Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Beta 1 – Publically Available

Red Hat may have actually gone and impressed me.

I’ve been using Red Hat since the dark days when hardware support was just a pipe-dream.  When RH9 progressed into Fedora and businesses were suddenly against using “free” to host their applications, Red Hat became the clunky but trusted supported Linux vendor or choice for many.  RHEL3 was old – but worked. RHEL4 was better and worked and RHEL5 was marred by Ubuntu but finally brought virtualization out of the box.  Ubuntu became desktop choice for many, dividing the Linux desktop community into Fedora (and others) and Ubuntu (and Debian derivatives).  Ubuntu was also creeping into the enterprise and was becoming as ubiquitous to businesses as more and more people who ran Linux at home were becoming to be employed basically because of the progress that Ubuntu has made on the desktop.

As a server OS, Red Hat ticks all the right boxes – so much so that over the last 6 years of setting up and maintaining one of the busiest websites in the UK, running on Red Hat, support calls can be counted on a single hand with fingers to spare.  Red Hat was right at home on servers where the sysadmins realm began with a $ or a #.  On the desktop – you’d be crazy, or forced to by company policy, to run RHEL.  It wasn’t mature enough to go beyond the basics.

RHEL6 seems to have changed this.

With an updated kernel supporting the goodness you expect from mature kernels (including the much needed hardware virtualisation features of modern chips), Gnome 2.28, OpenOffice.org 3, Firefox 3.5.3 (as at time of this writing and beta) – it now bares the hallmarks of the polished interface we expect of a modern distributions.  I can genuinely see this on enterprise desktops and people not look around in as much jealousy at the Microsoft alternative.

On the server side, default filesystem is EXT4 providing read and write caching capabilities and improvements to file access, booting the server (under vbox) to a shell took 10 seconds – a speed that is noticeable.  The usually increase in software versions are all there such as Apache 2.2.14 and Samba 3.4.4.

I highly recommend checking out the public beta at ftp://ftp.redhat.com/pub/redhat/rhel/beta/6/ and more information can be found in Red Hat’s press release http://press.redhat.com/2010/04/21/red-hat-enterprise-linux-6-beta-available-today-for-public-download/

With Ubuntu’s impending 10.04 LTS release due out imminently it will be interesting to see how Red Hat fares against the much preferred Linux distro deskop of choice and its pitch against the enterprise server market.

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