RHEL 7.4 Launches With Key Performance, Security Features

The first milestone release of Red Hat's flagship operating system in 2017 debuts, adding several new security features and improving cluster management capabilities.

Red Hat announced the general availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.4 on Aug. 1, providing users with improved performance and security features. 

The new release had been in beta since May 23 and there were no major changes made or flaws discovered during the beta process, according to Steve Almy, principal product manager for RHEL at Red Hat. RHEL 7.4 is the first official milestone update for Red Hat's flagship operating platform in 2017. RHEL 7.3 became generally available in November 2016.

Among RHEL 7.4's new features are improved audit and forensic capabilities. 

"Enhanced audit and forensic capabilities in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.4 help simplify how administrators filter the events logged by the audit system, gather more information from critical events and help to interpret large numbers of records," Almy told eWEEK.

The new audit capabilities are enabled in RHEL 7.4 thanks to new subject and session ID filters in Linux, as well as a new human-readable, log normalizer technology. Almy explained that the log normalizer technology translates audit logs from the current name=value format into sentence-style logs. 

RHEL 7.4 also provides enterprises with enhanced container security functionality by integrating support for using SELinux (Security Enhanced Linux) with OverlayFS. SELinux provides additional access control on running processes in Linux, while OverlayFS is a read-only file system that enables many containers to be layered on top of each other.

"With Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.4, customers can enable SELinux when running with the OverlayFS filesystem, helping to reduce security risks and provide greater isolation of workloads," Almy said. "The efficiency and performance aspects of OverlayFS make it a natural fit for container workloads."

Looking beyond the security improvements, RHEL 7.4 includes multiple capabilities that improve cluster performance, including support for quorum devices and the Booth cluster ticket manager. Both of the improved cluster management features had previously been in technology preview.

"Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.4 provides full support for the ability to configure a separate quorum device which acts as a third-party arbitration device for the cluster," Red Hat's release notes state. "Its primary use is to allow a cluster to sustain more node failures than standard quorum rules allow."

The Booth cluster ticket manager enables enterprises to set up multiple disparate high-availability clusters that coordinate resource management through a distributed service.

"The Booth ticket manager facilitates a consensus-based decision process for individual tickets that ensure that specified resources are run at only one site at a time, for which a ticket has been granted," Red Hat's release notes state.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.