Six months after Red Hat released the most recent major update of its flagship operating system, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8, the first minor RHEL 8 release of the RHEL 8.1 brings significant improvements to manageability, security, and hybrid cloud performance.
First and foremost, in my mind, RHEL 8.1 8.1 now has full support for live kernel patching. You can now update your Linux kernel for Critical or Important Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) without needing to go to the trouble of a system reboot. This keeps your system up and running even serious security bugs are patched behind the scenes.
With your RHEL subscription, you also get access to Red Hat Insights. This is a proactive analytics offering. Its job is to help you address configuration and other system issues before they blow up in production's face. Red Hat Insights does this by providing more than 1,000 rules for operating RHEL on-premises or on public clouds such as AWS and Microsoft Azure.
Besides helping you to run RHEL smoothly, these rules also support analytics for workloads such as SAP HANA and Microsoft SQL Server.
The new RHEL also includes RHEL System Roles. These streamline setting up RHEL subsystems to handle specific functions, such as storage, networking, time synchronization, kdump, and SElinux. This expansion of the existing Ansible DevOps system roles helps you to automate your RHEL configurations for faster and smoother system deployments.
To improve container security, container-centric SELinux profiles are included in RHEL 8.1. SELinux is notoriously hard to set up. By making it comparatively easy to create tailored security policies that control how containerized services access host system resources, it's much easier to harden containerized applications against security threats targeting cloud-native applications.
RHEL 8.1 has also been approved for many of the latest security certifications. These include the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) and Common Criteria (CC).
As usual, the latest RHEL includes the newest stable versions of languages and developer tools. Besides the usual Linux-friendly array of such programs as gcc, the latest stable versions of newer popular open-source languages, such as golang and .NET Core. RHEL 8.1, also supports Microsoft SQL Server and SAP solutions.
Want to know what's coming next for RHEL? The new CentOS Stream distribution gives you a "rolling preview" of what's next for RHEL.
RHEL 8.1 is the first RHEL release in Red Hat's new plan of releasing minor releases every six months. This, too, gives you a clearer view of what's coming with RHEL down the road.
The new RHEL is available now for active RHEL subscriptions via the Red Hat Customer Portal. Red Hat Developer program members can also download the latest RHEL for free.
RHEL 8.1 looks great, but you never want to take a chance with your production systems, so don't update your servers yet. I'd start testing RHEL 8.1 today. The kernel patching feature alone could save your company some serious coin by improving your server uptime numbers.