Red Hat pops up with new Linux kernel

Red Hat Linux 7.1, released last month, is vastly improved and exceeds the capabilities of Red Hat 7.0, according to one analyst, but that does not mean all is well.

Stacey Quandt, associate analyst, Linux and open source operating systems for Giga Information Group in Santa Clara, Calif., added that although there are clear performance advantages for corporations to deploy Red Hat 7.1, the fact that it does not follow the recommendations of the Linux Development Platform Specification means that a major barrier still exists for independent software vendors (ISVs) to have a common Linux platform to port to.

Marty Wesley, product manager for Red Hat Linux, said this is an issue that has become overblown.

“Some of the proposals placed on the table about the Linux Standard Board (LSB) are absolutely necessary and we are adhering to them as much as possible,” Wesley said. “Some of the other ones are really an attempt to completely remove any type of differentiation from Linux. Right now you have selection in Linux. Full LSB compliance would eliminate any kind of differentiation whatsoever and I think that would ultimately be a bad thing.”

Quandtnoted that there are reasons to upgrade to 7.1, namely the addition of the 2.4 kernel.

According to Red Hat, the 2.4 kernel offers improved SMP support for better performance on Intel multiprocessor platforms.

“The 2.4 kernel is the key feature in this release,” said Marty Wesley, product manager for Red Hat Linux. “With 2.4 you can address 64GB of memory. Also, the 2.4 kernel has been re-architected and optimized for multi-processor machines. What that means is if you have a machine with eight processors, you are going to be able to utilize all eight more efficiently and you are going to get more work out of all eight.”

Wesley also added that Linux 7.1 with 2.4 kernel has boosted security measures. He said the release comes with enhanced firewalling capabilities as well as secure default settings that keep ports closed and Internet utilities inactive until they are needed. He also reported that 7.1 comes with Red Hat Network Software Manager, which automatically alerts users if new errata and RPM updates.

“Where this is going to be pushing into is the real proprietary Unix space, the Sun Solaris, the HP UX and the AIX (spaces),” Wesley said. “It is simply because you are going to get the same performance, the same scalability and the same reliability but you are going to get it at a better value and a more open and free environment. (7.1) really gives the IT manager a lot of freedom.”

Red Hat Linux 7.1 with 2.4 kernel is available now in three versions. The Standard version, priced at US$39.95 comes with the full operating system but has minimal documentation in printed form and limited support. Deluxe Workstation, priced at US$79.95 comes with the full operating system plus workstation-focused applications. The Professional Server version, priced at US$179.95 is the complete operating system plus a set of server applications.

Quandt said the new functionality supported by the Linux 2.4 kernel, coupled with commodity hardware should be a design consideration for users seeking improved scalability and front-end server consolidation.

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