For as long as there has been a Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) there has been a beta ahead of each minor release update.  Betas allows customers to get a preview of changes to come, test major features, and provide feedback or report issues before the final release.  While timing has varied over the years, it became very predictable since Red Hat Enterprise Linux moved to a 3-year/6-month release cadence target for major and minor releases, respectively.  Since then, major release (E.g. RHEL 9.0) betas have been provided 6 months before each major release, while minor release (E.g. RHEL 9.3) betas have been provided approximately a month before each minor release update.

Do Betas Improve the Release?

The answer is a resounding: It depends. For new major releases, the 6-month release window has been a great success: It provides a predictable amount of time for customers, partners, and the software ecosystem, in general, to get ready for all the new features and capabilities that will soon be available.  For minor releases, there is often too little time to be able to deliver bug fixes found during that beta. This means a change is called for.

What is Changing

Starting with RHEL 9.5, minor release versions will be simplified. This means releasing packages earlier, and continuously, while reserving documentation, full installation media and virtual machine images for the full release.

Beta Packages

As soon as an upcoming minor release has completed its initial phase of development and testing, the packages will be released to the beta channels. This means that the packages will be published up to 4 months in advance of the upcoming release. Additional updates will also be published weekly.

Installation Media

To help support this earlier and more rapid release process, no installation media will be proactively generated for RHEL minor release betas.

This includes:

  • Pre-built ISOs
  • Cloud Images
  • QCOW Virtual Machine Images

Red Hat Image Builder will gain the ability to generate beta images in the various supported formats. In addition, Satellite customers can continue to be used to host this Beta content.

Product Documentation

In a similar fashion, the product documentation will be reserved for the full release in order. This is to make the published revision fully reflective of the new release.

What is Not Changing

Prerelease packages will continue to be published to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux beta channels (now several weeks before the traditional beta release) in the following repositories:

rhel-9-for-<arch>-baseos-beta-rpms

rhel-9-for-<arch>-appstream-beta-rpms

Development in CentOS Stream continues and remains the preferred place for community development, testing and contribution to future Red Hat Enterprise Linux minor releases.

There will be no changes to any planned minor release within RHEL 8 or earlier.  This change only impacts RHEL 9.5 and later, and will continue into RHEL 10 minor releases starting with RHEL 10.1.

Partner access to RHEL prerelease content will continue to be delivered through their existing content delivery channels.

Testing

As with all beta content, there may be bugs encountered and it is not recommended for production use. More information on the RHEL beta approach can be found in “What does Beta mean in Red Hat Enterprise Linux and can I upgrade a RHEL Beta installation to a General Availability (GA) release?

For Red Hat customers, please reach out to Red Hat Customer Support for any issues encountered and they would be happy to file a bug report on your behalf.