Red Hat Enterprise Linux release 2.95 AS Beta (Taroon) Preview

Red Hat released the beta for their upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) line. The release is tagged release 2.95, Taroon. The next official release will probably be called RHEL release 3 (as usual, Red Hat does not confirm their upcoming release version and date).

0. Introduction

The beta comes in two flavours.
– RHEL release 2.95 AS for server and clustering solution
– RHEL release 2.95 WS for workstation

Click for a larger viewThe current production release, which is RHEL release 2.1 has 3 different flavours, namely the RHEL AS for clustering, RHEL ES for enterprise server and RHEL WS for workstation. Red Hat release notes highlighted that the ES is similar to the AS and thus the beta comes in 2 flavours.

In order to test the RHEL AS, 3 ISOs are required.
– taroon-i386-as-disc1.iso
– taroon-i386-disc2.iso
– taroon-i386-disc3.iso

The second and third iso are common to both AS and WS while the first iso image for the RHEL WS is taroon-i386-ws-disc1.iso

Download all 3 iso images, burn it, put in the first CD and the installation starts. This review is on RHEL release 2.95 AS, ia32 platform.

The hardware used for this review is as below:
– Intel Celeron 1GHz, Asus CUSI/FX, 256MB SDRAM
– Western Digital 40GB IDE harddisk, SONY IDE CD/RW drive

To run the clustering solution of RHEL AS, the hardware requirements are very strict. Basically you will need
– Two servers, processors, memory etc.. πŸ™‚
– Four NICs on two servers (two for external ethernet connections, two for internal ethernet heartbeat).
– A null Serial cable for serial heartbeat.
– A power switch which enables Shoot The Other Node In The Head (STONITH).
– Local storage to host the AS installation.
– Fibre Channel Host Base Adaptor (HBA) on both server.
– A shared storage, preferably Fibre Channel share storage to store all shared files.
Check the RHEL AS Installation Guide, the hardware requirements are detailed down to the model number. πŸ™‚

As you can see, the testing platform is no where near the recommended hardware requirement, thus I did not test the clustering solution.

1. Installation

The installation routine is very similar to Red Hat Linux 9 (RHL 9), with the nice GUI and similar setup screens. Just configure as you would for a normal Red Hat Linux installation. However, there are some new features as opposed to the AS 2.1 installation
– You will be asked for root password during the installation, but not the option to create new users. User creation will be done during the firstboot screen when the server boots for the first time
– The ability to create LVM volume during installation

Installation is pretty straight forward, with the package selection screen similar to what is in RHL 9. There is an extra package group call the Red Hat Enterprise Linux which contains 5 packages.
– clumanager, which is the High Availability (HA) clustering solution.
– piranha, clustering solution based on Linux Virtual Server (LVS).
– redhat-config-cluster, the new GUI to configure HA clustering.
– redhat-config-netboot, GUI to configure diskless environment and network installations.
– tux, the khttpd server.

Note that if you are interested in testing the Taroon using VMWare Workstation V4, the BusLogic SCSI driver had been taken out from the default installation kernel. You would need to configure an IDE virtual disk to perform the test.

2. Operations

Click for a larger view For those interested in the full feature list of the Taroon, refer to the Release Notes. Some new features will be mentioned below, but not all.

The GUI desktop is the familiar BlueCurve, without the OpenOffice icons, since this is suppose to be a server installation. Similarly, GIMP and other graphical tools are missing as well, which makes sense.

Some notable changes, advancements or additions
– Kernel is based on 2.4.21, with a lot of Red Hat internal patches. Check the changelog ‘rpm -q –changelog kernel’
– Implementation of the Native POSIX thread library
– Default compiler is the gcc-ssa, although gcc is still available
– Inclusion of Eclipse IDE, while the required Sun JDK 1.4.1 has to be downloaded separately.
– Inclustion of tux, which is the kernel based HTTP server.
– Support of IPv6.
– iptables is the default packet filtering tool, you can setup basic firewall rules during installation time.
– The inclusion of ‘redhat-config-packages’ which helps solve dependencies when installing standard packages.

The following is the server list and their version.
– Apache, version 2.0.46, the default web server.
– php, version 4.3.2, server side scripting.
– Tomcat, version 4.1.24, the Java servlet container.
– Samba, version 3.0.0 beta3, which supports the Active Directory, thus making integration with Windows 2000 easier.
– vsftpd, version 1.2.0, the Very Secure FTP server, is now a full Sys V service, no longer under xinetd.
– NFS kernel implementation together with nfs-utils version 1.0.3, now supports NFS over TCP.
– bind, version 9.2.2, the default DNS server.
– sendmail, version 8.12.9, the default mailer. Postfix is available if you do not want to run sendmail.
– openssh, version 3.6.1, for encrypted communications.
– squid, version 2.5STABLE3, for content caching.
– imap-2002d, for POP3 and IMAP4 server.
– MySQL server, version 3.23, SQL server.
– amanda server, version 2.4.4p1, the opensource network based backup solution.
– Clumanager, version 1.1.73, the HA clustering solution.

Development tools
perl, version 5.8.0
python, version 2.2.3
gcc-ssa, version 3.5ssa, 20030617 snapshot.
– gdb version 5.3, GNU debugger.
– DDD version 3.3.1, graphical debugger.

Graphical interface, if you really wanted it.
– GNOME 2.2.2
– KDE 3.1.2

On current production release AS 2.1, clustering solutions has to be configured using the command line tool cluconfig. In the latest beta version, the GUI tool ‘redhat-config-cluster’ takes over while other cluster related tools are still command line based.

3. Conclusion

Click for a larger viewThe desktop looks more polished, together with the newer Mozilla 1.4 web browser. Evolution 1.4.3 is not in default installation. The access menu is still the same arrangements that is similar to RHL9.

The development tools got updated, perl moved to 5.8.0, and python _finally_ moving to version 2.2.3! The gcc-ssa while being experimental, is now the default compiler. The stable gcc compiler is now an addition grouped under “Compatibility Arch Support” of the redhat-config-packages GUI Package Management tool.

All the servers that shipped in Taroon are pretty up-to-date. AS 2.95 introduced Tomcat, Apache 2.0, Samba 3.0, vsftpd, compared to Apache 1.3, Samba 2.2 and wu-ftpd in the current released AS 2.1.

Seems like Samba 3.0 will be included in the final release of the RHEL. With the latest support for Active Directory, RHEL will be well positioned to take over file and print service. Tomcat would allow RHEL to act as a platform for J2EE solution. The improved cluster management will ensure AS to be the leading HA solution on Linux.

Compared to RHEL AS 2.1, AS 2.95 features an impressive improvement over the current version. No doubt the next production release of RHEL will continue to be the preferred platform for enterprise.

About the Author:
Boon Kiat works as a Principle Consultant at Integer Knowledge Pte Ltd, Singapore. A Red Hat Certified Engineer, he works on Zope, his preferred web platform when he can find some free time.


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