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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 ships, but still no RHEL 7 in sight

Containers and KVM and cloud – oh my!

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Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.5 has reached general availability following a six-week beta period, making it the first minor release of RHEL 6 to ship since version 6.4 in February.

As with previous RHEL 6 point-releases, the update doesn't bring any massive changes to the platform, but it does add support for a few important new technologies that enterprises will want to get their hands on during the lead-up to RHEL 7.

For example, this is the first RHEL release to include support for Docker application containers. Red Hat has been working with Docker (née dotCloud) to integrate its open source containerization technology for the past few months, and with this release, admins can deploy Docker images in physical, virtual, or cloud environments.

The system's virtualization capabilities have also been beefed up. RHEL 6.5 now supports KVM guest virtual machines with up to 4TB of RAM, and sysadmins can now enable and disable virtual CPUs in running VMs on the fly. The KVM hypervisor can also directly access GlusterFS volumes for the first time.

For those who prefer to run RHEL guest VMs on a different hypervisor, on the other hand, RHEL's guest device drivers have been improved to deliver better performance.

Customers who are looking for sub-microsecond clock accuracy – think financial applications – will be pleased to note that RHEL 6.5 now supports the Precision Time Protocol (PTP) over the local network. Network admins also gain a better view of network traffic by inspecting Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) data.

A number of storage improvements have made it into the release, including support for NVM Express (NVMe)–based SSDs, the ability to configure more than 255 LUNs on a single iSCSI target, better control and recovery from SAN for iSCSI and Fibre Channel, and the ability to create system dumps for debugging machines with lots of RAM (as in terabytes).

Security has also been tightened up, with a new, system-wide certificate trust store that can be shared by Network Security Services, GnuTLS, OpenSSL, and Java. In addition, OpenSSL has been updated to version 1.0.1, which brings a number of new encryption methods, including several for elliptic curve encryption.

And as usual, Red Hat has added support for a bunch of new hardware with this release, but it's being coy about exactly what chips it now supports, particularly when it comes to support for Intel and AMD components that have yet to ship. One change it can talk about, however, is that RHEL 6.5 now supports AMD systems with more than 1TB of RAM.

You can read the full list of updates in the release notes here, and if you'd like to dive down into the details, the technical notes are available here.

RHEL 6.5 is available for download now for all customers with active support agreements. As for when RHEL 7 might ship, that's still an open question. Although Red Hat originally hinted that it would arrive by the end of this year, it now looks as though we won't see the next major RHEL revision until early 2014. ®

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