Red Hat has made available the latest major release of its enterprise Linux distribution, which it touts as raising the bar for enterprise IT infrastructure with greater integration with Active Directory, support for file systems up to 500TB with XFS, and improved support for Linux Containers and Docker technology.
Generally available from today, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7 redefines the enterprise operating system with a great many enhancements and new capabilities, Red Hat said.
The platform has been available as a beta release since last December, and has been polished through a "high touch" programme with just a few select customers.
This release addresses three main areas; flexibility, stability and reliability for mission-critical services, according to Mark Coggin, Red Hat's senior director for product marketing.
"We believe that the new set of capabilities with RHEL 7 really do dramatically improve the experience of the customer on many levels, on the agility and flexibility level but also still paying attention to making sure the daily life of the system administrator and infrastructure team is improved through easier management, deployment and performance tuning," Coggin told V3.
RHEL 7 also inlcudes the capabilities needed to deploy across bare metal, virtual machines, and cloud infrastructure, according to Red Hat. Unlike Canonical's Ubuntu, however, Red Hat appears to be keeping a separate Linux distribution from its OpenStack offering.
On the flexibility side, RHEL 7 will have better support for containers through inclusion and official Red Hat support of the Docker project, allowing customers to deploy and operate Linux containers in the Docker format on RHEL 7 infrastructure.
However, the stripped-down version of RHEL that Red Hat is developing as an optimised container host platform under the codename Project Atomic is not being delivered as part of this release. It is still in beta and will be released at a later date, Coggin said.
RHEL 7 will also interoperate with Windows-based infrastructure through better integration with Active Directory. This is achieved through the System Security Services Daemon (SSSD), which automatically authenticates users logged into a RHEL server with the Active Directory domain controller.
The default file system has now changed to XFS, which enables customers to support configurations with file systems up to 500TB in size. The ext4 file system used in RHEL 6 is still supported, offering users greater flexibility.
"The flexibility comes from the size and scalability of the file system we're offering with XFS, and also the fact that we are also offering multiple file systems that the customer can choose from," Coggin said.
On the reliability side, RHEL 7 now supports the Open Linux Management Infrastructure (OpenLMI) for system configuration and control.
"This is a new management framework that we have essentially led development of. It's a unified tool that enables you to install agents on your systems that manage very granular sets of services like networking, security and storage, and from that you can interface back via a set of standard APIs to a third-party management system or a tool you may have written yourself," Coggin explained.
Other new features include the systemd system management daemon, which gives the administrator a lot more flexibility in customising and optimising the boot sequence. This will be compatible with existing System V and LSB init scripts, according to Coggin.
There is also a new installer called Anaconda that enables users to maintain pre-configured profiles that new server instances can be based on, plus additional performance management and monitoring tools such as Thermostat and Performance Co-Pilot (PCP).
RHEL 7 is the first major release of the platform since RHEL 6 shipped in November 2010. As with that version, Red Hat offers a 10-year lifecycle with maintenance and bug-fixes, plus a commitment to API and application binary stability for the duration of the lifecycle.
"What this means is that if a customer is running RHEL 6.3 and we bring out RHEL 6.4, they can update to 6.4 without disrupting the platform or the application running on top of it," Coggin said.
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