Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 Enters Public Beta

RHEL 7.1 is now available in beta. Improved security is a key focus in the new beta of Red Hat's flagship Linux platform. .

Red Hat today announced the beta availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 and provided a preview of new features set to debut in the coming year. The RHEL 7.1 beta provides new security and performance capabilities that have been developed in the open-source community

The RHEL 7.1 beta is the first incremental milestone update for Red Hat's flagship Linux platform since RHEL 7 became generally available in June.

Among the improvements that the RHEL 7.1 beta includes is a new security certificate authority (CA) as part of the identity management system.

"Identity management includes a certificate authority through the Dogtag Certificate System," Siddharth Nagar, principal product manager at Red Hat, explained to eWEEK.

The Dogtag Certificate system is an open-source project that got started in Red Hat's Fedora Linux community. Nagar said that what's new in RHEL 7.1 is that Red Hat now includes an additional capability that allows users to change a CA certificate and alter the chain of trust.

RHEL 7.1 will also provide users with improved two-factor authentication capabilities.

In a two-factor authentication approach, a second password, or factor, is required by a user in addition to the primary password, in order to gain access. Typically a one-time password (OTP) mechanism is needed to enable the second factor, which Red Hat is now enabling with RHEL 7.1 beta. OTP authentication is now possible in RHEL 7.1 by leveraging authentication software tokens from the open-source FreeOTP project.

The Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) has been supported by Red Hat for several years and is now getting some additional enhancements in RHEL 7.1 with the SCAP Security Guide. SCAP provides a framework for creating a standardized approach for maintaining secure systems. Nagar explained that the new SCAP Security guide delivers security guidance, baselines and associated validation mechanisms using the protocol.

"The underlying project provides practical security hardening advice for Red Hat products, and also links it to compliance requirements in order to ease deployment activities, such as certification and accreditation," Nagar said.

The RHEL 7.1 beta release provides enterprises with a real-time kernel option. From a technology perspective, a real-time kernel provides a deterministic response to system events.

Real-time is particularly important in a number of verticals, including defense and finance, in which actions need to be completed in a consistent manner. Red Hat has had real-time Linux capabilities in a product called MRG since 2007.

"Red Hat has had a real-time solution based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and 6 for some time now," Nagar said. "We are pleased to introduce a similar capability for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, starting with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1, and will be delivering this offering as Red Hat Enterprise Linux for Real Time."

In terms of system architecture, with RHEL 7.1, Red Hat will now be providing broader support for IBM's Power8.

"Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 have supported and continue to support POWER, inclusive of POWER8," Nagar said. "The news here is that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 beta is the first version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux to support POWER8 on IBM Power Systems, based on little endian."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and 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.