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Red Hat releases 2.6 test version of Fedora

Linux distributor Red Hat announced the availability of Fedora Core 2, a test version of the Fedora Project based on the 2.6 kernel.

Red Hat Inc. announced Thursday the release of a test version of Fedora Core 2 that is based on the recently released 2.6 Linux kernel.

Fedora is a hobbyist version of Linux that is constantly being updated and likely does not offer the stability an enterprise would require for its mission-critical systems.

This is the first of three phases of the Fedora Core 2 release schedule, which runs through April 19, said Brian M. Stevens, vice president of engineering.

Fedora Core 2 is really about two things: 2.6 and SELinux. These are two huge, monstrous projects meeting each other for the first time.
Brian M. Stevens
Vice president, engineeringRed Hat Inc.

Stevens said that Red Hat on Thursday also released the alpha version of the next installment of Red Hat Enterprise Linux to OEMs, partners and large customers for review.

Fedora Core 2 is based not only on the 2.6 kernel, but also on Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux), a hardened version of Linux developed by the National Security Agency. SELinux includes "strong, flexible mandatory access control architecture incorporated into the major subsystems of the kernel," according to the NSA's Web site. "The system provides a mechanism to enforce the separation of information based on confidentiality and integrity requirements."

Red Hat is hoping for feedback from developers and testers that can be taken into account as subsequent test versions are developed. This is the first 2.6 distribution available for public review, and Stevens expects the feedback Red Hat receives to be crucial to the continuing development of the 2.6 kernel.

"You never expect [the feedback] you get back," Stevens said. "It's always the unknowns that are interesting. This is critical exposure."

In this test version, Stevens said SELinux must be booted separately for it to work. Stevens noted that the policy around SELinux needs to be refined. He expects that the second test version of Fedora will have SELinux turned on by default.

"Fedora Core 2 is really about two things: 2.6 and SELinux," Stevens said. "These are two huge, monstrous projects meeting each other for the first time. We want to see if these technologies can be merged in the mainstream this way."

Red Hat currently supports only Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The company is expected to end support for Red Hat Linux 9.0 in April. It has already announced a 2003 end of life for Red Hat Linux versions 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 and 8.0.

This is Red Hat's first offering based on the 2.6 kernel, though many critical features were back-ported into RHEL 3.0, which is based on the 2.4.21 kernel. Stevens told in January at LinuxWorld Conference & Expo that RHEL 3.0 contained the same network stack and threading model as 2.6, among other features.

Fedora Core 2 was at one time slated for a Feb. 2 release, but a Red Hat developer posted news of a delay to discussion forums. "In short, it's not working quite well enough to push out yet," the post read.

Fedora Core 2 also includes GNOME 2.5 and KDE 3.2RC1.

FEEDBACK: How likely is your enterprise to download Fedora Core 2? Which features are you eager to test?
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