It's time to say both hello and goodbye. Hello to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.9, the latest update to the RHEL 6 platform. And, goodbye, because this will be the last major update to this six-year-old enterprise Linux server distribution.
RHEL 6.x has long been a business server favorite. With this last edition, Red Hat delivers new hardware support and updates to Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.2 to improve network security. As you probably know, if you care at all about security, TLS implementations such as OpenSSL have had numerous security holes in recent months.
The new RHEL 6 also comes with broader support for the latest Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) standards. If you're using RHEL in retail, this alone makes RHEL 6.9 a must-update.
Jim Totton, Red Hat's VP and general manager of the Platforms Business Unit, said in a statement, "For more than six years, RHEL 6 has provided enterprise IT with a more secure, stable, and reliable platform for mission-critical workloads, from financial systems to national security applications. RHEL 6.9 shows our continued commitment to providing a solid backbone for production deployments, adding security and stability enhancements and an updated container base image to address a variety of vital business IT needs."
While emphasizing stability for existing IT infrastructure, RHEL 6.9 looks ahead by supporting the next generation of cloud-native applications through an updated base image. This image enables you to migrate your existing RHEL 6 workloads into container-based applications. These can then be deployed on RHEL 7, RHEL Atomic Host, or Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform.
As for RHEL 6 itself, it enters Production Phase 3 on May 10, 2017. That means that subsequent updates will be limited to critical security fixes and business-impacting urgent issues. RHEL 6.x will be supported until at least November 2020. After that its support life may be extended onward with extended life-cycle support. For more details on RHEL's support see the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Life Cycle web page.
Since RHEL subscriptions aren't tied to a particular release, you can also update your RHEL 6 servers to RHEL 7 whenever you want with no charge. To help you with this migration, Red Hat provides instructions and two tools: Preupgrade Assistant and Red Hat Upgrade Tool.
RHEL 6.9 is now available to all customers with an active Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription via the Red Hat Customer Portal. If you're already a RHEL 6 user, this update is a no-brainer. Its security improvements alone make upgrading your servers to it a top priority.