​Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 beta is out now

The latest version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux takes a big step forward into the cloud.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

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I've said it before. I'll say it again: Red Hat, not content with being a Linux power, wants to be a cloud powerhouse. Need proof? Look no further than the newest beta for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.6.

Sure, you'll see Linux security improvements. These include an improved GnuTLS library with Hardware Security Module (HSM) support, a strengthened OpenSSL for mainframes, and enhancements to the nftables firewall. In addition, RHEL 7,6 integrates the extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF) to provide a safer, more efficient mechanism for monitoring Linux kernel activity. In later versions, this will enable additional performance monitoring and network tracing tools.

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But the real changes are to make RHEL better for hybrid cloud deployments. For example, 7.6 uses Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 hardware modules to enable Network Bound Disk Encryption (NBDE) to provide two layers of security features for hybrid cloud operations: The network-based mechanism works in the cloud, while on-premises TPM helps to keep information on disks more secure.

RHEL 7.6 also introduces Podman. This is part of Red Hat's lightweight container toolkit. It adds enterprise-grade security features to containers. Podman complements Buildah and Skopeo by enabling users to run, build, and share containers using the Bash shell. It can also work with CRI-O, a lightweight Kubernetes containers runtime.

Podman can start and run standalone (non-orchestrated) containers from the shell, as services through systemd, or via a remote API. You can also use these same capabilities to invoke groups of containers, on a single node, aka pods. It does not require a daemon to function, which helps to eliminate complexity and the client server interactions of a traditional container engine. The technology also helps developers who want to build containers on their desktop, in continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) systems, or starting containers within HPC and big data schedulers.

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Why is Red Hat doing this? Not to be crass about it, but that's where the money is. As Red Hat's Paul Cormier, president of products and technologies, stated, the hybrid cloud is becoming a default technology choice.

He continued, "Enterprises want the best answers to meet their specific needs, regardless of whether that's through the public cloud or on bare metal in their own datacenter. Red Hat Enterprise Linux provides an answer to a wide variety of IT challenges, providing a stable, enterprise-grade backbone across all of IT's footprints -- physical, virtual, private cloud, and public cloud. As the future of IT turns towards workloads running across heterogeneous environments, Red Hat Enterprise Linux has focused on evolving to meet these changing needs."

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How are they doing? It you're already a RHEL customer, you can see for yourself by downloading RHEL 7.6 beta. If you're not a customer, you can get 30-day evaluation version and check it out.

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