Pre-release version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5
Red Hat has released a beta version of its Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5 Linux distribution for testing. Red Hat Enterprise Linux, aka RHEL, is aimed at enterprise customers. As well as bug fixes released since RHEL 5.4, at this stage of the RHEL life cycle the next incarnation of RHEL5 also includes extensive new functionality and numerous drivers for supporting newer hardware.
The Linux distributor has, for example, made various enhancements to KVM, now Red Hat's preferred virtualisation solution, introduced in RHEL 5.4. These allow more flexible allocation of the amount of memory available to guest systems at runtime and better pass through of PCI devices to guest systems. The new RHEL beta also includes support for a number of recently, or soon to be released, AMD, IBM and Intel processors and their associated chip-sets. There are new drivers for storage and fibre-channel adaptors from various vendors. Red Hat has updated its Wi-Fi drivers and at the same time added the ath9k driver for newer Atheros Wi-Fi chips. The Linux distributor has also freshened up various desktop applications, OpenOffice among them.
A brief overview of the major changes can be found in the release notes and more detailed information in the technical notes. The beta test phase runs until mid April and Red Hat usually concludes development work a few weeks later, so that RHEL 5.5 can be expected to be released in April or May at the latest.