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IBM's 'bare metal' LinuxONE push: Did somebody say OpenShift?

Plus RHEL has fresh release goodies out too

Red Hat has released betas of RHEL 8.7 and 9.1 while its parent company IBM is offering Linux mainframe instances in the cloud, although only in some regions.

If you're looking for some particularly resilient home in the cloud to run Linux workloads, Red Hat's parent company IBM has a new mainframe-based Infrastructure-as-a-Service product out under the LinuxONE umbrella, which it has dubbed "bare metal servers."

As we described a few years ago, IBM offers a whole range of different hypervisors on mainframes, including PR/SM (akin to a hypervisor in the firmware) and the native Linux in-kernel hypervisor KVM. One of the company's flagship mainframe OSes, z/VM, is perhaps more commonly used to manage VMs on Z series, but it's cheaper to rent LinuxONE mainframes because they've been tweaked to only run Linux, excluding any native IBM mainframe OSes.

It's noticeable that the announcement specifically mentions Red Hat's container management platform OpenShift – maybe not unrelated to Red Hat's new CEO Matt Hicks, who was one of the original OpenShift team.


As for RHEL, the beta versions of 8.7 and 9.1 are out. But you shouldn't compare RHEL point releases to, say, the Ubuntu short-term releases that most people are more familiar with, as we described when 8.6 came out. When most Linux distros put out a point release, all the components have been upgraded to slightly newer versions. That means a round of testing and integration work to make sure that whatever you need still works on it.

Red Hat, on the other hand, earns its living by maintaining each given release of its distro over many years, ensuring that the main package versions remain the same, while fixing bugs and security holes, and backporting bug fixes and drivers from newer versions to the old codebase. So RHEL 8.7 will be very similar to 8.6, and RHEL 9.1 will be very similar to 9.0 – but with lots of bug fixes, and with some new functionality added.

Red Hat's combined announcement highlights the sorts of things that big customers will like to hear: authentication, automation, and security improvements.

Some features apply to both versions. There are updates to development tools, including Ruby 3.1, Maven 3.8, and NodeJS 18, which includes a newer version of the V8 runtime. Improvements to authentication methods include managing smartcard sign-on via Ansible, plus support for new external services for credentials, including Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure. Signaling the better cooperation between rivals these days, Red Hat talks about its improved support for Microsoft .NET 7 and SQL Server on RHEL hosts.

The RHEL web console, which is based on Cockpit, receives considerable attention. You can change the default port and crypto policies, manage firewalls and kernel live-patching, download installation images, monitor Podman containers. In the interface itself, you can pin particular services; label, encrypt, or obfuscate sosreports, and list older reports; and quickly find which CPUs have the highest usage.

For developers, RHEL 8.7 brings GCC 12 to the RHEL 8 family for the first time, and RHEL 8.7 gets Mercurial 6.2. New in RHEL 9.1 are PHP 8.1, improved multi-level security, plus attested boot, so that users can verify that servers' boot processes have not been tampered with.

There's much more information if you need it.

The RHEL 8.7 beta announcement gives an overview, with detailed specifics in the release notes. The same applies to the RHEL 9.1 beta announcement and release notes. The Customer Portal has download links. ®

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