Red Hat has released new beta versions of its enterprise and desktop Linux products, with improvements including better virtualisation and clustering features, to make the operating system a more stable platform for server farms.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.2 beta upgrades the core virtualisation hypervisor, Xen, to Xen 3.1.2, and allows support for up to 64 processors per system and up to 512GB of memory per server. The Numa (non-uniform memory access) interface has also been improved.
In the past, rival Novell has criticised Red Hat's slow implementation of Xen, the open-source hypervisor that both Novell and Red Hard have contributed to, and Red Hat has apparently toyed with the idea of moving to the alternative KVM hypervisor, which it supports in its Fedora operating system, according to remarks made at a launch of virtualisation features in November.
Red Hat has also improved clustering, with applications failover improved, and has increased support for IPv6, with the inclusion of DHCP 6, for better LAN and WAN support.
The desktop has been spruced up with the newest versions of all the major open-source applications, including Firefox, Evolution, OpenOffice and Thunderbird, along with improved support for laptop suspend and better graphic drivers. "Red Hat is getting ready to 're-base' its desktop applications," said eWeek's Steven Vaughn-Nichols, who noted the company's desktop plans, including support for Microsoft proprietary media formats, "seem to have hit a dead end."
The RHEL beta is available in the plain form as well as the "advanced platform" version for AMD, Intel 64 and Itanium, and for IBM's S/390 mainframes, System p and System z platforms. Meanwhile the RHEL desktop beta is available for x86 and AMD64 and Intel 64. More details can be found at the Red Hat site.
Red Hat said it welcomes users downloading the beta for their test systems but warned that RHEL 5.2 should not be considered suitable for production systems yet.