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Red Hat Summit and JBoss World 2011

At the start of May, Red Hat held its annual company summit in Boston, where it showcased several new products, including OpenShift, CloudForms, the JBoss Certified Developer Program and JBoss Enterprise Data Grid. As ever, Red Hat Summit and JBoss World 2011 included an exhibition area where Red Hat and many of its partners exhibited their products.

The main attraction for many visitors remained the 140+ talks and presentations which were held in up to eleven rooms concurrently. Videos of the 'best of' talks and keynotes can be streamed or downloaded in OGG and MP4 format from the Red Hat Summit web site. PDFs of many of the presentation slides from the talks can also be downloaded from the web site. These not only have comprehensive information on current and future Red Hat products but also a lot of detailed background information and practical tips, some of which may be useful for users of other distributions.

Tuning up and a billion files

One presentation of potential interest is "Performance Analysis & Tuning of Red Hat Enterprise Linux" (slidesPDF) given by John D. Shakshobe and Larry Woodman. The presentation, which is also available as a video (1, 2), includes an examination of the benefits that can be achieved by configuring and fine-tuning NUMA, control groups (cgroups), huge pages, I/O schedulers, SRIOV and power management features. It also includes benchmarking results for some of the tweaks described and some of the new technologies introduced in RHEL 6.

Red Hat manager Ric Wheeler's presentation "One Billion Files: Pushing Scalability Limits of Linux File Systems" (slidesPDF) contains information on tests and benchmarks in which disks were formatted with the Btrfs, Ext4 and XFS file systems and loaded with up to a billion files. LWN.net last year produced an overview of an earlier version of the same presentation. In the latest version, Wheeler also explores some of the major enhancements recently made to these file systems, including delay logging in XFS and lazy inode initialisation in Ext4, which makes file system creation several times faster. The former was made a standard feature in Linux 2.6.37, the latter was also merged into the kernel; both are now set to be put to the test in Fedora before making an appearance in RHEL 6.2.


Zoom The slides for the summit presentations include many hints towards the direction of future enhancements.
Source: redhat.com
RHEL & RHEV

This year's summit did not include an outlook for future versions or minor updates of RHEL. Instead, in a presentation entitled "Red Hat Enterprise Linux Roadmap" (slidesPDF, handoutPDF, video of the first and second halves), the heads of various RHEL development sections discussed how an imaginary company might improve its IT infrastructure using the functions introduced in RHEL 6. The examples cited included the use of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) to avoid having to install fibre channel cabling and the use of control group (cgroup) based virtualisation and resource management to reduce the number of systems while ensuring that critical systems have adequate system resources.

"Overview & Roadmap of Virtualization in Red Hat Enterprise Linux" (video, slidesPDF) – a much more technical presentation with lots of benchmarking results – provides some background information on virtualisation-related changes, including the advantages offered by vhost_net, which was introduced in 6.1.

An excellent overview of the future of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) was provided by the presentation "Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Roadmap" (video, slidesPDF). It includes lots of information on RHEV 3.0, currently a work in progress but scheduled for release at the end of the year. It will use the hypervisor from RHEL 6 for virtualisation, which promises improved performance and adds a number of new functions. The video and slides also discuss enhancements to the SPICE protocol for desktop virtualisation (VDI/virtual desktop infrastructure).

In version 3.0 Red Hat also plans to use open source technologies to replace the proprietary technology it acquired as part of the Qumranet acquisition. To this end, Red Hat has ported the RHEV-M code from C# for Windows to Java and JBoss for Linux. This means that the RHEV management product will no longer require a Windows server back end. For now, however, a Windows system with Internet Explorer still appears to be required to use the web interface, though this shortcoming should be fixed in RHEV-M 3.1.

Several more presentations deal with some of the most recent changes relating to RHEV and virtualisation in RHEL and with changes currently in the pipeline:

"Red Hat Enterprise MRG Update & Roadmap" (slidesPDF) offers an insight into ongoing development on RHEL MRG (messaging, realtime and grid). Version 2.0 is scheduled for release in the summer and should support RHEL 6 and Windows 7 and 2008 as execute nodes. More information on the realtime side of MRG and tweaks in this area can be found in the slidesPDF for the "Red Hat MRG Realtime: Tuning Systems for Maximum Determinism" campground session held at the periphery of the presentations.

More topics

There were also many other presentations offering copious background information on Red Hat products and general Linux topics:

Also well worth a mention are "Red Hat PaaS: The Full Scoop" (slidesPDF), which looked at the new OpenShift PaaS product, and the two part "Red Hat Network Satellite Power User Tips & Tricks", aimed at RHEL administrators (1, 2). There were also plenty of talks on JBoss, for example, "Accelerate, Prune, Trim, & Slim your JBoss" (slidesPDF) and "Geographic Failover for JBoss Clusters" (video, slidesPDF).

The slides for many other presentations can be found on the Red Hat-Summit web site, which, as well as PDFs from the Red Hat Summit and JBoss World, also has PDFs from the Best of Both Worlds track and campground sessions.

If you still haven't had your fill of Red Hat, you might be interested in the keynote speeches given by senior Red Hat figures. The videos of the speeches by President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Whitehurst, Executive Vice President Paul Cormier and CTO Brian Stevens give a good insight into Red Hat's ideas, direction and vision for the future. The other keynotes, most of which are delivered by partner companies, contain little new information and some are rather self-congratulatory and dry, but an exception is the amusing, if sometimes off-topic, keynote from self-appointed innovation expert Jeremy Gutsche.

Faster cycles

During the Red Hat Summit, The H's associates at heise Open had the opportunity to talk to Jim Totton, Vice President of the Platform Business Unit. He explained that there are no specific plans for RHEL 7 at present, but that the gap between RHEL 6.0 and 7.0 is likely to be shorter than the three and a half years which elapsed between 5.0 and 6.0, which he felt was too long. Minor RHEL releases will in future follow more closely than has recently been the case, with a return to a 6-month cycle under consideration.

There are no plans to change the way the source code for the RHEL 6 kernel is delivered. Red Hat came in for some criticism in March because it was no longer saving changes made in kernel 2.6.32 as individual patches in the source code RPM. Brian Stevens elucidated the reasons for the change in a blog posting.

Boston again

According to Red Hat, this year's Summit was the largest ever. Next year's event will be held for the third time running in Boston from 26 to 29 June. There will, however, be a change of venue from the World Trade Center Boston, used for the 2010 and 2011 summits, to the Hynes Convention Center, which hosted the Red Hat Summit and JBoss World in 2008.

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