Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 features and benefits

Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® 3 was introduced in September 2003 and supported until October 31, 2010. All Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscriptions allow you to upgrade to any supported release.


Extended Lifecycle Support (ELS) is available for renewal customers who need to continue use of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 in a supported configuration. While most Red Hat Enterprise Linux customers will wish to use a later release, running earlier releases may be appropriate for certain environments. For example, when installing a new system that needs to be identical to existing systems.


This page provides a brief overview of new features that were included with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.



  • Support for multiple architectures:
    Intel X86, Intel Itanium2, AMD AMD64 and IBM zSeries, POWER Series, and S/390. (With Update 2, delivered in May 2004, support for Intel EM64T was added.)

  • 4-4 memory split:
    Increased kernel and user address space for X86 systems, allowing support for 64GB of main memory and larger user applications.

  • Native Posix Thread Library:
    A high-performance multithreading capability that provides improved performance for multi-threaded applications.

  • Based on Linux 2.4.21 kernel:
    Red Hat Enterprise Linux uses a stable Linux 2.4.21 kernel with numerous features included from the Linux 2.5/2.6 kernels. See Enterprise Linux 3 kernel features.

  • Improved scalability:
    Support for larger SMP, memory and I/O systems allows version 3 to support servers approximately twice the size of version 2.1.

  • Forward compatibility:
    Version 3 includes compatibility libraries so it can run version 2.1 applications without modification.

  • Standards and Certification:
    LSB 1.3 and NIAP Common Criteria, Section 508 support

  • Improved desktop:
    Includes Red Hat's GNOME-based graphical user interface, and a comprehensive set of personal productivity applications.

  • Enhanced security:
    Includes several new security features, including support for file system ACLs.

  • Bundled Stronghold:
    Red Hat's secure web server solution, previously available as a separate layered product for Enterprise Linux AS, has been updated to Apache version 2 and included as part of the base Red Hat Enterprise Linux product set.

  • Improved compiler/tools:
    Includes GCC 3.2 and debugging/profiling tools.

  • Logical Volume Manager:
    Provides enterprise-strength storage management.

  • Enhanced networking:
    Includes numerous features to improve stability and performance.

  • Support for Samba 3
    Provides numerous new features, including improved interoperability with Microsoft Active Directory and Windows 2000/XP/2003 printing support.

  • Documentation and software available in 10 languages:
    English, Japanese, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Korean, Italian, French, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Spanish.

Additionally, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 supports a portfolio of over 1,000 ISV applications and is certified by leading OEM suppliers on more than 600 hardware systems. For full details on software and hardware support, please refer to Red Hat software catalog and Red Hat hardware compatibility list.