If you're serious about server Linux, odds are good you're running Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). There are other good ones; SuSE Linux Enteprise Server (SLES) and Ubuntu 16.04 Long Term Support (LTS) Server both spring to mind. But the Fortune 500 loves RHEL.
Who can blame them? It comes not just with a top-flight Linux distribution but with the excellent RHEL support program, So, it's good news for many business RHEL system administrators that RHEL 6.8, the latest version, is out now.
As usual, the latest member of the RHEL 6.x family includes numerous small improvements. The RHEL 6.8 base image has been changed to make it easier for sysadmins to migrate their traditional workloads into container-based applications.
To enhance virtual private networks (VPNs) security, RHEL 6.8 has switched to libreswan. This is an implementation of one of the widely supported IPSec VPN protocols. Libreswan replaces openswan as the RHEL 6 IPSEc VPN endpoint solution.
RHEL 6.8 users will also see increased client-side performance and simpler management through the addition of new capabilities to the Identity Management System Security Services Daemon (SSSD). In addition, identity logins are sped up by using client cached authentication look-up to reduce the unnecessary exchange of user credentials with Active Directory (AD) servers. Support for adcli, an AD tool, will simplify AD domain RHEL 6.x management. Finally, SSSD, which handles identity and authentication remote resources, now supports smart card user authentication.
Why all this AD support? In case you missed it, Red Hat and Microsoft are now partnering. RHEL is now available on the Azure cloud.
Do you want local back-ups? Then you'll like that RHEL now includes Relax-and-Recover. This is a really easy to use bare-metal system archiving tool. It enables systems administrators to create local backups in an ISO format that can be centrally archived and replicated remotely for simplified disaster recovery operations. It's that rarest of things: A true set up and forget it back-up system. I've used it myself and it works.
The new RHEL also includes an enhanced yum package management tool. This simplifies installing packages while adding intelligence to the process of locating required packages to add or enable new platform features. While it's not an Ubuntu Snap style packing system its functionality is a step in that direction.
Finally when it comes to storage, RHEL 6.8 now uses dmstats to provide increased storage usage and performance visibility. In addition, RHEL's Scalable File System Add-on 8 now supports xfs file-system sizes up to 300TB.
Jim Totton, Red Hat's VP and general manager of the Platforms Business Unit, said in a statement, "RHEL 6.8 continues to demonstrate Red Hat's commitment to our customers' many mission-critical deployments by delivering a proven foundation for the applications and systems that power the modern enterprise. With enhancements to security features and management, RHEL 6.8 remains a solid, proven base for modern enterprise IT operations."
Today's release also marks the transition of RHEL 6 into Production Phase 2. In this part of RHEL 6's life-cycle Red Hat is prioritizing security features for critical platform deployments over inovatation. If you want the newest production ready Linux features, you'll want RHEL 7.2.
Not sure if RHEL is for you? Red Hat has recently started offering a free RHEL subscription for developers, as part of its Red Hat Developer Program. You can't use it for production, but you can use it to get a feel for RHEL.