CentOS Stream^W^W Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9 emerges in beta form

We're on a highway to RHEL

IBM tentacle Red Hat on Wednesday unveiled the beta for version nine of its eponymous Enterprise Linux product, now built from CentOS Stream.

This version is due for official release in 2022. Its predecessor debuted in 2019, the year IBM closed the deal to acquire the Linux distro, and it right now stands at version 8.4, which was released in May 2021.

Red Hat's Gil Cattelain and Joe Brockmeier said: "RHEL 9 Beta is something of a departure from previous major releases of RHEL."

Hmm, what might that be? "While it contains many improvements and enhancements customers have asked for, it has fewer changes that require admins and IT Ops to learn new ways of doing things."

In other words, while there are plenty of new bits and pieces in the distribution, there shouldn't be enough to scare away RHEL 8 administrators and users.

Four hardware architectures are supported in version nine: the Intel/AMD x86_64, Arm's aarch64, and IBM's ppc64le and s390x. It uses the upstream 5.14 Linux kernel, which brings with it a wealth of tweaks and updates since the 4.18 kernel of RHEL 8.

In terms of new toys, live patching of the kernel is possible via the web console, and security has been shored up, with built-in utilities recompiled for OpenSSL 3, various enhancements, and finally a disabled-by-default password-based SSH root login, which is hoped to thwart brute-force attacks on superuser accounts.

Other updates include Python 3.9, GCC 11, and up-to-date versions of LLVM, Rust, and Go toolchains.

However, for better or worse, it is CentOS Stream that will mark RHEL 9 out from its predecessors.

Last year, CentOS morphed into CentOS Stream, which was based on a development branch of RHEL and not so useful for production workloads. CentOS, on the other hand, was a robust distribution for users happy to do without Red Hat's support. Much to the anguish of some fans, IBM-Red Hat decided CentOS Linux 8 would be the end of the line for the distro, meaning no CentOS Linux 9 or beyond.

Instead, as promised, CentOS Stream 9 was released this year "as part of the RHEL 9 development process," as Red Hat put it. Essentially, CentOS Stream tracks just ahead of RHEL, like a rolling beta of RHEL, and as such can be used as a glimpse into what the next RHEL release will look like.

Red Hat this week insisted, "We remain committed to our open source development model," adding: "RHEL 9 is a bold step towards Red Hat developing a commercial Linux distribution from CentOS Stream."

You can check it out yourself if you have a Red Hat account. The software house recently dropped the requirement for users to request RHEL Beta access, opening up Red Hat Beta Access subscriptions to all. ®

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