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Red Hat: New Linux reaches Unix level

While Microsoft's coast-to-coast, carpet-bombing campaign to launch the next generation of its market-dominating Office productivity suite took center stage last week, the dominant Linux distributor was rolling out a new version of its flagship open-source product. Red Hat called the release "a major milestone" in its oft-stated strategy to penetrate the enterprise.

This version of the Raleigh, N.C.-based company's Linux distro is actually the second version to target corporate users, replacing the Red Hat Advanced Server product line. The new implementation is also part of the firm's effort to narrow the gap between Linux and rival Unix operating systems, execs said, by boosting scalability and performance, and extending system coverage and stability. In fact, Red Hat bills the new Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 as a "unifying platform" that can support a range of client and server hardware architectures.

Paul Cormier, executive vice president of engineering at Red Hat, contends that the new version marks a significant achievement in the maturation of open source and, by extension, cuts down on the demand for proprietary Unix systems.

Based on the Linux 2.4.21 kernel, the new OS is designed to support an increased number of IT deployments across seven hardware architectures, including Intel and AMD 32-bit x86 processors, Intel IA-64 and AMD 64-bit processors, IBM's iSeries and pSeries servers, and IBM's 31- and 64-bit mainframe OSs. It also includes a new default Logical Volume Manager for storage management, as well as support for the new Native Posix Threading Library. That means the operating system can support thousands of program-instruction threads rather than hundreds, which not only makes it more scalable, but also expands its multitasking capabilities for high-intensity uses.

Red Hat is offering different editions of its new Enterprise Linux for workstations, general use and data centers. The workstation edition incorporates the company's BlueCurve GUI for the first time, company reps said.

Prices for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 range from $179 for the workstation edition with basic support, to $1,499 for the data center edition with standard support. Higher support levels are priced at $299 for the workstation version with standard support, to $2,499 for the data center version with premium support.

The new versions are available free to existing users who have support contracts, said Red Hat.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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