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Wednesday, 11 June 2014 16:42

Red Hat 7.0: too many changes at one go? Featured

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Three-and-a-half years since the last point version, the biggest open-source vendor Red Hat has announced the release of version 7.0 of its enterprise Linux distribution. Version 6.0 was released on November 10, 2010.

The new release will have better support for Linux containers, including the application-virtualisation technology Docker. It will also have XFS as its default filesystem, improved compatibility with Microsoft's Active Directory, and an installer that can analyse systems running 6.0 and advise on the best path for migration.

The question that arises is: are there too many changes in this version for businesses to consider upgrading?

XFS, a 64-bit journalling filesystem, was created by Silicon Graphics. RHEL 6.0 used ext4 as default. There is no contesting that this is a welcome change, given that XFS scales up to 500 terabytes in a single partition while ext4 is restricted to 50 terabytes.

But how many companies will welcome the change, given the time and expense involved in migrating? Red Hat claims that 62 per cent of its beta participants will upgrade within six months. One is inclined to doubt that figure.

RHEL 7.0 will also see the introduction of systemd, the controversial replacement for the old Sys V init scripts. Though systemd has also been adopted by SUSE, Ubuntu and Debian, it has more than its fair share of detractors and there is still resistance to its adoption.

Given these major changes, Red Hat has committed to a 10-year support cycle for the release. It really has no choice in this regard, because SUSE already has a similar lifecycle.

Red Hat has done superlatively well for a company that depends on free and open source software; after initial stumbles, it devised its own business strategy and managed to cross the billion-dollar revenue mark. It is far and above the biggest FOSS company; the second, SUSE, has less than a third of that revenue.

Big banks, telcos, and financial services houses have been major customers; that Red Hat has managed to increase its business revenue and still stay true to its roots is commendable.

But there are still amateurish goof-ups: the webcast was done and dusted by the time I got to it - Red Hat never sends me press releases after this - but still only 30 minutes of the 46-minute video had both pictures and sound. Twelve of the remaining minutes had only sound, and the remaining four minutes had disappeared. Enterprise-class, indeed!

The press release, available on the web, is so obtuse that even Jonathan Corbet, the venerable editor of Linux Weekly News, a site that is rarely critical of anything in the FOSS space, linked to it with the words "Red Hat has sent out a suitably buzzword-laden press release announcing the availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7."

That's an area in which Red Hat could certainly improve: communication.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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