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Just when you were considering Red Hat Linux 6.5, here comes 7

Next beta release brings usual enterprise improvements

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Mere weeks after shipping the final version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.5, Shadowman has announced the first public beta of RHEL 7.

"Simply put, we believe Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 represents the future of IT," the company said in a press release. No, really.

Describing the new version as its "most ambitious release to date," Red Hat said it adds a variety of new features, whether customers choose to deploy it on bare-metal servers, virtualize it on hypervisors, or spin up instances on cloud infrastructure.

Where RHEL 6.5 was based on the upstream Linux 2.6 kernel, RHEL 7 will switch to the 3.10 kernel. By comparison, Oracle already uses kernel version 3.8 in own RHEL-clone Oracle Linux distribution.

The rest of RHEL 7's code will be based on the community-developed Fedora 19 distribution, aka "Schrödinger's Cat," which was finalized in July. Fedora 20 is currently in beta and is expected to ship next week.

Among the top new features of Red Hat's latest enterprise offering, RHEL 7 will now format drives with the XFS filesystem by default, enabling volumes of up to 500TB in size – although if you prefer the older ext4 filesystem, it's still included, and it now supports 50TB volumes. Also bundled is the Btrfs filesystem, which is being shipped with RHEL 7 as a technology preview.

The new release also improves support for large-scale enterprise storage arrays and provides new tools for managing heterogeneous storage environments.

Networking has likewise been beefed up, with new support for 40Gb Ethernet and overall improvements to the kernel TCP stack.

The new SAMBA 4.1 networking stack allows RHEL 7 servers to integrate with existing Microsoft Active Directory Domains, and admins can also set up parallel trust zones between Active Directory and Red Hat Enterprise Linux Identity.

The new RHEL release also supports deploying applications in Linux Containers, including Docker technology.

For a more detailed breakdown of what's included in the new release, you can consult the official release notes and the technical notes. Or, you can simply download the beta from the official site and see what's what for yourself.

As with all beta releases, Red Hat is encouraging early adopters to test this new version thoroughly and report any feedback, including potential bugs. An official release date for the final version of RHEL 7 has not been given, but based on past performance, it's likely that Red Hat will ship it in the first half of 2014. ®

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