Red Hat Ships Next Generation Of Its Flagship Linux OS

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The new product, in beta testing since spring, offers more than 1,800 enhancements covering such areas as security, scheduling, power management, resource and system management, and multi-tenancy. The system also is more scalable because of performance improvements to the operating system kernal and the kernal-based virtual machine (KVM).

Red Hat is pitching Linux as an alternative to Microsoft Windows Server, as well as a migration option for systems running on legacy Unix software. "There's two commercial operating systems in the enterprise space today, Linux and Windows," said Paul Cormier, Red Hat executive vice president and president of the company's products and technologies group, in a Web broadcast Wednesday about RHEL 6.

Linux has moved from "the edges" of customers' IT environments "to the point now where we go straight to the heart of the data center," Cormier said. "We want to drive Linux deeper into every single IT organization. We feel we've only scratched the surface with that. We think this is a great release and it's a great product to erode the Microsoft Windows Server ecosystem."

RHEL 6 sports 1,821 new features and enhancements requested from customers and partners, and the release resolves 14,631 bugs and other issues discovered by partners, customers and the Red Hat Linux community, said Jim Totton, vice president and general manager of Red Hat's platform business unit, during the Web presentation.

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In September, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison criticized Red Hat, saying the company was slow to correct bugs and incorporate enhancements from the Linux community. He also said Red Hat did not enhance its version of Linux often enough to make it capable of running high-performance computing systems. That led to Oracle's decision to develop a version of Linux with two kernals, one compatible with Red Hat Linux and the other Oracle's own Unbreakable Enterprise Kernal.

While that could create a fork in Linux compatibility, Cormier said Wednesday that the issue of multiple Linux kernals was "irrelevant." During the Web broadcast a slide displaying the names of partners who worked with Red Hat in developing RHEL 6 included Oracle.

Topping the list of enhancements to the Red Hat system are technology additions that improve the software's performance and scalability: Totton said RHEL can support systems with up to 4,000 processors, 16 Tbytes of memory, and 100-Tbyte file systems.

The software also includes new capabilities for power management and minimizing an IT system's environmental impact.