Here comes Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.2

Red Hat introduces its latest RHEL version that helps users to get the most from the hybrid cloud.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Red Hat is kicking rump and taking names now that it's part of IBM. Red Hat revenue was up 18% in the last quarter and up almost 50% over last year. Why? One reason, as IBM CFO Jim Kavanaugh said, was Red Hat's been "leveraging IBM's deep client relationships." The other reason is that Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and the hybrid cloud built upon it have proven very popular. Now, the company is taking the next step in securing this business lead with the latest release of RHEL 8.2

This update is built for the hybrid cloud era. That starts with new intelligent management and monitoring capabilities via Red Hat Insights. This is Red Hat's proactive operations and security risk management offering. 

Its latest updates to the service include:

  • Improved visibility into IT security, compliance postures, and operational efficiencies helping to eliminate manual methods and improve productivity in managing large and complex environments while enhancing security and compliance across these deployments. 
  • New policies and patch services to help organizations define and monitor important internal policies and determine which Red Hat product advisories apply to RHEL instances and remediation guidance. 
  • Drift service to help IT teams compare systems to baselines, providing a benchmark to guide strategies for reducing complexity and expediting troubleshooting.  

As businesses are forced to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, companies are operating remotely with limited on-site personnel. Thus, now more than ever, system administrators must be able to monitor, manage, and analyze the underlying foundations of enterprise technology stacks, regardless of size, scale, complexity, or where they reside across hybrid/multi-cloud footprints. That's where Insights shines. 

As Stefanie Chiras, RHEL's vice president and general manager, observed:

"Right now, IT organizations need to do more with existing technologies in their established software stack; they need to drive operational stability and maintain service availability, frequently with remote or limited IT teams, without mortgaging their technological future. RHEL 8.2 provides this and more, with proactive, intelligent monitoring capabilities and enterprise-ready container tools, enabling IT teams to support the crucial needs of today while maintaining ready to take on a cloud-native future, whenever their operations can support it."

RHEL 8.2 also comes with additional monitoring and performance updates. These include:

Red Hat has also been working on improving its container tools. If you want to move forward with the latest Skopeo and Buildah, the latest container tools, you can do so. 

To improve containerized workloads, RHEL 8.2 introduces Udica. This is a new tool for more easily creating customized, container-centric SELinux security policies. When applied to a specific workload, Udica can reduce the risk that a process can "break out" of a container to cause problems across other containers or the host itself.

The new RHEL also has Red Hat Universal Base Image enhancements. Base Image is a lightweight RHEL distro for use inside containers. Its new features are: 

  • OpenJDK and .NET 3.0 for expanded developer choice in building Red Hat certification-ready cloud-native applications
  • Improved access to source code associated with a given image through a single command, making it easier for Red Hat partners to meet source code requirements for open-source licensing needs.

For the CIO and CTO, RHEL 8.2 has improved business management tools. These are:

  • Integrated RHEL subscription registration as part of the installation process, providing an easier on-boarding experience for new installations.
  • The ability to enable Red Hat Insights during installation to simplify the launch of Insights for RHEL estates of any size.
  • Continued refinement and control of the RHEL life cycle with testing for in-place upgrades, Red Hat Insights rules to help with upgrades, and the Convert2RHEL tool, which can help shift workloads from unsupported RHEL clones like CentOS to the world's leading enterprise Linux platform.

RHEL 8.2 programmers will be happy with this release's tighter integration, with the extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF). This is an in-kernel virtual machine that allows code execution in the kernel space. 

Brendan Gregg, a Netflix senior performance architect, described this as a "fundamental change to a 50-year-old kernel model by introducing a new interface for applications to make kernel requests, alongside syscalls." Gregg continued: "[This enables] you to write kernel-mode applications that can access resources and run with high performance and efficiency with guarantees of security." 

This release also comes with the GCC Toolset 9.1; Python 3.8 and Maven 3.6. 

While announced on April 21, 2020, RHEL 8.2 isn't available quite yet. It will soon be generally available via the Red Hat Customer Portal.

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