Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 (RHEL) has had a good run and continues to be used by organizations around the world. On April 26, Red Hat announced the RHEL 6.10 beta, providing stability and security updates.
RHEL 6 was first released in November 2010 and was superseded as the leading edge of RHEL development when RHEL 7 was released in June 2014.
"Red Hat Enterprise Linux offers a ten year lifecycle, one of the longest in the industry, and version 6 is within its seventh year of support, putting it in the Maintenance Support 2 phase," Marcel Kolaja, product manager, Red Hat Enterprise Linux at Red Hat, told ServerWatch. "This means that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 receives Critical-rated Red Hat Security Advisories (RHSAs), and selected Urgent-rated Red Hat Bug Fix Advisories (RHBAs) may be released as they become available."
Kolaja noted that the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.10 Beta delivers updates only to maintain and enhance the security, stability, and reliability of the platform in production roles.
The leading edge of RHEL development is currently the 7.5 release, which became generally available on April 10. Kolaja added that since Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.10 beta is within the Maintenance Support 2 phase of its ten-year life cycle, there are no backports from the recent release of version 7.5.
"All of the emphasis on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 is now placed on maintaining the platform as a production environment for mission-critical workloads," Kolaja said.
Meltdown and Spectre Mitigations
Among the stability and security improvements that have landed in RHEL 6.10 are mitigations for the recently disclosed Meltdown and Spectre CPU vulnerabilities. Kolaja said Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 was affected by the Spectre/Meltdown vulnerabilities with the resolution requiring a combination of kernel patches and microcode fixes.
"The Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 platform, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.10 Beta, is now patched and secured against all known variants of Spectre and Meltdown," he said.
One other key element that enables the continued stability of RHEL 6.10 is the fact that the platform remains on the same base kernel. Kolaja said Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.10 Beta includes Linux kernel version 2.6.32 and delivers on Red Hat's commitment to preserve existing hardware platforms and devices via a stable kernel ABI (kABI), while also providing a secure and stable platform that addresses important security vulnerabilities.
Though RHEL 6.x is now seven years old, it's not entirely clear how many organizations still run the operating system and how many have migrated to the newer RHEL 7.x line.
Kolaja commented that while Red Hat does not publicize the deployment size of each major version, one of the biggest benefits of a Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription is the ability to standardize on a major supported version, based on an organization’s specific needs, paired with the ten-year support lifecycle.
"A customer who parks a critical application on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 has several more years to continue running their application on this proven, stable, and more secure platform, and can then extend this support with Extended Lifecycle Support," Kolaja said. "For customers who want to migrate to a more recent version, with the innovations that this brings, we offer several tools through their subscription to help simplify the process."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.