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Red Hat unveils 10-year support plan

Feb 1, 2012 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 10 views

Red Hat has extended the life cycle of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 and 6 from seven to 10 years. Meanwhile Linux kernel insider Greg Kroah-Hartman has left Red Hat rival SUSE to join the Linux Foundation as a new fellow, where he joins a select group that includes Linux creator Linus Torvalds.

Red Hat announced it has extended the production life cycle of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 and 6 from seven to 10 years, as reported by our sister publication eWEEK. With the extension, RHEL 5 support will be carried through 2017, and RHEL 6 users are supported through 2020. 

The new plan was implemented due to high customer demand, said Red Hat. As Joe Brockmeier explains on ReadWriteWeb, "Many of the customers adopting RHEL 5 were doing so mid-cycle, and were looking at dealing with upgrades sooner than what's desirable."

Red Hat laid out a plan in which it offers services for each major Red Hat release throughout four life cycle phases: Production 1, 2, and 3, plus an Extended Life Phase. RHEL 5 and 6 are offered with 10 years of Production Phase support, followed by a three-year Extended Life Phase. The life cycle phases are designed to reduce the level of change within each major release over time and make release availability and content more predictable, the company said.

Red Hat goes on to explain how individual updates known as "errata advisories" will be released through sources including the Red Hat Customer Portal, either individually "as-needed" or aggregated as a minor release. Errata advisories, which are classified as security fixes, bug fixes, or feature enhancements, are tested and qualified against the respective, active major releases of RHEL, says the company. All released errata advisories are said to remain accessible to active subscribers for the entire RHEL lifecycle.

Stated Jim Totton, vice president and general manager of the Platform Business Unit of Red Hat, "Enterprise customers require flexibility when planning strategic, long-term technology deployments. With a ten-year life cycle, customers now have additional choices when planning their Red Hat Enterprise Linux deployment and overall IT strategy."

 Kroah-Hartman joins LF as fellow

One of the top Linux kernel maintainers has been selected to join a small group of Linux Foundation poobahs known as fellows. Greg Kroah-Hartman (pictured) will leave Attachmate's SUSE business unit, which develops RHEL rival SUSE Linux Enterprise, to adopt his new duties as a fellow.

Kroah-Hartman, who also held the role of a fellow at SUSE, will continue his work as the maintainer for the Linux stable kernel branch and a variety of subsystems, as detailed in this second eWEEK report. As a fellow, Kroah-Hartman will also work more closely with Linux Foundation (LF) members, workgroups, Labs projects, and staff on key initiatives to advance Linux, says the nonprofit foundation.

The Linux kernel project, which is overseen by Linus Torvalds under the auspices of the LF, counts on big technology corporations like SUSE and Red Hat to contribute expertise and code to the Linux kernel. However, when the demand for contributed labor outstrips supply — especially at the high level provided by talent such as Kroah-Hartman — the Fellowship program helps fill those gaps via financial support to software developers working on Linux and open source projects.

The LF works with users, vendors, and developers to identify where additional work or resources could accelerate development, says the foundation. Kroah-Hartman, also known as Greg KH, created and maintains the Linux Driver Project, and is the maintainer for the Linux stable kernel branch (and subsystems including USB, staging, driver core, tty, and sysfs). He's also an adviser to Oregon State University's Open Source Lab and a member of The LF's Technical Advisory Board.

An author of two books covering Linux device drivers and kernel development, Kroah-Hartman is a regular speaker at industry events such as LinuxCon.

In Feb. 2010, Kroah-Hartman attracted some attention when he played the "bad cop" in announcing he had removed Google's Android driver code from Linux kernel 2.6.33. (In this case, the "good cop" was Linux creator Linus Torvalds, who around the same time revealed he was very happy with his new Android phone.)

The code was said to have been excised because the Linux-based Android platform has become incompatible with the project's main tree, a distancing some have referred to as a fork. Underlying the continuing tension between the Linux and Android camps has been Google's somewhat lackadaisical effort at contributing updated Android code back to the kernel.

More recently, Kroah-Hartman has been known as a leader of the Long Term Support Initiative (LTSI) project created by its Consumer Electronics (CE) workgroup, intended to reduce duplication of effort in maintaining private industry Linux kernel trees.

In addition to Kroah-Hartman, the Linux Foundation fellows currently include Torvalds, Till Kamppeter, Janina Sajka, and OpenEmbedded developer/Yocto Project maintainer Richard Purdie, who was selected for the role in Dec. 2010. Previous fellows have included Steve Hemminger, Andrew Morton, Andrew Tridgell, and Ted Ts'o.

Stated Kroah-Hartman, "I'm excited to continue my work on the Linux kernel alongside the best developers in the world and to increase collaboration among Linux Foundation members and kernel developers."

Stated Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation, "Greg is among the world's most talented software developers and is providing unmatched contributions to the advancement of Linux."

Eric Brown can be reached at [email protected].

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