Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 hits the streets today, on March 14 and, having been around for the release of versions 3 and 4, if there’s one thing we are 100 percent confident in saying, it’s that this is by far the best Red Hat Enterprise Linux release ever. By far.

Of course this is easy to say when our partners and engineers have incorporated two years of development work into the product. How could it not be better? But a better product is not one with a bazillion new features. A better product is one with a collection of features that really meet customers’ needs and provides the quality, security and performance to go with it.

So while the engineers were beavering away to build a better mousetrap, the marketeers spent many months trying to understand what services customers wanted, why they wanted it, how they wanted it and so on. This was much tougher than usual because during 2006 the competitive landscape was changing very rapidly and everybody was trying to figure out how to leverage virtualization technology. Also, as Red Hat Enterprise Linux continues to grow explosively into new markets, we and our partners are always teaching new customers about Red Hat solutions. The trick to doing this quickly and successfully is to keep things simple.

To some extent the answers were obvious–existing customers want to reduce costs more than they already have with open source. New customers want to be able to adopt open source without risk. And everybody wants to make their slowly growing IT budget handle their rapidly growing IT workload. The classic do-more-with-less scenario.

The new packaging for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 was designed with all these factors in mind. We hope you will find the new products meet your business needs, are simpler to understand and allow you to get more IT bang for your buck.

So, what’s the result? The big kahuna result is a really terrific new product called “Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform.” This is the product that most of you are going to want. Lots of technology, great pricing, everything needed to deploy a completely virtualized environment, delivering the ultimate in operational flexibility.

But let’s look at the changes in more detail:


We eliminated the AS & ES server variants, while providing easy migration to the new products, which are:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform

Red Hat Enterprise Linux replaces Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES. Nice and simple. No ES any more. ES customers can download the new Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 bits immediately, and their subscription will move to the new name when they renew. The subscriptions and pricing remains the same. The critical point with the new product is that it includes server virtualization, supporting up to 4 guest operating system environments, and all the other new Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 features. Like the old ES product, it supports servers with up to 2 processor sockets. This is the classic Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but with version 5 you can do a lot more for the same price. We have a nice “What’s New in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5″ whitepaper that describes a number of the important new features, and our website has lots of information, so be sure to check them out.

With previous Red Hat Enterprise Linux versions, the AS and ES variants provided the same functionality, differing only in the size of server they supported. This all changes with version 5: Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform is very different from basic Red Hat Enterprise Linux in that it provides many additional features. (Of course both products use the same base package set – kernel, toolchain, libraries, utilities, etc. – so that application and hardware certifications apply to both products equally).

So, while Red Hat Enterprise Linux provides server virtualization for up to four guests, Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform provides everything needed for a much richer, fully featured virtualized environment – this means server and storage virtualization and the management tools to control it. To deliver this, Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform includes Red Hat Cluster Suite and Global File System products. These allow you to create a virtualized storage infrastructure for your virtual servers to use. A multi-system logical volume manager, a multi-system file system, a distributed lock manager, multi-system high availability failover. Why is this useful? Well, it means that when a virtual server or application is moved from one physical system to another (a standard capability of Red Hat virtualization) it will be able to access the same storage and data on the new system as before. It means that multiple guests on the same server can access the same storage connected to that server. And Advanced Platform supports an unlimited number of guests, and servers of any size (unlimited sockets). In a nutshell, the combination of server and storage virtualization make scalable and flexible deployments really practical.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform is priced the same as Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS. So AS customers will automatically move to the Advanced Platform when they renew their subscriptions. When they upgrade to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 with their current subscription, they will get all the new features, including virtualization with up to four guests. When they renew to Advanced Platform, the additional storage virtualization capabilities and unlimited guest entitlements kick in. And if they want to move to Advanced Platform before their subscription expires, they can simply contact Red Hat and we’ll sort out their subscription immediately. Of course, if Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES customers wish to upgrade to Advanced Platform, they can also contact Red Hat to get that arranged.

So Advanced Platform is where the action is – any server size, any number of virtual guests, full storage virtualization, high availability, total flexibility. All for the same price as AS. Can’t be beat.


We simplified the client environment by combining the WS and Red Hat Desktop products into a single new product:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop

This is a very nice desktop product with lots of new features–improved graphics, support for wireless widgets and laptop features, smart card login, etc. Representing the huge advances made to the Linux desktop over the past two years. At the same time we are also providing “Options” for Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop that can be used to enhance it. There are two options:

  • Workstation option. This upgrades Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop to be the equivalent to the old WS product – it adds a number of server packages for use in workgroup environments and supports large client systems.
  • Multi OS option. This adds virtualization capabilities to Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop, which, unlike the server products, does not have virtualization by default. The Multi OS option allows up to four guests to be configured. Some of these guests could be third party operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows. Of course we cannot actually support Windows, but we will certainly make best efforts to ensure that the Red Hat Enterprise Linux hypervisor provides a solid platform on which you could deploy Windows. We have seen Windows 2000/2003 Server, XP and Vista run.

From the other blogs being posted you will see that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 is an important brick in the wall of Red Hat capabilities. For most customers – the mainstream market – the combination of Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform and Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop will provide an incredibly powerful, flexible and easy to deploy IT environment. And the traditional workhorse product – Red Hat Enterprise Linux – is still there for smaller systems.