The next version of Red Hat's Enterprise Linux distribution is planned for release next month, and is likely to fully support the Linux 2.6 kernel and include various security features.
According to sources close to the company, the release is planned for 14 February to coincide with the LinuxWorld conference in Boston. A UK spokeswoman from Red Hat was unable to confirm the release date on Monday.
Red Hat has previously indicated that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 would be based on version 2.6 of the Linux Kernel. A beta version of the product, released in September 2004, was based on the Linux 2.6 kernel. The current version, Enterprise Linux 3, supports some features of the 2.6 kernel, but its kernel core is based on version 2.4.
Adding full support for the updated kernel should allow the operating system to run file systems of more than one terabyte and improve the performance of the input/output subsystem.
Rival Linux distributor Novell has already incorporated the 2.6 kernel into SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9, which was released in August 2004.
Mark Cox of Red Hat security response team told ZDNet UK last summer that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 will also include security enhancements derived from the US National Security Agency's Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux) project.
Cox explained that SELinux "segments programs completely", so a bug in one application cannot be exploited to modify other applications. Users are responsible for setting up the policy files for each application. "You need to create the policies and configure them, which some people won't do," said Cox.
SELinux cannot provide any protection against flawed software that is running as a root user, according to information on Red Hat's Web site.