Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 may not be replacing Advanced Server 2.1 installations in record numbers, but it has reached a landmark certification status that no other Linux distribution has.
The Free Standards Group has certified RHEL 3.0 across all platforms that the organization has judged to be Linux Standard Base (LSB) runtime environments, including all x86-compatible architectures, like Itanium and IBM's iSeries, S/390 and zSeries platforms. RHEL 3.0 is the first to be LSB certified on the iSeries, S/390, pSeries and zSeries platforms.
"It's harder for non-LSB distributions to be accepted by enterprises that care about standards, like governments, for example," said Brian Stevens, vice president of Red Hat's operating systems development group. "They want LSB compliance."
The LSB standardizes core Linux functions and tools, enabling independent software vendors (ISVs) to support all Linux distributions and reach a wider market. Oftentimes, whether or not an OS is LSB certified can be a deal-breaker for an enterprise.
"The certification of Red Hat Enterprise Linux as an LSB-compliant runtime environment is an indicator of the rapid advancements Linux has made in the enterprise," said Daniel Quinlan, chairman of the board of the Free Standards Group, in a statement. "LSB certification is critical to companies and their customers to ensure compatibility across an enterprise infrastructure."
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 was released in October and includes a native Posix threading library that increases performance of multi-threading applications. The new version also comes with improvements to SMP support, more memory and better security features. RHEL 3.0 is based on the 2.4.21 Linux kernel.
With the 2.6 kernel due within weeks, Red Hat said it is unlikely to develop a 2.6 version of RHEL until the next release cycle, which is anywhere from 12 to 18 months away. In the meantime, Red Hat's Stevens acknowledges that the large installed base of Advanced Server 2.1 customers may be staying put.
"Some may not upgrade for a couple of years and may skip RHEL 3.0 entirely," Stevens said. "Adoption of RHEL 3.0 is happening less with AS 2.1 customers and more on iSeries, zSeries and pSeries and with Opteron [AMD's 64-bit compatible processor]. Those folks have not had a solution from Red Hat until now.
"There was a lot of pent-up demand, especially on the application server and Java spaces. Java requires heavy threading. That's where we're seeing RHEL 3.0 adoption."
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