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IDG News Service - For the next generation of its flagship enterprise Linux distribution, Red Hat aims to support new cloud technologies while preserving the ways of the seasoned system administrator.
"We're trying to bring capabilities into the future for our customers who want to do next-generation architectures," said Mark Coggin, Red Hat senior director of RHEL product marketing. "At the same time, we still have the obligation to deliver against all the core attributes that have made RHEL successful."
The first public beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.0, issued Wednesday, incorporates some of the latest technologies in virtualization, storage and interoperability with Microsoft Windows. The company has been working on RHEL 7 for more than three years. It was built from Fedora 19, using the upstream Linux 3.10 kernel.
Containers are one emergent technology RHEL 7.0 embraces. Containers are like virtual machines in that multiple containers, each containing a separate application, can run on a single server. Like VMs, each container is isolated from all the other containers. But unlike VMs, containers all share the same, single OS kernel of the server.
Containers have long been a feature in Oracle's Solaris Unix distribution, though recently have found favor in the larger Linux community as well, due at least in part to the growing popularity of Docker container technology.
"Customers are recognizing that containers give them a lot of capabilities [to run] lightweight portable applications that have low overhead and easily scale and move across physical and cloud architectures," Coggin said.
RHEL 7 supports Docker and other Linux containers. It will provide the ability to partition each application container, limiting the amount of CPU, memory and bandwidth resources each uses. To manage these resources, RHEL will use the libvirt toolkit that the distribution has long used to manage virtual machines.
By using libvirt, "we tried to preserve the knowledge base that administrators have learned over many years, so they can use it in RHEL 7 and in the cloud," said Ron Pacheco, Red Hat senior manager for platform product management.
RHEL 7 is also keeping abreast of new developments in file systems. For the first time, RHEL will use XFS as the default file system. First developed by SGI, XFS is a high-performance journaling file system designed for managing large sets of data and heavy parallel workloads. In RHEL 7, XFS will support up to 50TB of data, and can store blocks of data in sizes up to 1MB, which can help reduce fragmentation as well as time the server spends doing block allocation.
Users wary of switching to the cutting-edge XFS can still use the previous file system, ext4, or another advanced, though still experimental, file system, Btrfs.
Also on the cutting edge in RHEL 7 is some work done to make the KVM (kernel-based virtual machine) hypervisor understand NUMA (non-uniform memory architecture). NUMA configures working memory in large systems so the data resides as closely as possible to the computer processor that uses that data. Recognizing NUMA will allow KVM virtual machines to work close to the bare-metal speed of the server, Pacheco said.