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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 touted for cloud features, energy efficiency

Nov 11, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Red Hat announced a major new Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6 release, adding cloud support, performance improvements, and energy savings. Meanwhile, Red Hat also released a RHEL 5.6 upgrade to its 5x platform, adding support for BIND 9.7, improved DNSsec, and PHP 5.3.

Red Hat launched Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 to great fanfare on Nov. 10, stressing performance, "green IT," and virtualization capabilities.

At the same time, the company announced RHEL 5.6, a minor upgrade to its 5.x platform, which it will continue to support for another seven years (see farther below). RHEL 6 and RHEL 5.6 update the February release of RHEL 5.5, which featured KVM virtualization improvements. The releases closely follow the Fedora 14 final, which launched last week from Red Hat's upstream, community-driven partner, the Fedora Project.

Emphasizing that this was not just a product release, RHEL 6 is the "culmination" of 10 years of learning and partnering," said Paul Cormier, Red Hat's executive vice president, and president of products and technologies, at the launch event, which was also webcast live.

Red Hat is going to play a key and instrumental role in shaping the tech landscape in the next 10 years, claimed Jim Totton, former Microsoft executive who joined Red Hat as vice-president of the platform business unit six months ago. Instead of just being a standalone server operating system, RHEL is a business operating system for both virtualization and the cloud, said Cormier.

Tottons says there are only two commercial operating systems in the enterprise — Windows and Linux. Red Hat's goal is to make Linux "even more broadly and deeply" deployed than ever, from the small to midsized companies to the enterprise, said Totton.

"We want to drive Linux deeper into every single IT organization. It is a great product to erode the Microsoft Server ecosystem," said Cormier. The development team included a lot of virtualization and cloud features. RHEL 6 was "built with the cloud in mind," said Cormier.

He claimed RHEL virtualized guests can reach 85 percent to 90 percent of the performance of running on native hardware, using a kernel-based virtual machine, which was first introduced in RHEL 5.4. Organizations can also run RHEL 5 guests on a RHEL 6 host, said Totton.

Red Hat continued its tradition of deploying one operating system across multiple architectures, instead of getting bogged down developing for one system or another, said Cormier. No matter where the operating system is, whether it's running in the data center, in the cloud, on bare metal servers, or on a virtual machine, RHEL 6 will deliver the same performance, which is a sign of "open source success," Cormier said.

Greener, fatter, and primed for Moore's Law

Red Hat engineers worked on kernel improvements and power management to make RHEL 6 power-efficient, to the tune of using 40 percent less electricity, said Totton. Some of these changes had been introduced in RHEL 5.4. With these changes in place, Red Hat engineers managed to squeeze out an additional 25 percent more energy efficiency in RHEL 6, he said.

According to Totton, the team contributed more than 3,500 changes to the Linux kernel. Totton and Cormier threw out some interesting numbers through the course of the event. RHEL 6 has more than 2,000 code packages and an 85 percent increase in the amount of code from RHEL 5, said Totton. While more lines of code don't necessarily translate into a better product, the sheer amount of choice available is staggering.

Red Hat also incorporated 1,821 customer-requested features and resolved over 14,000 bugs on its way to RHEL 6, said Totton. In fact, RHEL 6 represents more than 600 "person years" of work by Red Hat engineers, Totton said.

Citing Moore's Law, Red Hat claimed to have made the operating system future proof. It can support up to 16TB of memory architecturally, even though, as Totton noted, no physical system can actually run that much memory at this time. It has also been configured for 4,096 CPUs, and can support a 100TB file system under a single OS — another current impossibility.

Red Hat is currently benchmarking the performance of RHEL 6 as compared to Windows Server 2008, said Red Hat.

When asked whether Red Hat considered itself ahead of Oracle in the kernel race because of the improvements it's made, Cormier was visibly irritated, calling the question "irrelevant." Instead, he said "there is no kernel race. Linux is way beyond what version of kernel you are on, way beyond that," he said, noting that the technology roadmap was the important part.

RHEL 5.6 arrives, too

Just because RHEL 6 is out doesn't mean RHEL 5 is done, said Cormier during the Q&A session of the launch event. RHEL 5 was released in 2007. With Red Hat maintaining a ten year lifecycle for its products, the company has another seven years to work in more improvements and new features for RHEL 5, Cormier said.

In fact, Red Hat announced a beta of RHEL 5.6 just the day before, adding support for BIND 9.7, improved DNSsec support, PHP 5.3, the Ethernet layer firewall, and dropwatch network stack packet analysis.

Meanwhile, Red Hat is already looking ahead. The development project for RHEL 7 was formally kicked of this week, said Tim Burke, vice-president of Linux development. RHEL 7 will most likely focus on data center manageability, he said.

"But RHEL 6 is not over yet, just as 5 is not over. We have 10 more years of features coming," said Burke.


RHEL 6 and RHEL 5.6 are currently available under a variety of subscription options. More information may be found here.

Fahmida Rashid is a writer for our sister publication eWEEK.

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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