Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7: Final Full Support Update

Open source solutions provider and long-time Java community leader Red Hat announced the general availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7 (RHEL 7.7) this week. This is the final release of the platform with full support, and marks the transition of RHEL 7.7 to Maintenance Support 1, the second of the four phases of the RHEL 10-year lifecycle.

As the name implies, Maintenance Support 1 emphasizes maintaining infrastructure stability for production environments and enhancing the reliability of the operating system. Future minor releases of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 will focus solely on retaining and improving this stability, rather than net-new features.

The list of new features in RHEL 7.7 includes enhancements to help operations teams maintain control and consistency of their workloads across environments:

  • Red Hat Insights is the company's expertise-as-a-service offering, which helps users proactively detect, analyze and remediate a variety of potential software security and configuration issues before they cause downtime or other problems.
  • Full support for image builder, a RHEL utility that enables IT teams to more readily and easily build cloud images for major public cloud infrastructures, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.
  • Network performance improvements for Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat OpenStack Platform by offloading virtual switching and network functions virtualization (NFV) to network controller hardware.

"As the hybrid cloud takes hold as a preferred production environment for mission-critical workloads, maintaining stability and consistency across all IT footprints is key," said Stefanie Chiras, VP and GM of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, in a statement. "With Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7, we show our continued commitment to the 10-year Red Hat Enterprise Linux lifecycle while also introducing key new features, like image builder and Red Hat Insights, to help IT organizations get the most from their existing Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 investments."

This transition to Maintenance Support 1 follows the timetable of the 10-year lifecycle plan for versions 5, 6, and 7 of the platform. The Full Support phase lasts for five years, Maintenance Support 1 lasts for one year, Maintenance Support 2 lasts for three and a half years, and an Extended Life phase, during which customers may purchase annual add-on subscriptions called Extended Life-cycle Support (ELS), is potentially ongoing.

For users of RHEL 7, however, the company only offers subscription services for each release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host, Red Hat Enterprise Linux for ARM, Red Hat Enterprise Linux for Power LE (POWER9), and Red Hat Enterprise Linux for IBM System z (Structure A) for Full Support Phase (and not Maintenance Support 1 or 2 Phases) support followed by an Extended Life Phase.

Support for RHEL 8 will also be provided on the Ret Hat ten-year lifecycle plan. Red Hat wants to make the transition to RHEL 8 easier for its customers with in-place upgrades. RHEL 7 customers have until 2024 to upgrade.

IBM completed its acquisition of Red Hat in July. The $34 billion deal was Big Blue's largest acquisition to date, and one of the largest tech company acquisitions in history. At the time, Arvind Krishna, SVP of IBM's Cloud and Cognitive Software, said the acquisition marked "Chapter Two of our cloud journey." He also emphasized that, although Red Hat is now part of IBM, there is no plan to consolidate resources with a layoff or merge cultures. "Both companies have salesforces, and both have channel programs," he said, "and it will remain that way. We would love every possible partner to be partners for both, but they are not becoming one."

Red Hat has been involved with Java and open source technologies for many years. The company has contributed to OpenJDK, the open source implementation of Java, since 2007, when it signed Sun Microsystems' OpenJDK Community TCK License Agreement. The TCK (Technology Compatibility Kit) is the official test suite for compliance of implementations of Java Specification Requests (JSRs); they can only be provided by the spec lead of a JSR. Red Hat was the first big software vendor to license the TCK.

Also, Red Hat has stepped in three times to take on the stewardship of OpenJDK projects no longer supported by Oracle -- OpenJDK 6 in March 2013, OpenJDK 7 in June 2015, and OpenJDK 8 in April 2019.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].