If you want to see the future of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), you need only no farther than Red Hat's community Linux distribution, Fedora. In its brand new release, Fedora 16, Verne, Fedora comes with multiple cloud and virtualization improvements.
Of course, what most Fedora users, as opposed to RHEL system administrators, will be interested in is that Fedora now supports GNOME 3.2 as its default desktop. Good luck with that. For me, GNOME 3.2, like GNOME 3.0 before it, is a failed interface. I'm not the only one who doesn't care for the GNOME 3.x line. Linus Torvalds, Linux's founder, finds GNOME 3.x unusable as well.
Fortunately, you're not stuck with GNOME 3.x. Fedora 16 also comes with the far superior KDE 4.7 interface. One area where both desktop Linux fans and system administrators may find equally interesting is that Fedora includes an advanced version of Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments (SPICE)-based virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).
While Red Hat doesn't plan on fighting it out with Ubuntu Unity or Windows 7 for the traditional desktops or Citrix or Microsoft on VDIs, you can use SPICE, which depends on server-based KVM (Kernel Virtual Machine), to run VDI thin-client desktops. SPICE's new features include USB port sharing between guest operating systems, and audio volume messages between guest and client.
In addition, Fedora now includes Virtual Machines Lock Manager to protect users from starting the same virtual machine twice or adding the same disk to two different virtual machines. It also now includes Virt-manager Guest Inspection. This allows read-only browsing of guest file-systems and the Windows Registry. Fedora also has better virtual networking support. Put it all together and you have everything you need for using Fedora as the basis for a thin-client desktop system.
On the cloud side, Fedora offers the following goodies:
- Aeolus, a cross-cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform, which consists of a web-based user interface and tools for managing cloud instances across heterogeneous clouds.
- OpenStack, another IaaS platform, which takes form as a collection of services for setting up and running a cloud compute and storage infrastructure.
- Pacemaker-cloud, which provides application service high availability for cloud environments.
- HekaFS, formerly CloudFS, is a cloud-ready version of GlusterFS, which extends the file-system to be suitable for deployment by a cloud provider by adding in stronger authentication and authorization, encryption, and multi-tenancy. GlusterFS, by the by, is being acquired by Red Hat.
When you look at all these improvements in Fedora's virtualization and cloud support, it's easy to see that when Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst recently told me that VMware, not Microsoft or Ubuntu, would Red Hat's biggest rival by 2016. The proof is in Fedora. RHEL is headed for an ever greater role as not just a leading server operating system, but as the foundation for virtual machines and clouds as well.