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Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 9 Beta is now available and delivers exciting new features and many more improvements. RHEL 9 Beta is based on upstream kernel version 5.14 and provides a preview of the next major update of RHEL. This release is designed for demanding hybrid multicloud deployments that range from physical, on-premises, public cloud to edge.

RHEL 9 Beta is available for the following hardware architectures:

  • Intel/AMD64 (x86_64)

  • ARM 64-bit (aarch64)

  • IBM Power LE (ppc64le)

  • IBM Z (s390x)

RHEL 9 Beta is something of a departure from previous major releases of RHEL. While it contains many improvements and enhancements customers have asked for, it has fewer changes that require admins and IT Ops to learn new ways of doing things. Familiar with RHEL 8? Then RHEL 9 Beta will help you feel right at home but with some welcome improvements and new features.

Let's take a look at what's in RHEL 9 Beta.

Simplified automation and management 

We remain committed to providing Operations teams with tools and best practices to make the most efficient use of their most valuable resource - time. In support of this goal, we continue to focus on making RHEL easier to automate and deploy at scale. Some of the new items you'll see in RHEL 9 Beta include:

  • Enhanced web console performance metrics -- Access to additional information will allow you to better identify the potential causes of performance bottlenecks. We’ve also made it easier to export these data to leading analysis and reporting tools like Grafana.

  • Kernel live patching via the web console -- Sensitive to system downtime? You can now leverage the power and ease of use of the web console to also apply live kernel updates.

  • Streamlined image building -- You'll find several image builder improvements in RHEL 9 Beta, including the ability to build RHEL 8 and RHEL 9 images via a single build node, better support for customized file systems (non-LVM mount points) and bare metal deployments. 

Enhanced security and compliance

Security remains one of the leading concerns for our customers, and RHEL 9 Beta delivers a number of capabilities to help increase peace of mind and help you meet your strict compliance requirements. 

  • Smart Card authentication via web console -- Users can make use of smart card authentication to access remote hosts through the RHEL web console (sudo, SSH, etc.).

  • Additional security profiles -- To help achieve compliance with standards like PCI-DSS, HIPAA, and others. When coupled with intelligence gathering and remediation services such as Red Hat Insights and Red Hat Satellite, customers now have access to powerful tools to rapidly resolve compliance issues at scale.

  • Detailed SSSD logging -- SSSD, the built-in enterprise single-sign-on framework, now adds more detail for events such as time to complete tasks, errors, the authentication flow and more. New search capabilities provide admins the ability to analyze performance and configuration issues.

  • Integrated OpenSSL 3 -- Apply the latest security standards with the new OpenSSL 3 cryptographic frameworks. Built-in RHEL utilities have been recompiled to utilize OpenSSL 3 to provide organizations with new security ciphers for encrypting and protecting data.

  • Integrity Measurement Architecture (IMA) digital hashes and signatures -- You can now dynamically verify the integrity of the OS to detect rogue modifications across your infrastructure.

  • SSH root password login disabled by default -- RHEL 9 disallows users to log in as `root` with a password to prevent brute force attacks gaining access via passwords.

Improved container development

2021 Containers-pattern-Blog-thumbnail.pngIf you're building applications with UBI container images you'll want to check out the RHEL 9 Beta UBI base images. The standard UBI image is available, as are micro, minimal and the init image. To get the full experience, test the UBI images on a fully subscribed RHEL 9 Beta container host, which will allow you to pull additional RPMs from the RHEL 9 Beta repositories. 

RHEL 9 Beta also ships with cgroup2 by default and a recent release of Podman with new defaults for RHEL 9. Users will get signature and short-name (e.g.: ubi8 instead of registry.access.redhat.com/ubi8/ubi) validation by default when pulling container images, so this is a great opportunity to test container-based applications with the "out-of-the-box" configuration planned for RHEL 9.

Provide developers with a simplified experience

RHEL 9 Beta ships with GCC 11 and the latest versions of LLVM, Rust and Go compilers empowering developers to modernize their applications. Also, Python 3.9 will be the default version for the life of RHEL 9 and bring new features to assist developers build their applications, including timezone-aware timestamps and new string prefix and suffix methods, and dictionary union operations. And last, all packaging methods in RHEL 9 including modules, SCLs, Flatpaks, and traditional RPMs are included in application streams making them easier to use.

Built in the open and driven by collaboration

This is a watershed release for us. RHEL 9 is a bold step towards Red Hat developing a commercial Linux distribution from CentOS Stream. The CentOS Stream project has allowed us to increase transparency in how we build the distribution; it has also allowed us to reduce the time it takes to test, stabilize and release the distribution. We anticipate that this will allow our ecosystem to get a rapid turnaround on their contributions; it will also allow our user base to get more frequent previews into future versions of RHEL. We remain committed to our open source development model.

Easy to download and test

You don't have to wait to learn more, it's our goal to make it easy to test RHEL 9 Beta. We recently removed requirements to sign up for RHEL Beta access, which means that Red Hat accounts (including members of the no-cost Red Hat Developer program) have unlimited access to Red Hat Beta Access subscriptions. Learn more about this on the Red Hat Customer Portal in "Introducing the new Red Hat Enterprise Linux Beta experience."

We'll have a lot more to say about what's coming in RHEL 9 as we continue working towards general availability. Make sure to watch the RHEL Blog for deeper dives into RHEL 9's components and features. 


About the authors

Gil Cattelain is 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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Joe Brockmeier is the editorial director of the Red Hat Blog. He also acts as Vice President of Marketing & Publicity for the Apache Software Foundation.

Brockmeier joined Red Hat in 2013 as part of the Open Source and Standards (OSAS) group, now the Open Source Program Office (OSPO). Prior to Red Hat, Brockmeier worked for Citrix on the Apache OpenStack project, and was the first OpenSUSE community manager for Novell between 2008-2010. 

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