The road to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta
By: Date: 31/01/2019 Categories: azure

Now that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta is out in the wild, I wanted to describe the process that got us here. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta is the culmination of several years of feature development by Red Hat engineers and many others, in open source communities that we refer to collectively as “upstream.”

In these upstream software projects, contributions from our hardware and software partners, community members, and even our customers are designed, developed and refined. Work from the Linux kernel, the GNOME community, and thousands of individual projects are then integrated in the Fedora distribution as a release such as Fedora 28, from which we branch to form the base of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

All along this path, Red Hat engineers work closely in these upstream communities and Fedora, and must represent what is best for both our customers, our partners, and for the upstream project itself. It’s a delicate balance, which is one reason why we are very proud of the talent and integrity of our engineering teams.

The components integrated into each Red Hat Enterprise Linux release are reviewed and hardened for security and quality. They are optimized and performance tuned, to create a Red Hat Enterprise Linux distribution greater than the sum of the parts.

Because we build for an enterprise environment, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 also focuses on several themes that matter in an enterprise environment. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 needed to be easy to adopt and to manage, both on day one and in ongoing production deployments. It had to be ready for the cloud, any and every cloud. And it had to address the needs of developers as well as system operations teams, and strongly support the rest of Red Hat’s product line.

How work upstream improves Red Hat Enterprise Linux

These themes led us to develop Composer, which allows the easy creation of custom cloud images with tailored content. And to simplify the content layout with Application Streams (AppStreams).  And to enhance and improve the Web Console, the user-friendly, web-based interface for administering Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers. There’s even an updated package manager, Yum 4, which improves performance and dependency management.

All of this was in addition to major updates to the kernel, security features, networking, storage, virtualization, and userspace components that are a normal part of a major Red Hat Enterprise Linux release.

We have focused hard on giving developers the right tools to develop applications with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta. The GNU Compiler Collection has been updated to 8.2, and Python 3.6 and Python 2.7 are both available. The kernel now supports eBPF tracing for some tools as well, including BCC, PCP, and SystemTap. With AppStreams, we want developers to have the freedom to choose the right version of tools like NodeJS to meet the needs of the business when delivering applications.

We have also worked to give greater control in tightening system security. You can now set a system-wide crypto policy that will be enforced for your applications. And with LUKS2 and enhanced network-bound disk encryption, you can manage volume encryption at scale.  

Of course there are many kernel updates such as 5-level page tables, which give Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 the ability to manage 128 virtual / 4 physical petabytes of address space. And the extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF) support allows the creation of userspace code snippets that can be used in the network code paths and for kernel tracing.

I could go on and on about all of the new features and benefits in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 beta, but the bottom line is a consistent foundation that we believe will help reduce friction and cost of delivering critical business workloads across hybrid cloud.

The cutting room floor

It’s worth mentioning that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta is the culmination not only of the work you see in the end result, but also of the work you don’t see in the final product. In the process of developing Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 we’ve explored a number of features and ideas in Fedora and other upstreams that ultimately did not make the cut.

The beauty of open development upstream is that we can see what works and what doesn’t long before it finds its way into a supported product. If an idea or implementation is a dud, we’ll hear that loud and clear from other developers and users quickly. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 beta is more than the sum of its parts, it’s also benefited greatly from things we’ve chosen not to include or to refine greatly before bringing them to our customers.

We want to hear from you

Now, we are proud to send the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta into the world and hear your thoughts. See for yourself!  We invite you to download the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta today to see how Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 is designed to give you greater control over your applications in the hybrid cloud.