Red Hat Makes Gains

Enterprise 3.0 beta adds desktop and administration improvements.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 Beta 1

The latest in Red Hats line of enterprise Linux distributions, which we tested in beta, offers enterprises a solid, affordable option for their network operating systems. Whats more, with a raft of desktop-oriented improvements pulled from the 8.0 and 9 releases of Red Hat Linux, the new enterprise edition of Red Hat Linux should serve well the needs of mainstream corporate client systems. More information is at
















  • PRO: Smooth Bluecurve GUI for KDE and GNOME; support for logical volume management; support for access control lists in the file system.
  • CON: Distribution channel for vital, nonfree add-ons such as Java virtual machines and Flash Player remains unclear; on the desktop, lacks range of application availability enjoyed by Windows.

• Microsoft Corp.s Windows XP 2003 • SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 and SuSE Linux Office Desktop • Apple Computer Inc.s Mac OS X 10.2

Red Hat Inc. is nearing the second release in its line of Linux distributions geared for the enterprise, and the new offering builds on Red Hats server-room strengths while emerging as a strong candidate for desktop deployment.

The prior version of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), 2.1, was based on Red Hat Linux 7.3—now a year and a half old. (At Version 7.3, Red Hat branched off development of the enterprise flavor, and RHEL 3.0 is the latest along that branch; the more quickly evolving Red Hat Linux is at Version 9.)

Much has changed since RHEL 2.1 became available, particularly desktop suitability. The beta we tested, code-named Taroon, features desktop improvements that initially appeared in Red Hat Linux. Most noticeably, Taroon is clad in Red Hats sharp-looking Bluecurve user interface theme, which impressed us in Red Hat Linux 8.0 and 9.

Taroon ships with the XFree86 4.3 graphics subsystem, as well as with GNOME (GNU Object Model Environment) 2.2 and KDE (K Desktop Environment) 3.1.2. It also includes the 1.0.2 office productivity suite, Ximian Inc. Evolution 1.4.3 mail client and Mozilla 1.4 Web browser.

Taroon became available for free download from Red Hats FTP site in late July. Red Hat officials said they plan to ship RHEL 3.0 next month. As with Version 2.1, the new release will come in workstation, departmental server and data center server versions, with the high-end version priced at about $2,500.

Taroon supports Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s x86_64, Intel Corp.s ia64, and IBMs ppc64 and s390x 64-bit platforms, in addition to AMDs and Intels 32-bit x86 platforms. Red Hat supported ia64 in its last enterprise release; its support for AMDs x86_64 architecture, the one on which AMDs Opteron chips are based, is new.

Taroon includes support for LVM (logical volume management), a method of allocating hard drive space into logical volumes that can be easily resized. During tests, we were pleased with the features usability. LVM first surfaced in the 8.0 release of Red Hat Linux, and Linux rival SuSE Linux AG has offered the capability for some time. Windows and Solaris operating systems have similar volume manager capabilities.

The operating system runs on a kernel based on Linux Version 2.4.21, which includes the Native Posix Threading Library. It ships with the open-source Eclipse Development Environment 2.1, which needs a Java virtual machine to run, but Taroon doesnt ship with one.

Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at