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RHEL 6 supports the deep sleep states of modern processors and such power management features as ASPM (Active State Power Management) and ALPM (Aggressive Link Power Management), all designed to reduce both the power consumption in the server room and the battery life of notebooks. The network manager now used for network configuration has Wi-Fi capabilities, which is particularly interesting for notebooks.

In terms of advancements for desktop users, Red Hat also highlights the improved support of dual screen systems, beamers and docking stations. These options, as well as high resolution text consoles and a fancy boot animation, are all made possible mainly by the Kernel-based Mode setting (KMS) feature. The standby mode (suspend to RAM / ACPI S3) now also works more reliably with KMS. The Nouveau open source driver is now responsible for NVIDIA graphics.

Zoom A GNOME desktop can also be installed on the server version of RHEL[ ]6.
Red Hat comes with Firefox 3.6 and OpenOffice 3.2. GNOME 2.28 is the default desktop environment; KDE 4.3 is also included. Developers will find OpenJDK 6, Eclipse 3.5 and GCC 4.4 among the distribution's components. The OpenChange project's MAPI implementation allows Evolution to access Exchange servers. Updated printer drivers improve the distribution's output quality; the printer configuration program now configures various devices fully automatically. Red Hat has integrated the SPICE protocol for virtualising desktop PCs. Similar to RDP, this protocol allows virtualised desktops to be displayed via the network.


Like its predecessor, RHEL 6 uses the Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) security extension which restricts the privileges of applications to the required actions and, in RHEL 6, controls additional system services. sVirt is a set of SELinux rules which isolate virtual machines in order to prevent potential attackers from exploiting a security hole in the hypervisor to access the host system or other virtual machines from a guest system.

However, the added security features require administrators to understand the way the security solution works, as SELinux may otherwise prevent things that are supposed to work, just like a restrictive firewall sometimes does. For instance, if the file labels stored in the extended attributes (EA) are incorrect in /var/www/html/, Apache is not allowed to read them. The distribution's well-written and highly detailed documentation describes how to set the right labels for Apache and other services. The setroubleshoot program can help with solving problems caused by SELinux. SELinux can temporarily be suspended for troubleshooting via setenforce 0, and it can be disabled permanently via the /etc/selinux/config configuration file.

A different world

RHEL 6 is based on version 12 of the Fedora community distribution, which is sponsored by Red Hat; however, Red Hat has already integrated numerous improvements that were added to subsequent Fedora versions. Fedora users should find Red Hat Enterprise Linux quite familiar, although Fedora and other distributions for end users do differ in various important aspects.

For instance, the software range of RHEL is tailored to suit corporate customers. As a result, RHEL 6 only offers about 4,000 packages for installation, while current versions of Fedora offer around 18,000 RPM packages. Many games, additional desktop environments such as Xfce and numerous less popular applications are not included. The EPEL (Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux) package repository, which is maintained as part of the Fedora project, offers some of the software for installation via PackageKit or the Yum package manager. Yum is noticeably faster in RHEL 6 than in the previous version.

Just like Fedora and openSUSE, RHEL does not contain proprietary drivers such as those for graphics chip-sets by AMD and NVIDIA. GStreamer plug-ins or multimedia programs like MPlayer, VLC or Xine, which are required for playing back patented audio and video formats (including MP3) are also missing. In Ubuntu, such components are copied to disk almost automatically once installation is complete; in Fedora or openSUSE, they can be installed manually via a few simple add-on repositories. EPEL does not offer such software packages, but repositories such as Atrpms, Dag, Elrepo or RPM Fusion will probably bridge this gap eventually. Even then, however, installing these software components will be more complicated than in distributions like Ubuntu.

Next: Persistence

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