What's Coming in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5
The next release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is in beta. The release notes give a clue as to what's coming in RHEL 5.5, including improvements to virtualization and support for new platforms from Intel, AMD, and IBM's Power7.
Improvements to virtualization mean better memory management and use of devices. RHEL 5.5 will allow virtual machines running under KVM to use PCI devices as if attached to the guest OS, rather than running as virtualized devices. If deployed on machines using Intel VT-d extensions, PCI devices can be reassigned while a system is running and attached to another guest OS. In addition, RHEL 5.5 will also allow reallocation of memory during runtime, so it won't be necessary to shut down a guest OS under KVM to increase or decrease its allocated RAM.
Kernel updates in RHEL 5.5 will enable AMD's new processors, Intel's new Boxboro-Ex and Boxboro-MC, and IBM's Power7. Power7 has been getting quite a bit of attention and could be a major platform for Linux.
This release also includes a number of updates to drivers, improvements to SystemTap, an update to FreeRADIUS 2, and Samba. A full and detailed list of package updates is available on the Red Hat Website.
The 5.5 release will also include a fair amount of functionality for technology preview purposes. This includes stateless Linux, the Ext4 filesystem, Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), GCC 4.4, and support for the Intel Trusted Platform Module. See a longer list on Dag Wieers site.
Access to the beta requires a subscription to the Red Hat Network. The beta is scheduled to last through March 16, 2010, and the final release date has not yet been announced.