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9/13/2006
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Red Hat Releases Enterprise Linux 5 Beta

Final code likely won't ship until early 2007. The product timetable changed to allow for more testing of open-source Xen virtualization technology, which is considered the biggest new feature.

Red Hat has released its Xen-enabled Enterprise Linux 5 code into beta testing but won't likely ship the final code until early 2007.

The Raleigh, N.C.-based Linux distributor said it released the much-anticipated beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 on Friday and plans to issue a release candidate in late fall. The product launch is now slated for early in the winter, which begins Dec. 21. Red Hat originally committed to shipping the code by end of 2006.

A Red Hat spokeswoman issued a statement Wednesday indicating that the product timetable has changed to allow for more testing of the open-source Xen virtualization technology, which is considered the biggest new feature. The Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Beta 1 release contains virtualization on the i386 and x86_64 architectures as well as a technology preview for IA64.

"A primary scheduling driver is ensuring that the Xen virtualization technology is sufficiently tested and hardened for reliable enterprise production deployment," the company statement said. "This extensive testing and hardening, coupled with technology and services to aid early adopters, reflects Red Hat's commitment to deliver enterprise-class, open-source solutions."

Red Hat questioned the market readiness of Xen after Novell, its chief Linux rival, shipped its Xen-enabled offering in July.

One IBM partner said the Xen code in Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10 is working well and that he also will test Red Hat's virtualization code.

"Yes, we will be beta-testing [Red Hat Enterprise Linux] version 5. We are very excited about Red Hat offering Xen with its newest release," said Frank Basanta, director of technology at Systems Solutions, New York. "We have been running SLES 10 with Xen for the last few months with excellent results."

Aside from Xen, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Beta 1 features AutoFS and iSCSI network storage support, smart card integration, SELinux security, clustering and a cluster file system, Infiniband and RDMA support, and Kexec and Kdump, which replace the current Diskdump and Netdump. Beta 1 also incorporates improvements to the installation process, analysis and development tools SystemTap and Frysk, a new driver model and enablers for stateless Linux.

Red Hat initially planned to offer full support for stateless Linux, but that plan was altered. Similar to the thin-client model, stateless Linux is a computing model that allows customers to store user profiles and desktop images on the network and deploy the rich client to a PC.

Red Hat urged customers to begin the beta-testing process and use its services group to do so.

"Customers who wish to deploy proofs of concept or pilots prior to completion of this hardening are encouraged to use Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 beta software," the company statement said. "Red Hat offers professional services that enable customers to successfully complete pilots and plan their enterprise deployment."

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