Red Hat Software has produced a new version of its Linux distribution, bolstering the free operating system's appeal to large companies.
Red Hat Linux 5.1 was launched yesterday, offering a more user-friendly installation procedure designed to encourage non-Unix users to migrate.
In a further boost, Sun has joined the board of Linux International (LI), the organisation dedicated to promoting the free Unix variant.
Sun's plan is not to bundle Linux with its SPARC machines, even though a Linux port exists, nor to support end-users directly. It will, however, support vendors such as Red Hat, Caldera and Debian, who package Linux into commercial distributions, thus indirectly boosting sales of its machines and offering another alternative to Windows NT.
Linux developers are currently working on an UltraSPARC port of Linux, codenamed "UltraPenguin", which Sun has acknowledged as one of the reasons it has decided to join Linux International.
A Sun spokeswoman said that Sun has "no plans to sell machines without a Solaris licence", but agreed that the move would strengthen both Linux's case and the case against Microsoft's domination of the market. "First and foremost, Sun sees joining LI as an opportunity to foster further innovation in the Unix space," she said. "In addition, we support all efforts to increase the exposure to Unix in all areas, especially the educational and research environments."
Red Hat Linux 5.1's improvements are focused around the installation routine, which now includes multilingual support, "back" buttons to allow users to correct mistakes made during the installation process, DHCP support for Windows NT networks, and boot disk and rescue disk creation.
System configuration has been beefed up, with all configuration tools located in the same place, and four interface options including a browser-based one for remote configuration.
The Windows Manager has been impoved, and a new compiler included that offers enhanced C++ support and true Fortran 77 support. Two graphics utilities are included, Electric Eyes and a new version of The Gimp, and other bundled applications include BRU backup software and RealNetworks' RealSystem 5 Player, Encoder and Basic Server.
The package includes a full Installation Guide, boot diskette, and 90 days of installation support via Email or fax. Red Hat Linux 5.1 costs $49.95 (#30.64).
- See opinion, page 41.
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