Four years ago Red Hat released its last major flagship operating system update: Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7. A lot has changed since then. In 2014, the big changes were about improved Windows interoperability, better Virtual Machine (VM) support, making XFS the default file system, and, oh yes, making Docker available as a beta feature. Now, RHEL 8 is in beta, and it's clear RHEL 8 is for today's cloud and container-based IT world and not the server and datacenter-driven infrastructure of four years ago.
Of course, as always, the new RHEL boasts hundreds of Linux improvements. This RHEL release is based on the Red Hat community Linux May 2018 Fedora 28 release. It uses the upstream Linux kernel 4.18 for its foundation.
RHEL 8 beta also introduces the new concept of Application Streams. With this, it will be easier than ever to upgrade userspace packages -- such as the latest programming languages -- while leaving the core operating system packages alone. This way you can, if you want, get the most from the newest programs without waiting around for the next major update.
With Application Streams, you can also keep multiple versions of the same package around. So, for instance, your developers can work with the latest version of the MariaDB MySQL DBMS clone, while production keeps using the old stable edition of MariaDB.
Application Streams works by supporting a new extension of Red Hat's classic RPM packaging format: Modules. This enables you to be able to install multiple major versions of a program.
RPM's good old YUM package manager has also been updated. Besides supporting modules, it's now based on the next generation DNF package manager, and it provides support for modular content, increased performance, and a well-designed stable application programming interface (API) for integration with tooling.
For security, RHEL 8 will come with OpenSSL 1.1.1 and TLS 1.3. System-wide Cryptographic Policies are also being included. This will make it easier to manage cryptographic compliance without fine-tuning security specifications for specific applications.
The real changes are to make RHEL 8 your Linux of choice for containers. Its new container toolkit includes: Buildah, container building; Podman, running containers; and Skopeo, sharing and finding containers. These are meant to help developers find, run, build, and share containerized applications more quickly and efficiently.
If you need a full VM, RHEL Composer will enable to build and deploy custom images across the hybrid cloud. With its straightforward graphical interface, you'll be able to make minimal footprint VMs to customized, special-purpose images for everything from a traditional server to the cloud and back again.
Ready to look into the future of RHEL? Existing customers and subscribers can test Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta today. New to RHEL? Head over to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Public Beta download site and view the README file for instructions on how to download and install the software.