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09 January 2013, 15:48

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.9 introduced

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Customers with a Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) support contract are now able to download version 5.9 of the company's Linux distribution. The new release updates RHEL 5 to include Microsoft's Hyper V driver, OpenJDK 7 and Samba 3.6. This minor version update of RHEL 5 also marks the completion of the first support phase of the revised Red Hat support life cycle; it has taken five years to get to this point – RHEL 5 was introduced in 2007.

The integrated Hyper V driver is designed to make the Linux distribution work better under Microsoft's hypervisor – for example in clouds with Windows hosts. The drivers that have been developed by Microsoft have been part of the official Linux kernel for some time, but didn't meet the kernel developers' quality requirements up until a few months ago; this was probably the reason why Red Hat previously disregarded these drivers. The developers have also updated the more recent of the two included Samba variants to version 3.6; this version is part of the Samba3x packages and supports the second generation Server Message Block network protocol (SMB2), which is said to produce less overhead during data exchanges and works faster as a result. Red Hat has also updated the SystemTap system diagnostics software to version 1.8, introducing various minor improvements. Further new additions are OpenJDK 7 and version 5 of the rsyslog system logging service. However, both are optional, which means that systems will continue to use OpenJDK 6 and the older version of rsyslog unless users manually switch to the newer versions.

As usual, Red Hat has improved the distribution's support for new processors and has updated a whole range of drivers – including the bfa driver, which supports the Brocade Fibre Channel host adapter and is no longer classified as a technology preview. A new RHEL 5 component is the ib_qib driver that is intended for Qlogic InfiniBand host channel adapters and supersedes the ib_ipath driver, though that driver continues to be usable. Further details of the new features can be found in the product announcement and in the RHEL 5.9 release and technical notes.

Zoom The RHEL life cycle
Source: Red Hat

The completion of the first support phase has marked the beginning of the Production 2 Phase in the life cycle of RHEL 5. In this phase, Red Hat will no longer integrate any major new features such as those introduced in RHEL 5.9. Even driver updates and other new hardware support improvements will only be made if they don't require much effort. Red Hat will, however, continue to issue minor releases and make new installation images available that include all changes made up to that point. This second maintenance phase will end in the first quarter of 2014. After that time, Red Hat will reduce the distribution's maintenance even further in the Production 3 Phase, which will still provide security patches and bug fixes, but no further minor releases or updated drivers.

Zoom Support phases of RHEL 5 and 6
Source: Red Hat

The third maintenance phase of RHEL 5 will end in the first quarter of 2017, but customers will be able to purchase three further years of support and extend the overall maintenance period of RHEL 5 to a total of thirteen years. If Red Hat keeps to its current release rhythm, RHEL 9 should already be available when this phase is complete. A first beta of RHEL 7 has been scheduled for the first half of 2013, and version 6.4 is already in beta testing. The fourth minor release of RHEL 6 should become available in a few weeks; in addition, Oracle Linux, CentOS, Scientific Linux and others will probably release their usual free-of-charge RHEL 5.9 clones over the coming weeks.


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