Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.2 beta arrives

This minor Red Hat Linux release includes some nice features for both programmers and system administrators.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Red Hat has just announced that it's releasing the next beta for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8.2. Even at this early stage, RHEL 8.2 looks like a release most Red Hat users will want to adopt. 

As Red Hat sysadmin Christian Labisch observed, the ability to register your system, attach RHEL subscriptions, and install from the Content Delivery Network (CDN) before package installation is "a huge improvement."

You can use this release with both interactive GUI installations and  automated Kickstart installations. It comes with a host of benefits such as: 

  • A smaller Boot ISO image file replaces the need to download the larger Binary DVD ISO image file.  
  • The CDN uses the latest packages that result in a fully subscribed and up-to-date system immediately after installation. There is no requirement to install package updates after installation. This eliminates the need to do a YUM update immediately after installation to confirm a registered RHEL subscription.
  • Registration is performed before package installation, resulting in a shorter and more streamlined installation process.  
  • Integrated support for Red Hat Insights, a service which proactively spots and remediates threats, is available. 

RHEL 8.2 Beta also enables system admins to start checking scenarios with in-place upgrades from RHEL 6/7 to RHEL 8, Since RHEL 6 is nearing the end of its support life in November 2020, this is an important update.

The new Beta also extends RHEL's monitoring and performance capabilities with the introduction of Performance Co-Pilot (PCP) 5.02. This now comes with new collection agents for Microsoft SQL Server 2019 on Linux

For programmers, 8.2 adds tighter integration with the extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF). This is an in-kernel virtual machine that allows code execution in the kernel space. Brendan Gregg, a Netflix senior performance architect, described this as a  "fundamental change to a 50-year-old kernel model by introducing a new interface for applications to make kernel requests, alongside syscalls."  Gregg continued: It "allows you to write kernel mode applications that can access resources and run with high performance and efficiency with guarantees of security." 

On other platforms eBPF is already being used for a wide variety of tasks. In RHEL 8.2, you'll be able to use the following eBPF components:

  • The BPF Compiler Collection (BCC) tools package is a userspace collection of dynamic kernel tracing utilities that use the eBPF virtual machine for creating efficient kernel tracing and manipulation programs. BCC provides tools for I/O analysis, networking, and monitoring of Linux operating systems using eBPF.
  • The BCC library which allows the development of tools similar to those provided in the BCC tools package.
  • The eBPF for tc feature enables programmable packet processing inside the kernel network data path.

The following eBPF components are available as a Technology Preview:

  • The bpftrace tracing language
  • The eXpress Data Path (XDP) feature

Red Hat has long supported language updates ahead of RHEL releases in such packages as Red Hat Software Collections. In RHEL 8, Application Streams brought the latest developer languages, runtimes and other tools to RHEL. This gives your programmers access to the latest tools, while maintaining main operating system release stability. In the RHEL 8.2 beta: developers will get GCC Toolset 9.1; Python 3.8 and Maven 3.6.

Want to check it out? You can get early access via your subscription through the Red Hat Customer Portal or sign-up for a free Red Hat Developer Subscription. You'll be glad you did. For a minor release, RHEL 8.2 has some major benefits.

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