Red Hat Makes Itself More Available

eWEEK Labs' tests of the final code of Red Hat Linux 7.2 show there aren't a lot of changes in the newest update, but the biggest change-the addition of a journaling file system-is an important advance for the operating system.

There arent a lot of changes in the newest update of Red Hat Inc.s Red Hat Linux, but the biggest change—the addition of a journaling file system—is an important advance for the operating system.

eWEEK Labs tested final code of Red Hat Linux 7.2, which starts shipping next week and costs $60 for 30 days of support or $200 for 180 days of support. Version 7.2s use of the ext3 file system, the follow-on to Linuxs default ext2 file system, will provide Red Hat customers with higher availability for their file servers.

Ext3 uses the ext2 disk format—which allows for in-place, no-reformat upgrades—but adds a journal, or transaction log, for storing updates made to the disk. Commit and checkpoint records are used for tracking exactly when data was written to disk.

In case of improper shutdown, the journal lets the operating system roll forward pending changes to the disk, a far faster operation than the mandatory complete disk check performed by ext2 on system reboot. We saw disk check times after a power loss drop from about 10 minutes for a server with several large disks using ext2 to about 5 seconds when we upgraded to ext3.

Ext3 is now the default file system type for new installs. When upgrading, we could simply check off which ext2 file systems we wanted to update, and the installer did so automatically.

However, we were disappointed that there wasnt at least the option to use three features available for Linux: the ReiserFS file system (supported in the operating system but not the installer), logical volume management and file access control lists. The latter two are important for the enterprise, and wed encourage Red Hat to move forward quickly in these areas. SuSE Linux AGs SuSE Linux is a good choice for those wanting a mainstream Linux distribution with a more aggressive development approach.

Red Hat Linux 7.2 also includes the KDE 2.2.1 and GNOME 1.4 desktops, and Red Hat has integrated server configuration programs into a new Start Here window in the GNOME 1.4 Nautilus file manager.

Version 7.2 also has new graphical system configuration programs for network configuration, user and group management, time settings, viewing installed hardware, and starting or stopping services. The Red Hat programs are capable, but we prefer Ximian Inc.s more integrated and feature-rich Ximian Setup Tools, even though they are still in beta.

West Coast Technical Director Timothy Dyck can be reached at [email protected]