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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.5 Beta Released As V5 Prepped For Launch

With Enterprise Linux 5 set to ship in March, Red Hat has put into beta testing an update for Enterprise Linux 4 that makes it virtualization-friendly.

Linux

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 Update 5, which moved into beta testing on Feb 26, is now supported as a paravirtualized guest on x86 and x64 platforms, according to the beta documentation released this week.

The version 4.5 update includes changes to the kernel that will enable customers to run current RHEL 4 workloads efficiently on RHEL 5, the first Linux distribution from the company that will host virtualization.

One source close to Red Hat said version 4 guests won't run fully virtualized on version 5 because there would be performance bottlenecks. Instead, guests will be paravirtualized, he said. That ensures they will perform well but requires the kernel to be modified, as in version 4.5.

"What we are doing for RHEL4 is to provide a modified kernel, which will allow it to run as a paravirtualized guest," said the source, who requested anonymity. "We're doing this because the performance gains make it worthwhile. We are not modifying RHEL4 to allow it to be a host."

Like rival Novell's SUSE Enterprise Linux 4, which shipped last summer, RHEL 5 integrates Xen virtualization. Beta testers said Red Hat isn't backporting all the virtualization capabilities into RHEL 4 but releasing a RHELv4 kernel that can be run as a virtual machine or a guest in RHEL 5.

The RHEL 4.5 update will be in beta testing until March 21, according to the beta documentation. Partners said it will make the migration to the new platform easier.

"Since they have such a large customer base on 4.x, the transition to 5 must be easy for customers new and old. By providing this feature, it enables them to show customers a new feature with the release," said Frank Basanta, director of technology at Systems Solutions, New York.

RHEL 4.5 also contains new support for quad-core processors, webcams, Infiniband OFED 1, Intel's ICH 9 chipsets and the technology preview of OpenOffice 2.0.

Another beta tester said the Xen paravirtualized kernels for x86/x86-64 are significant because they will "allow for testing of third-party vendors in a virtual environment, since it is known that some products will not be supported in RHEL 5."

RHEL 4.5 also includes security updates, bug fixes and a new iSeries Access for Linux feature that enables access to IBM DB2 UDB for iSeries servers.

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