It took longer than expected, but in 2014, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.0 was finally released. It became one of the most influential business Linux distributions of all time. Now, with the release of RHEL 7.9, the end of the RHEL 7.x story is in sight.
You need not be in too much of a hurry to migrate away from RHEL 7.x. RHEL 7.9 will be supported until June 30, 2024. This is the last RHEL 7 minor release as RHEL 7 enters the Maintenance Support 2 phase. During this phase, Red Hat-defined Critical and Important impact Security Advisories (RHSAs) and selected (at Red Hat discretion) Urgent Priority Bug Fix Advisories (RHBAs) may be released as they become available. Other errata advisories may also be delivered.
RHEL 7.9 also comes with Kpatch. With this live-patch program, you can update your RHEL 7 kernels "live" without rebooting.
It's hard to believe that we introduced Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 (RHEL 7) into the market more than six years ago. RHEL 7 balanced the enterprise need for stability and compatibility with that of tangible innovation. At general availability, we believe that we dispelled the myth that the operating system is "just a commodity" and redefined the Linux operating system.
The last RHEL 7.x also includes a security content automation protocol (SCAP) profile for the Center for Information Security (CIS) benchmark and selected bugfixes. The former can be very useful if your CIO or CISO requires measurable proof of your security efforts.
RHEL 7.9 also enables you to do in-place upgrades with LEAPP. This is a command-line interface (CLI) program you can use to make upgrading production Linux systems easier.
Before bidding RHEL 7 adieu, it's interesting to recall the many innovations it brought to RHEL and Linux. These include:
- Red Hat Software Collections provide the latest, stable runtimes and development tools for modern application development and deployment. RHEL 8 built on this introduced Application Streams - the next generation of packaging programmer tools and libraries.
- RHEL System Roles make it easier to perform complex or routine system tasks, like establishing a storage system. RHEL 8 has expanded this to include logging and session recording.
- RHEL 7 added Docker containers. While Red Hat still supports Docker, since then, it's added the next wave of open standards-based container development tools such as Buildah, Skopeo, and Podman.
- Systemd. In what's still seen as a very mixed blessing in some Linux circles, RHEL 7 was the first major business Linux distribution to move to the Systemd system initialization framework from the prior generation's System V Unix init. While still disliked by many, Systemd has become the de facto standard system initialization mechanism for most Linux distributions.
- The Red Hat Enterprise Linux web console made it much easier for new system administrators to manage basic system tasks.
Put it all together and it's clear to see that RHEL 7 was a major step forward in corporate Linux distributions. It's no wonder that IDC has found that Red Hat is the leading choice for paid Linux in the worldwide server operating environment market, with over 33% of the total paid enterprise operating systems. RHEL 7 was a big reason for this. And, even now, RHEL 7 remains a useful and vibrant part of the Linux business world.