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Today we released the second update to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5. As with earlier minor releases, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 comes with a broad set of bug fixes, updated hardware support capabilities, quality improvements, and a set of new software features that have been backported from upstream open source projects to the Enterprise Linux 5 code base.

Of course, we don’t normally make a big deal about the release of a minor version, but for this update we’ve decided to go wild and issue a pair of blogs. In this one we will talk about the new features and capabilities on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2. In the other we will highlight something that we are proud of and applies to all Red Hat Enterprise Linux releases, our software maintenance and lifecycle policies.

Enterprise Linux 5.2 Highlights

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 enhancements we are releasing are primarily focused in six areas:

  • Virtualization
  • Laptop and Desktop improvements
  • Encryption and Security
  • Cluster & Storage Enhancements
  • Networking & IPv6 Enablement
  • Servicability


Virtualization Enhancements

5.2 provides improved virtualization support for larger system configurations. This includes enhanced virtualization support for NUMA-based architectures. Also, Physical CPU support has been increased to 64 CPUs per system, and Memory support to 512 GB per system. These enable customers to implement large scale consolidations. Complementing this increased scalability, the number of network interfaces per guest is no longer limited to 3.

Libvirt, which has become the de-facto standard-base for hypervisor-agnostic Open Source virtualization management and was originally developed by Red Hat, continues to evolve rapidly and has seen significant improvements in 5.2.

We also back-ported the CPU frequency scaling capability for the virtualization kernels from the upstream kernel. This provides reduced power consumption and improved virtualization performance and stability (please see the Release Notes for list of supported CPUs).

Also, right before Enterprise Linux 5.2, we released new virtualization-aware, para-virtualized (PV) device drivers that can be used by a fully-virtualized guest instance of Red Hat Enterprise Linux running on a Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.1 or later host. Fully-virtualized guests using the new PV drivers gain significant I/O performance improvement. PV drivers are available for x86 and x86-64 RHEL 3u9, 4.6, and 5.1 guests and later.

Laptop and Desktop Enhancements

On the Desktop the biggest change is a wholesale refresh of the primary Desktop applications:

  • Evolution 2.12.3
  • Firefox 3
  • OpenOffice 2.3.0
  • Thunderbird 2.0

We also significantly improved laptop support, with Suspend/Hibernate/Resume enhancements that allow us to certify more laptop systems.

Also, many graphics drivers where updated, including a backport of the "intel" graphics driver commonly used in Desktop and Laptops.

Encryption and Security Enhancements

On the encryption and security side, we introduced new asynchronous kernel crypto hardware driver APIs into the upstream Linux kernel and back ported them into 5.2. This sets the foundation to allow the use of cryptographic hardware devices for kernel-based cryptography such as disk-encryption and IPSec.

In an effort to improve security and comply with tightening corporate and governmental security standards, we added SHA-256 / SHA-512 password encryption support as well as RFC4303 compliant auditing support.

For rsyslog we added a new and improved logging facility that supports different logging-backends, live-analysis interfaces and tcp connections.

Cluster & Storage Improvements

Red Hat Cluster Suite, which is included in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Advanced Platform, now has a Resource Event Scripting Language that enables sophisticated application failover capabilities. It also newly supports SCSI-3 reservation fencing support for active/active and active/passive DM/MPIO (multipathing), which widens the range of storage devices that can be used in clusters.

Improved iSCSI support allows users to set-up diskless systems with a root volume on the iSCSI server, a common requirement in high-density Blade environments.

Networking and IPv6 Enablement

In networking space, we improved the general IPv6 compliance and SNMP IPv6 support, to the point that we believe Red Hat Enterprise Linux is in a leading position when it comes to IPv6 readiness. Also, with the newly added OpenSwan package, 5.2 now supports IKE 2 for IPv6 IPSec support. Support for the DHCPv6 client and server was also improved.

NFS received client support for servers with 64-bit inode numbers, while the OFED stack enabling Infiniband and RDMA was updated to the upstream version 1.3.


On the serviceability side, SystemTap kernel tracing now is fully supported, while user-space tracing was added as Technology Preview.

So, that’s the story with 5.2. For additional information, please refer to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 Release Notes, which can be found on Our next Red Hat Enterprise Linux minor release will be 4.7 which is planned for release in June.