New Enhancements for Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Though the next major release of Red Hat’s flagship Enterprise Linux is still likely more than a year away, Red Hat continues to offer incremental updates, with the latest delivering new features and support for both server and desktop users.

The Red Hat 5.2 release comes on the heels of the company’s NYSE Linux win as the open source vendor continues to ramp up its offerings while striving to make good on a promise to become the first Linux vendor to hit $1 billion in revenue.

“From a functionally point of view, changes in 5.2 are not as big as 5.1, though it’s more change in the total release — it’s more detailed optimization and more hardware enablement,” Daniel Riek, product marketing manager for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, told

On the virtualization front, RHEL 5.2 now provides support for virtualization on very large systems of up to 512 GB of memory and 64 CPUs. Virtualization power management is also a key part of the 5.2 release, with the ability to scale CPU frequency.

Riek explained that the virtualization power management capability provides support to scale the processor frequency depending on the load on the system. The new virtualization capability is a back port from the upstream open source Xen community. RHEL uses Xen as its virtualization hypervisor technology.

On the security side, RHEL 5.2 includes new enhancements to enable better support of hardware-based encryption solutions.

“In the past, you had drivers for encryption hardware that would just pass through the interface, and then an application like Apache (define) could use it,” Riek said. “Now, we have a driver interface that can make the kernel itself use the encryption hardware. That is important for disk encryption and government deployments.”

RHEL 5.2 also includes a new logging capability that Riek expects will be a major benefit for third-party threat analysis engines. The new rsyslog daemon provides a real-time interface to get log and audit information to tools that do online analysis for threats.

Red Hat is also updating its Enterprise Desktop offering to version 5.2, providing enhanced support and new software for users. Among the enhancements are better suspend, hibernate and resume functionality for notebook users, as well as updated drivers.

“The Linux desktop in general is growing and that’s reflecting in the requests we are seeing,” Riek said. “We have requests from large organizations that are looking to standardize on the Linux desktop.”

To meet what it says is growing enterprise demands for the Linux desktop, Red Hat is providing quicker updates on applications. In particular, Riek noted that RHEL Desktop 5.2 includes Firefox 3, which is currently only at the release candidate stage.

Riek explained that customers had asked for Firefox 3, and that the app went through Red Hat’s quality assurance to make sure it didn’t pose any problems in its unfinished form.

Though ensuring RHEL has the latest and greatest software is important for Red Hat when it comes to the desktop, the hardware on which its desktop offerings run remains a larger concern for the company.

“The challenge we are seeing on the desktop is really enabling the hardware,” Riek said.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 debuted in March of 2007. The next RHEL 5 update is expected in January 2009.

Article courtesy of

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