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25 July 2008, 10:46

Red Hat issues Enterprise Linux 4.7

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Red Hat has released the seventh revision of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4, RHEL4 for short, which is aimed at corporate customers. The release contains large number of bug fixes and a lot of small improvements. In line with RHEL 5.2, RHEL 4.7 now uses Firefox 3. RHEL 4.7 also provides "para-virtualized" drivers. These drivers allow RHEL 4.7, when running as a guest in a paravirtualized environment as such as Xen, to access the virtualised hardware without any emulation. This in turn increases I/O throughput and reduces the load on the CPU.

Red Hat has cautiously extended the packages that were originally supplied with RHEL 4, so there are no obvious version number changes. The kernel is based on the now rather old Linux version 2.6.9, but Red Hat developers have back-ported many improvements from later kernels in order to support newer hardware. This means that RHEL 4.7 kernel can now handle Intel's I10 or AMD's new motherboard chipsets. Alongside updates for newer network and storage devices, RHEL 4.7 adds the bnx2x network driver for Broadcom's BCM5710.

Another first appearance is made by Aide, the Advanced Intrusion Detection Environment while Systemtap testing and debugging framework, previously only available as a "technical preview", is now among an officially supported component of the distrbution. Support for Autofs is noted as having its reliability significantly improved. Support for SHA-256/SHA-512 password encryption has also been incorporated to meet government security requirements.

Red Hat customers can download the updates of RHEL 4.7, or ISO images of updated RHEL 4 installation media, from the Red Hat Network. A fuller list of all changes in RHEL 4.7 can be read in the release announcement email. Red Hat notes in in the Red Hat News blog that this update marks the point where RHEL4 is entering the "autumn of its life cycle".

The company recently explained in detail the new support strategy that it presented at the Red Hat Summit 2008. RHEL version 4.8 is projected to arrive early next year, and will be the last "Full Support" update. This means it will be the last RHEL 4 release that will incorporate new hardware support or enhanced software.

Developers of distrubutions cloned from RHEL, such as CentOS, will now begin the cloning process using the source code of RHEL 4.7, and adding their extra functionality. This typically takes around three to six weeks. The CentOS developers recently issued a Live CD of CentOS 5.2 including current desktop applications and system maintenance tools. Red Hat does not have make Live CD releases of RHEL.


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