Red Hat today announced the beta availability of its next-generation Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7 operating system platform. The new beta marks the first major public milestone release of RHEL 7, which is the successor to the RHEL 6 platform that first debuted in 2010 and was most recently updated with the 6.5 release in November of this year.
RHEL 7 is based on the Fedora 19 community Linux release and the Linux 3.10 kernel, both of which first debuted in July. Red Hat has been hardening the Fedora 19 base over the last several months to ensure enterprise-grade stability, Ron Pacheco, senior manager of Platform Product Management at Red Hat, told eWEEK.
One of the big changes coming in RHEL 7 is the move from Ext4 to XFS as the default file system. Ext4 and its predecessor Ext3 have long been the default file systems in Red Hat's Linux distributions. However, Pacheco said, across all industries, Red Hat's customers are dealing with a data explosion—which shouldn't surprise anyone involved in the technology industry given the buzz around big data. "This enormous data growth requires a scalable, performance file system, which is provided by XFS— hence the move to it as the default file system," he said.
XFS can support systems of up to 500TB in size; in contrast, Ext4 scales to a maximum stand-alone file system of 50TB.
Red Hat will continue to support Ext4 in its distribution and will also include the Btrfs file system as a tech preview. Btrfs was once seen by many in the Linux community as the natural successor to Ext4. In fact, in June 2012, Red Hat had indicated that it was its intention to more fully integrate Btrfs into RHEL 7. Rival Linux distributions from SUSE and Oracle already fully support Btrfs.
Storage overall is a key area of improvement in RHEL 7, with multiple scalability and management improvements. Pacheco said the new Linux distribution includes updates to the NFS (Network File System) protocol for enhanced security, more efficient communication and improved management.
"New storage management capabilities simplify the configuration and management of file systems and decrease the effort needed to manage heterogeneous storage environments," Pacheco said. "These capabilities include Storage Manager and the unified CLI (Command Line Interface)."
RHEL 7 also introduces new performance management profiles, including maximum and balanced performance profiles. In contrast with the maximum profile where everything is tuned up, the balanced performance profile provides a balance between performance and energy savings, according to Pacheco.
In addition, the new Red Hat release will include support for Docker containers, which provide an alternative to traditional hypervisors for application virtualization.
Red Hat has not yet formally announced the official general availability date for RHEL 7, though in a recent interview with eWEEK, Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens strongly hinted that it will be released in 2014.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.