Built-in virtualization and built-in support for stateless Linux as well as improved automation and management tools will make Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 a more compelling platform for the data center and grid deployments, said Brian Stevens, who was named Red Hat's CTO earlier this month.
Red Hat will deliver in a month a test release of Fedora Core 5, which will be the basis of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, Stevens said. But the final RHEL5 upgrade won't be commercially available until the end of next year, he said.
In the interim, Red Hat will adopt a Sun-style approach to its development process and will release early tech previews of technologies under development to generate feedback from customers and partners. Red Hat's announcement comes just a day before the Open Source Business Conference kicks off in Newton, Mass.
Like Microsoft, which plans to integrate a hypervisor in Windows, Red Hat — and Novell — plan to include the Xen hypervisor in their core Linux commercial offering. Xen will also be integrated into a future Linux kernel, but RHEL 5 will be based on the existing Linux kernel 2.6.
This will allow customers to create new instances of Linux across a grid or server more easily from within the OS, rather then relying on third party Linux virtualization products such as VMware. "Our goal is to be pervasive and disruptive and we don't want to treat Xen as a niche," Stevens said. "We believe virtualization should be a part of every platform."
Aside from the Xen virtualization, Red Hat will include support for stateless Linux and a new pricing model "to bring it to the masses," Stevens said. This model of computing allows customers to store user profiles and desktop images on the network and then deploy the rich client to a PC, Stevens said.
It is similar to the server-centric thin client model of computing and will enable easier desktop management but the dynamic "state" is kept on the network rather than stored locally, he added. And he claims the quality will be higher than traditional thin client models.
"It takes thin client to the next level where it's not just servers, yet we still have rich client, and the state is transparently kept on the network," Steven added.
In addition to virtualization and stateless support, Red Red also plans to help developers move to a next generation open source development environment with new profiler and debugger technologies along with support for UML, source code management and change management offerings, Stevens said.
Red Hat currently supports Eclipse, SystemTAP and Frysk and will ensure that its development technologies plug into open source development frameworks, the CTO said.
Finally, Red Hat also plans to enhance its Linux offerings with reliable messaging hooks like MQSeries to improve transactions and deeper integration with the Linux kernel to exploit I/O improvements.
Red Hat said previews of the technologies are available at http://www.fedora.redhat.com.