Red Hat 7.1 is here, CentOS 7.1 coming soon

These two popular enterprise Linux server operating systems are getting an Active Directory and container friendly refresh.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Serious businesses use Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and its near-twin brother CentOS for their servers. The question today for CIOs using or RHEL and CentOS is: When should they upgrade to RHEL 7.1 and/or CentOS 7.1?

RHEL 7.1 is the first minor release of RHEL 7, which launched in June 2014. This new version adds improved development and deployment tools, enhanced interoperability and manageability, and additional security and performance features. This release, like all RHEL versions, will be supported for a 10-year life-cycle.

The most important new feature for shops running Linux and Windows is that RHEL 7.1 has improved its Active Directory (AD) interoperability. RHEL's System Security Services Daemon (SSSD) can recognize AD access control group policy objects. Administrators will now also be able to define log-in policies on the Active Directory domain controller. These policies are honored by its RHEL clients and Windows clients alike. The new SSSD also removes the need to use Samba Winbind when integrating directly with AD. This will, Red Hat states, makes it even easier to share files and print services in heterogeneous environments.

RHEL 7.1 also comes with new Linux container developer tools. Red Hat, which has recently partnered with Docker, includes the latest Docker packages. It's not just Docker, it also includes Google Kubernetes orchestration tools. It also includes RHEL 6 and 7 base images to provide certified, stable foundations upon which to build enterprise-grade containerized applications.

RHEL 7.1 includes three new specialized editions:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host uses Project Atomic's tools and frameworks for a Docker container specific Linux server. This offers a minimal-footprint, streamlined platform for running Linux containers in an enterprise environment.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux for Real Time is Red Hat's real-time computing platform for deadline-oriented and time-sensitive applications. This version of RHEL 7.1 uses that has been tuned to deliver consistent low-latency response times.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux for Power is RHEL for IBM's little-endian architecture. IBM and Red Hat claims that RHEL running on POWER8 offers higher performance especially for big data applications through multi-threading, more cache and greater data bandwidth, while little-endian mode removes an application portability barrier and allows data-centers running Power Systems to leverage Red Hat's ecosystem of certified applications originally developed for x86 architecture. This also means that these certified applications can be more easily migrated between x86-based and POWER processor-based systems, giving customers the advantages of both architectures.

For those of you who don't need Red Hat support to run RHEL and its programs, CentOS is on the verge of releasing CentOS 7.1. If all goes well, CentOS 7.1 will be out by March 20.

So when should you switch your company to RHEL or CentOS 7.1? As always, it depends on your needs. If your company workload is already being pulled by the two horses of RHEL and Windows, the improved AD integration makes RHEL 7.1 attractive. Is your business planning on moving to containers for its data-center apps sooner than later? Then, you should start working with the 7.1 releases sooner rather than later.

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