GIT – Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), the Linux vendor’s core platform, had its last major release with the debut of RHEL 6 in November of 2010. Red Hat has been releasing major new RHEL platforms every two to three years, and at its 2012 Summit event the company had hinted that 2013 could be the year in which RHEL 7 might be released.
As it turns out, the exact timing for the general availability of RHEL 7 is still in question. Ronald Pacheco, Senior Manager, Technology Product Management at Red Hat, said that his company has been working on RHEL 7 for a long time.
He stressed that RHEL 6 and 5 are still strong platforms and are being updated and iterated. RHEL 6.4 for example was recently released, providing new Microsoft interoperability capabilities.
That said, Paccheco realizes that there are a lot of questions around RHEL 7 and its availability.
“The plans are to put out a beta at the end of the calendar year,” Paccheco said.
In terms of features, RHEL 7 will mark a departure on a number of fronts from previous Red Hat releases.
Ric Wheeler, Kernel File and Storage Team Senior Manager and Architect at Red Hat, told the capacity crowd that the XFS filesystem will be the new default in RHEL 7 instead of EXT4.
Previously there had been some discussion that perhaps the Btrfs filesystem could play a big role in the upcoming Linux release, though Wheeler said the plan is now to make sure that Btrfs is in shape so it can be included as an option.
From a Linux kernel perspective, Wheeler hinted that from a timing perspective the Linux 3.11 kernel is likely the one that would power RHEL 7. The most recent generally available kernel right now in the upstream Linux community is Linux 3.9, with 3.10 set to debut in the coming weeks.
From a hardware enablement perspective, Peter Martuccelli, Senior Engineering Manager for Platform Enablement at Red Hat, said that RHEL 7 will support UEFI and Secure Boot.
RHEL 7 will also include the Hardware Error Reporting Mechanism [HERM], which aims to improves server logging mechanisms by integration with various hardware error input methods.
One of the biggest areas of improvement in RHEL 7 is likely to be networking services.
Rashid Kahn, Senior Engineering Manager for networking services at Red Hat, joked with the audience that from his perspective RHEL 7 is in fact, “all about networking.”
One of the major new improvements is the addition of the Team Driver. Kahn explained that the driver combines multiple networking interfaces into a single interface. The goal of the driver is to provide improved throughput, networking redundancy and easier management.
The Precision Time Protocol (PTP) will also land in RHEL 7. PTP was available as a technology preview in RHEL 6.4 and is expected to be fully supported in RHEL 6.5.
“If time is money, you might want to try PTP precision time protocol,” Kahn said.
PTP can have a use-case in high-frequency trading as it ensures precise sub microsecond synchronization of distributed clocks over the network.
The other big addition set to land in RHEL 7 is the inclusion of Open vSwitch support. Open vSwitch is an open source virtual switch that initially became available in the upstream Linux kernel with the Linux 3.3 release in March of 2012.
Kahn said that Open vSwitch will be a tech preview in RHEL 6.5 and will be fully supported in RHEL 7.
Red Hat is now working on building Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 (RHEL 7), which will include a long list of changes, among them a new Linux desktop. RHEL 7 will include a GNOME Classic mode that will be based on the newer GNOME 3 desktop, but with a familiar ‘classic’ interface.
While RHEL is often thought of purely as a server operating system, Dumas noted that it is often deployed as a desktop by Red Hat customers.
As customers wait for the latest updates in the upcoming RHEL 7 release, there is also demand from some customers for the latest versions of certain packages.
“Our problem with RHEL is that it’s a little bit schitzo,” Dumas said.
She noted that there is a section of the RHEL customer base that wants a stable, solid platform where interfaces don’t change. Then there are also those that desire the stability while also wanting the latest packages for certain applications and languages.
That’s where the Red Hat Software Collections come into play. The Software Collections are alternative packages for RHEL users that provide newer versions of software.
Among the pieces of software that will be part of the Software Collection is the open source MariaDB database. MariaDB is a fork of the Oracle-owned MySQL database, and is led by the original founder of MySQL, Monty Widenius.
As part of the Software Collection, Red Hat customers will get three years of support for MariaDB.
The Software Collections, of which MariaDB is a part, install on top of the existing RHEL 6.x release cycle.
“We’re going to be at the base of everything that Red Hat does,” Dumas said. “Clearly there is a lot of innovation going on around us and we’ve got a lot of challenges, and we need to make sure that we’re able to deliver things at the right cadence.”