Linux provider Red Hat Inc. will release the next version of its personal and professional Linux operating system, Red Hat Linux 9, to the retail channel early next month.
Red Hat officials on Tuesday confirmed the contents of an e-mail, first reported by eWEEK, that the company sent some customers on Monday.
The e-mail said that, beginning March 31, paid subscribers to the Red Hat Network would have access to Red Hat Linux 9 ISOs (images of a CD that users download and then burn to blank CDs as the installation disks) a full week before retail store and Red Hat FTP availability.
"What you might not know is that Red Hat Network passed the one million users mark earlier this year. Weve listened to valuable feedback and have added two items of interest to keep those users happy—the early release of Red Hat Linux 9 ISOs and improved technical support," the e-mail said.
Deb Woods, a Red Hat director, told eWEEK on Tuesday that the product would thus only be available in the retail market on April 7. "So, for $60 per system per year, individuals or small businesses can sign up for Red Hat Network and get all updates as well as early access to the electronic documentation version and be able to download the ISOs themselves," she said.
Matt Wilson, who manages the base operating system for Red Hat, told eWEEK on Tuesday that the most significant technical feature in Red Hat Linux 9 is the inclusion of the Native Posix Threading Library (NTPL), essentially an enhanced threading technology that allows developers to create software with increased scalability, faster speeds and standardized development processes.
"This is where we put the bulk of our engineering efforts for version 9. Linux has been lacking a scalable thread implementation for some time. The one weve had in the past didnt scale well, had some behavior problems and wasnt standards compliant.
"We felt we had the expertise needed to really spearhead and implement a threading library that was going to be scalable and maintainable in the long run," he said.
This technology is key to good Java support of a platform, particularly those implementations that use a lot of threads. However, all applications that use threads will benefit as well, as they will not require custom work-arounds for Linux and the older, broken behaviors.
"They can now just code to standards. It lowers the developer cost because you dont have to learn what the exceptions are for Linux versus other Posix compliant platforms," Wilson said.
Asked why Red Hat jumped straight from version 8 to 9 without any point releases, Wilson said that with the recent introduction of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and that family of products, the company is now able to integrate stable and mature new technology developments as they are released instead of having to artificially delay their incorporation until the next major release following a few point releases, he said.
In addition, version 9 includes more polished Bluecurve graphical user interfaces. The Bluecurve interface was first released in version 8 last September after Red Hat configured the KDE and GNOME desktop environments to look and behave in similar fashion, a move that created some controversy.
This latest release is also designed to further enhance usability, with a user-friendly desktop with graphical enhancements and icons, a robust suite of configuration tools, a graphical tool to easily customize security settings and the Red Hat Network integration, which allows point-and-click utilities to monitor and integrate existing system updates.
Also included are the OpenOffice.org desktop productivity suite, the Apache 2.0 Web server, Mozilla Internet browser as well as Ximian Evolution, which provides e-mail, calendaring and contact management capabilities.
The personal version of the product retails for $39.95, which includes 30 days of basic Red Hat Network service and 30 days of Web-based installation support for a single system. The professional version sells for $149.95 and comes with 60 days basic service from Red Hat network, as well as 60 days of Web- and telephone-based support.
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