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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 review

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Pros: Secure; robust and evolved virtualisation; improved security management and IPv6 support

Cons: Little in the way of eye-candy

With the recent release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.0, Red Hat is both following and bucking server operating-systems trends we’ve witnessed in past tests of Novell’s SuSE Linux and Microsoft’s Longhorn beta code.

Following suit with Novell’s SLES 10 and Microsoft’s Longhorn, RHEL5 sports user session controls with its enhanced Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux) implementation and Xen-based server virtualisation technology. With this release, administrators can couple these two technologies to provide multiple server operating instances with secured sessions running underneath, for a kind of one-two punch of reliability and user session isolation from root-access issues.

In the bucking-trends column, while Microsoft’s current tack is to make a different version for nearly every kind of server imaginable (multiplied by OEM server options), Red Hat with this release cuts the number of versions down to two major categories, server and client, with a further delineation for 32- and 64-bit CPU genres. There are no separate versions for a Storage Server, Certificate Manager Server, Small Business Server or Left-Handed Freckled Linux.

Also, while Red Hat has made a few minor GUI enhancements, RHEL5 doesn’t offer much in the way of eye-candy adjustments to its interface like Microsoft and Apple consistently do with their operating-system upgrades.

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