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Most IT professionals would agree that modern operating systems are increasingly complex. For example, when the first Linux kernel was released in 1991, it included 88 files and 10,329 lines of code. Over the last 30+ years, the kernel has grown to more than 69,000 files and 28 million lines of code. And this growth shows no signs of slowing down. [Source for Linux kernel statistics: The Linux Foundation. “Linux Kernel History Report 2020,” 2020.]

As a result, IT administrators are faced with a seemingly never-ending stream of new features and configuration options to understand and manage. This includes not only core operating system components, but also a wide variety of developer tools—including compilers, runtimes, databases and web servers—that are often updated at their own cadence. 

To keep up with user and business demands, IT administrators need to be able to more quickly configure and deploy operating system and tool updates, then monitor for and rapidly resolve issues like slow performance and poor stability. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8.8 includes new features that make it easier to configure and monitor your systems while delivering new technologies to your users. 

Drive consistent configurations  

Creating efficient, consistent and repeatable system configurations is critical for managing large-scale environments. RHEL 8.8 gives you multiple streamlined ways to configure your deployments at any scale.

Image builder tool

The included image builder tool lets you create optimized operating system images with a customized set of security and system options using a graphical user interface. Now you can build images compliant with OpenSCAP security profiles and onboard Fast Identity Online (FIDO) devices. New system configuration options let you create, import and export blueprint files and enable or disable services and firewall rules. You can also define a variety of system parameters—including users, groups, SSH public keys, timezone, time servers, language, locale and installation devices—that were previously supported only through the command line interface.

System roles

After you create and deploy your customized RHEL images across your hybrid cloud environment, you can automate many common administrative tasks with RHEL system roles—a collection of Ansible automation content included in your RHEL subscription. New system roles include:

  • Podman. Quickly and more consistently configure Podman and deploy production-ready container workloads across RHEL hosts that are integrated with systemd.
  • journald. Automate the configuration of persistent logging in a systemd journal to help you find interesting and relevant information in log messages.
  • ad_integration. Directly integrate your RHEL systems with Microsoft Active Directory for centralized identity and access control.
  • rhc (remote host configuration). Automatically register your RHEL systems with hosted services like Red Hat Insights to access expertise and recommendations from the start.
  • Microsoft SQL. Automate the installation and configuration of Microsoft SQL Server 2017, 2019 and 2022. Support for enhanced Always On availability groups improve disaster recovery and scaling of read-intensive operations across multiple systems.

Improved integration between many roles—including metrics, nbde_server, vpn, microsoft.sql.server, ha_cluster, logging, postfix and cockpit—and the firewall and SELinux roles eliminates earlier manual port configuration processes. And integration of the certificate role with the ha_cluster, logging, Microsoft SQL and cockpit roles automates certificate creation processes.

Web console

Some configuration and management tasks—for both local systems as well as servers located in your network environment—are best done interactively via the RHEL web console’s intuitive browser interface

New options to configure automatic encrypted disk unlocking on root file systems using network-bound disk encryption (NBDE) lets you more easily protect data at rest without requiring Linux kernel expertise. Through system-wide policies, you can verify that cryptographic configurations for hosts are reasonable and follow industry and site-specific security policies.

Finally, improved capabilities for adding or removing groups from user accounts and searching and sorting existing permissions simplifies user administration.

Simplify delivery of new technologies to users

To create innovative applications, your developers need the latest features and updates in core technologies like compilers, runtimes, databases and web servers. At the same time, production applications are often dependent on specific tool versions to ensure reliable operation.

To meet the needs of all of your users, Application Streams let you update tools and technologies in RHEL separately from the core operating system. As a result, you can deliver updated versions of many popular technologies to your users. New Applications Streams in RHEL 8.8 include:

  • Python 3.11. The new version of Python delivers up to 60% faster performance than the previous version, while also introducing new features like structural pattern matching and improved error messaging and debugging capabilities. [Source: “What’s New In Python 3.11.” Python Software Foundation, accessed 4 May 2023.]
  • Nginx 1.22. The fast, lightweight web server, reverse proxy and load balancer now includes OpenSSL 3.0 compatibility—hardening against request smuggling and cross-protocol attacks— and Application-Layer Protocol Negotiation (ALPN).
  • PostgreSQL 15. The popular open source database offers better performance in archive and backup facilities, enhanced monitoring and observability, improved in-memory and on-disk sorting algorithms, and new SQL commands.
  • Compiler toolkits. New versions include GCC 12, LLVM 15.0.7, Rust 1.66 and Go 1.19.4.

Gain visibility into your systems

Once your systems are up and running, advanced monitoring tools within RHEL help you identify and fix issues before they become critical escalations. 

  • PowerTOP. Analyze and manage power consumption with estimates of the total system power use and individual power use for each process, device, kernel worker, timer and interrupt handler. Version 2.15 improves tool stability and system compatibility, and provides support for more of the latest CPUs and system platforms.
  • TuneD. Monitor and optimize system performance for a variety of use cases based on the needs of your workloads. Version 2.20.0 includes new application programming interfaces (APIs), enhancements to fine-tune CPU-related performance features and support for scaling algorithms to optimize power management settings.
  • Podman. Manage container sprawl, maintain a complete view of system activity and meet system activity auditing requirements with new enhancements to Podman. You can now track container creation events—both manually and as part of an automated workflow—and gather all relevant information about a container directly from a single event and journald entry. You can also define automated response actions—including remediation and mitigation—when containers fail a health check. As a result, containerized applications in remote or edge environments, even those with intermittent connectivity, can more reliably maintain consistency with centralized operations.

Support your users and business with confidence

RHEL 8.8 makes it easier than ever to configure and monitor your systems while delivering new technologies to your users. Learn more about the latest features in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.8.

Additional resources

About the author

Gil Cattelain is Principal Product Marketing Manager for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Cattelain has more than 20 years’ experience as a leader in high-tech software product marketing with a proven track record of managing major product releases and go-to-market strategies. Prior to Red Hat, Cattelain held product marketing leadership roles at Micro Focus, Novell, and Genesys, focusing on the endpoint management and DevOps/agile solutions, including digital marketing for the contact center market.

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