even more sense in enterprise deployments where disk space requirements almost always expand and downtime for adding disk space must be kept to a minimum. Using logical volumes by default makes it easy to bring down a system for scheduled maintenance, add new disk drives, and dynamically integrate the space that they provide once the system is running again. The alternative of manually cloning the contents of a partition to another and swapping the partitions during additional downtime is painfully primitive by comparison. More Linux distributions should take this enlightened, sysadmin-sensitive approach to default disk allocation and assignment.

Unlike the Red Hat N products of old, Red Hat EL AS doesn't provide a variety of default installation configurations, which is understandable because of its more focused audience. Your choices are to install the default set of packages or to customize the list of packages that you're installing. I typically do the latter and select "Everything" as my package list because disk space is much cheaper than my time when I find that I'm missing some package on my application server and have to hunt down the CDs, install and configure, and so on.

The Extras CD provided with Red Hat EL AS features an interesting choice of third-party packages divided into three sections--Java and Java Utilities, Multimedia, and Miscellaneous. Your Java choices consist of various selections that make up the IBM Runtime environment and Development kit and the BEA's WebLogic JRockit management console, plugins, and runtime. The Multimedia section contains Adobe Acrobat, Real's RealPlayer, and and Macromedia's Flash plugin. The Miscellaneous section contains Agfa Monotype fonts, the Citrix ICA client for Unix, firmware for the Intel 2100 and 2200 wireless adapters, and AT&T's Korn shell. Miscellaneous, indeed!

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