Can I get a RHEL yeah? Version 8 arrives at last as IBM given go-ahead to wolf down Red Hat

All subsequent updates will have a Big Blue tint


Red Hat pushed out a minty-fresh update to its Enterprise Linux platform in the form of version 8 at its Boston shindig today.

It's been while since Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7 first put in an appearance – nearly five years – so version 8, which is likely the last before IBM completes its acquisition of the open-source outfit, is a little overdue having spent a few months lurking in beta.

Regarding the cash splashing, there were likely some Champagne corks popping and/or wailing of developers behind the scenes at the Boston Summit as the US Department of Justice finally gave the IBM the nod to swallow the company whole this week. The deal should close in the second half of this year.

Distributed with the Linux 4.18 kernel, the OS supports AMD and Intel 64-bit architectures, as one would expect, as well as 64-bit Arm, IBM Power Systems and IBM Z. Enterprises using the OS for cloudy purposes will also be pleased to note that the physical memory limitation of 64TB has been bumped to 4PB.

Hardware improvements aside, one of the more interesting updates is the introduction of Application Streams, which is aimed at dealing with the problem of the platform's components becoming rather stale as companies shy away from updates that could make things go wobbly.

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We had a chat with Senior Director Technology Strategy at Red Hat Nick Barcet about the tech back in November. Barcet got a bit excited about it all, regarding it as "huge progress" and pointed to containerized applications in the user space as key to dealing with pesky interdependencies.

The company has also improved management through the operating system's web console and beefed up security with the OpenSSL 1.1.1 and TLS 1.3 cryptographic standards. Red Hat Linux System Roles also make an appearance – basically Ansible modules to automated complicated sysadmin tasks. While greybeards will have their own box of tricks to hand, it'll save those new to the OS from hitting the web in search of example scripts.

We took the beta for a spin, and while we lack some of the exotic hardware now supported, we were pleased to see the GNOME Shell (3.28) staring back at us, with an on-screen keyboard and Wayland as the display server rather than X.org, which was used in previous versions.

Red Hat prefers the security model of Wayland, but the desktop will drop back to X.org if you try and use the Nvidia binary driver.

Of course, RHEL's natural home is in the data centre rather than the desktop, where stability is prized above all. RHEL8 continues the tradition of being the backbone for the company's cloud portfolio, be it on-premises or hybrid, including OpenShift and the upcoming beta of Red Hat Open Stack Platform 15.

The company stated that in-place upgrades from RHEL7 to RHEL8 are also supported, although we suspect that only the brave would do such a thing. There is, of course, no blinding rush to upgrade – maintenance for version 7 will continue for at least another five years. ®

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