On Thursday, Red Hat released a beta-test version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4, the first version to incorporate virtualisation based on KVM.
Red Hat acquired the KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) technology along with its creator, Qumranet, in September 2008. It announced in February that it would create a line of virtualisation products based on the technology, and the first beta versions of the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) line-up were released last month. It includes a standalone hypervisor, RHEV-H, as well as virtualisation managers for servers and desktops.
The Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.4 beta is the first to integrate KVM-based virtualisation, which will eventually replace the previous virtualisation system, based on Xen. Xen-based virtualisation will continue to be provided and supported alongside KVM for the life of the RHEL 5 series.
"Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 provides the first commercial-strength implementation of KVM, which is developed as part of the upstream Linux kernel," Red Hat said in a statement.
The company noted that the full integration of KVM means that applications certified to run on RHEL 5 do not need to be rebuilt or re-certified, even if users switch from Xen-based virtualisation to KVM-based virtualisation. "Kernel and user application programming interfaces (APIs) are unchanged," it said.
In addition to the virtualisation tools, the beta promises better performance, security and developer tools. These include improved clock management for when RHEL is deployed on a VMware platform, and new software for improving screen rendering time. The operating system also has been reworked to provide better input/output support for when it runs in a virtual environment, and new utilities for managing fibre channel over Ethernet.