Red Hat and Ximian Polish Linux Apps

Offerings to exploit the scalability and performance of Linux's 2.4 Kernel.

Paving the way for Linux to reach farther into the enterprise, Red Hat Inc. has released Version 7.1 of its Red Hat Linux distribution, based on the 2.4 kernel that came out in January.

The release is one among many in the Linux and Unix communities recently. In addition, Ximian Inc., the open-source company formerly known as Helix Code, released its Ximian GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment) 1.4 and Red Carpet 1.0 desktop environments; the open-source Samba Team announced the release of Samba 2.2; and IBM next week will ship AIX 5L Version 5.1, which will enable users to manage and build both AIX and Linux applications.

Red Hat officials said Version 7.1 of its platform takes advantage of the scalability and additional performance features found in the 2.4 kernel (see April 23 review, Version 7.1 improves multiprocessor performance, with support for servers holding up to eight Intel Corp. processors, said Marty Wesley, Red Hat product manager, in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

On the desktop front, Ximian, of Boston, released its GNOME 1.4 and Red Carpet 1.0 desktop environments. The Ximian release is based on the GNU Projects GNOME 1.4, which hit the market earlier this month. Ximian said it hopes to improve on that release, which was plagued by downloading and installation problems.

"Ximian 1.4 offers a number of new features, including a new menu structure that is much more comprehensible," said Ximian co-founder and Vice President of Product Development Nat Friedman. "The Mozilla Web browser is now fully integrated and continually updated, while the GNOME doorman, a small wizard which runs the first time the user logs in to the new desktop, allows users to set up their new desktop before they log in."

Red Carpet 1.0, the software management application for Ximian GNOME, enables next-generation software updating and installation. Red Carpet 1.0 lets users update software on their computers with just one click. "In addition to freeing you from the task of searching for updates, Red Carpet allows you to install new software and remove existing software from your system with full dependency and conflict resolution," Friedman said.

Ximians updated Evolution groupware suite, which serves as a personal mailer, calendar, address book and instant messaging tool, will also be released later this summer, Friedman said.

In other news, the Samba Team has released Samba 2.2, the open-source software that lets Linux and Unix computers mimic Windows machines (see review, Page 63). Enhancements to the software allow it to act as an authentication source for Windows 2000 and Windows NT clients, allowing savings on the purchase of Microsoft Corp. Client Access Licenses.

Samba 2.2 can also slip into a Windows 2000 network easily without having to be specially configured, while Samba servers automatically send computers the software needed to use a particular printer, the group said.

Finally, IBMs newest AIX includes APIs and header files that allow popular Linux applications to run on AIX with a simple recompilation. Officials said the move is in response to a large number of customers asking for better Unix and Linux interoperability.

Version 5.1 now supports both IBMs Power PC and Intels Itanium architectures and offers features designed to enable customers to safely and rapidly grow their infrastructures with enhanced automated management tools and concurrent operation of 32- and 64-bit applications.

Steven Kellogg, director of advanced information technologies at the Center for Academic Computing at Pennsylvania State University, in College Park, said building Linux applications on AIX had not been easy in the past and needed a lot more work.

"Version 5.1 makes this much simpler," Kellogg said. As a beta tester for 5.1 and a longtime AIX user, he said he liked the fact that porting open source code was also easier and more effective.

Among the most significant features of 5.1 is increased scalability, with the JFS2 enabling storage of large files of up to 4 petabytes. The Java 2 Technology edition provides a cooperative interface between AIX and Java for increased application scalability.