Here come the new Red Hat Enterprise Linux distros

Red Hat ups its security and developer game in its RHEL 8.7 and 9.1 betas.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
People walking by red hat on the wall.
Image: RedHat

Red Hat is the Linux distro security leader. And with its latest Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) beta releases, RHEL 8.7 and 9.1, the Linux powerhouse company is continuing to stake out its security claims.

Red Hat is releasing both of these betas at once because while RHEL 9 includes the newest features, there are not a lot of practical differences between the two RHEL distros. Eric Hendricks, RHEL's operations advocate, added that some companies prefer sticking to the tried and true. 

In any case, RHEL 8 will continue to be fully supported with new features until May 2024. Afterward, RHEL 8 goes into maintenance support mode. There, it will still get critical and important security patches -- and if Red Hat so decides, other patches. 

Also: The 5 best linux distros for beginners: You can do this 

In these beta releases, for its older RHEL 8.x and its new RHEL 9.x distros, Red Hat is implementing new built-in security features and profiles. These include:

  • RHEL identity access management (IAM) now incorporates new Ansible, Red Hat's DevOps program, tooling to configure smart card authentication across their entire business.  

  • On the other hand, RHEL can now use other IAM services, such as those provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and others. RHEL has long supported Active Directory (AD) as a third-party IAM resource.

RHEL 9.1 also supports multilevel security (MLS) to match government classified security classifications with IAM. An RHEL 9.1 administrator can also remotely verify the integrity of the remote operating systems' boot environment for extra low-level security.

Red Hat is also improving its Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) with Secure Software Supply Chain methodologies. Red Hat did this by adopting Sigstore, the well-regarded open-source software signing service for its build pipelines and tools. This, in turn, makes RHEL and programs built with it much more trustworthy. 

The company is also incorporating Sigstore into its Podman, its Open Containers Initiative (OCI) rival to Docker. Since Podman works natively with Kubernetes, the incredibly popular cloud orchestration tool, it's become very popular in its own right. 

As usual with RHEL updates, both betas include the latest coding tools, container tools, computer languages, compilers, open-source databases, and web and cache servers. These include:

  • GCC-toolset 12, and the GCC 12 compiler to RHEL 8.

  • New Rust-toolset, LLVM-toolset, and Go-toolset updates.

  • Ruby 3.1, Maven 3.8. .NET 7, and Node.js 18. 

  • RHEL 8.1 also includes Mercurial 6.2, the newest Mercurial distributed source control management tool.

  • While RHEL 9.1 includes the major PHP 8.1 language update. This is not your dad's PHP.

Also: These are the absolute best linux distros for pros 

Put it all together, and you get Linux distros that are ideal for both system and cloud administrators, and programmers. They deserve your attention. In particular, if you work a lot with PHP, RHEL 9.1 will help you get started with the latest, greatest PHP release.

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