In a mailing-list message announcing the release, the company noted that "This is a public beta. Feel free to forward this announcement to anyone who may be interested in testing this beta release."
RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) 5 Beta 1 was originally scheduled to appear in mid-July. Originally, Beta 2 was to have appeared in September.
Despite this delay, Red Hat still plans to get the next version of RHEL out to customers by years end.
Sources close to the company said the beta had been delayed because of memory problems. At first, these corruption problems had been laid at the door of Xen, the open-source virtualization program, but further analysis determined that it was a kernel debugging problem.
This problem has since been fixed. Indeed, this version of RHEL will include Xen "on the i386 and x86_64 architectures as well as a technology preview for IA64."
This is more than a little surprising, since as recently as mid-August, Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens was saying that Xen wasnt ready for prime time yet.
Further, Stevens accused Novell, which had included Xen in its July release of SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server) 10, as "being cavalier [with Xen]. We know what we need to be enterprise-ready and we already have a checklist of everything we need for that. They [Novell] have decided its more important to be first. Thats fine and maybe makes sense for them."
Novell CTO Jeff Jaffe responded that "Red Hat has adopted the John Kerry approach to virtualization: constant flip-flopping. Lets not forget that until recently Red Hat not only supported Xen, they wanted it to be part of Linux."