Those itching to get their hands on Red Hat's next version of Enterprise Linux now have a chance.
Red Hat's community of enterprise users is now testing Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 Beta 1, code-named Tikanga.
Though some had expected the first beta of RHEL 5 sooner, a Red Hat spokesperson told internetnews.com that it is progressing according to schedule and the company is pleased to now release a public beta.
RHEL 5 will be the first major version update to Red Hat's flagship distribution since February 2005.
But that doesn't mean Red Hat and its distributions have been stagnant this whole time.
The company has released four incremental RHEL 4 updates, the most recent in August.
Red Hat's Fedora Core community Linux distribution has gone through several version updates since RHEL 4 was first released and is now on the verge of its Fedora Core 6 release for early October.
According to Red Hat, the development of RHEL 5 is closely aligned with Fedora Core 6 and the upstream community.
Among the key new features in RHEL 5 is the inclusion of Xen Virtualization, which is one of the main release drivers.
Xen has appeared in Fedora Core since version 4 and has since improved in subsequent releases to ensure better integration.
For its Red Hat Enterprise debut, Red Hat has put its Xen implementation through extensive testing and hardening to ensure what it hopes will be reliable enterprise production deployment.
Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 already ships with Xen.
Beyond just virtualization, RHEL 5 will also improve upon SELinux as well as clustering, network storage and smartcard integration.
The new release, though, doesn't necessarily answer all users' needs or wants.
One Red Hat user, in a beta mailing-list posting, noted disappointment in not finding integrated support for the ReiserFS and XFS file systems in RHEL5.
The post yielded a few replies from other Red Hat users, most which were in support of Red Hat's decision not to include reiserfs and XFS and instead just to stick with the default ext3 filesystem.
"At this time ext3 is as good as XFS and ReiserFS are," Milan Kerslager wrote. "So this is worthless to have two similar FS in the kernel and do double work in-house to support both FS to satisfy a minority part of customers."
A release candidate is scheduled for a late fall release, with the official launch set for early winter.
This article was originally published on internetnews.