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Inside Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0 Beta

New features in the distro's latest version will make it possible to run heavy I/O servers, such as database servers, in a virtual machine under Linux, company says.
The larger pages reduce the number of pointers that map memory pages to real physical memory in the system. Hundreds or thousands of memory pointers fill chip caches when pages are limited to 4 kilobytes each, Carr noted.

These features will make it possible to run heavy I/O servers, such as database servers, in a virtual machine under Linux, Carr predicted. Database systems have not typically been included on the list of virtualized servers in the data center so far.

Version 6 will have all the features of the 2.6.33 version of the Linux kernel in it that Red Hat deems suited for the enterprise, along with backward-compatibility with previous versions of the kernel that Red Hat has used in Enterprise Linux, Carr said. Red Hat picks and chooses what it puts in Enterprise Linux, then maintains support over a minimum of seven years; support for any version is available for up to 10 years at an augmented price.

Linux has lagged the Windows world when it comes to power management, but Version 6 includes many power management features. When there's no I/O going on, active state power management kicks in and reduces the amount of power being supplied to PCI I/O devices.

When software is idling, the kernel allows a "tick-less" state to set where the CPU clock doesn't need to report to the operating system many times a second where it's at in terms of millisecond timing. In some cases, software needs a thousand clock reports or "interrupts" a second, allowing the software to know precisely when to do something. Going to a tick-less state allows reduced power consumption by the chip.

Version 6 will support the ext4 version of the ext file system and makes it the operating system's default setting. It will replace ext3, which has been in operation since 2001-2002 timeframe, Carr said.

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