Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 released !

Submitted by dag on Wed, 2009/09/02 - 19:56

Today Red Hat released a minor update (v5.4) of their Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 product line. The minor releases comprise mostly of bug-fixes and feature enhancements and the official announcement is pretty light on both, likely because Red Hat has its yearly summit right now in Chicago. (And yes, I lack the budget to go there :-/)

To get a better picture at what is in RHEL 5.4, you can read the Beta announcement and the (unusual) Beta update announcement.

The biggest changes are:

  • Official support for KVM virtualization (next to Xen virtualization)
  • Kernel support for fuse and xfs
  • Lots of kernel driver enhancement (back-ported video, audio, server hardware, kernel infrastructure, ...)
  • Lots of Technology Previews (things anticipated for RHEL 5.5) like
    • clustered samba
    • cluster virtualization
    • SPICE X11 drivers
    • FCoE (FibreChannel over Ethernet)
    • ext4 support
    • more SystemTap kernel tracepoints
    • gcc 4.4

If you think Enterprise Linux is dull and generally not sexy, think again, this is where the real action is. At least if you plan to *use* any of it properly :-)

Update: More information in Red Hat's "Press Release".
Update 2: And more technical information from the Release Notes

Dull is good

Dull is good, especially if you have to run this stuff in production. RHEL has been consistent about one thing from the beginning: it is reliable. When keeping a roof over your family's head depends on it, that's really important. Of course such dullness would be less bearable if it weren't for guys like Dag who do the hard work of providing all those extra packages not included in the core distro.

The development time spent on

The development time spent on RHEL 5.4 should have gone towards getting RHEL 6 out of the door instead. RHEL 5 is decrepit by this point; the kernel is three years old, for God's sake. I don't care for new features in more modern kernels as much as I want to be reasonably up-to-date in order to avoid having to rely on increasingly complex backports of security fixes that may end up breaking things due to the increasing divergence between mainline and the RHEL 5 kernel.

We had the breakage of NFS caching (making NFS practically useless) last year; what's it going to be next time? And when it happens, are we going to have to wait for the next release of RHEL 5 to get it fixed?

A computer should facilitate your life, not the other way around

Your comment reveals an ignorance about how Red Hat Enterprise Linux works. Different teams are working on different releases, mostly because the maintenance work on RHEL5 is very different from new integration work and development on the upcoming RHEL6 release.

That is why you can still run RHEL3 (which is almost 7 years old!), RHEL4 and RHEL5 and get security fixes for all three of them, while other people are preparing RHEL6. It's not an either-or thing, but rather an and-and proposition.

Of course, if you're only interested in the latest and greatest, you may not be the target audience an Enterprise Linux is looking for.

But that will change once you realize your computer exists to help you do work, rather than consume more time in spite of doing more work. And then the version or features or not that important anymore.

Maybe ?