Red Hat has been hinting at what is to come in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 (RHEL 7) since at least August of 2011. During Red Hat's recent Summit Event in Boston, the Linux vendor provided significantly more details of what is to come in the next generation of Linux.
RHEL 6 was officially released in November of 2010, and with Red Hat Enterprise Linux receiving a major update approximately every two years, RHEL 7 is due to be released sometime in 2013.
Tim Burke, vice-president of Linux Engineering at Red Hat, noted that key themes for RHEL 7 will include data center operational efficiency, virtualization and cloud enhancements as well as advancements in the integrated developers' tools.
"The status is we have now completed product planning, and there will be a RHEL 7 public beta in the first half of 2013," Burke said.
Users don't have to wait until 2013, though, to get their first preview of the technology that will land in RHEL 7. Burke confirmed that many of the new RHEL 7 features are in the recently released Fedora 17 community Linux distributions, and there are also some new RHEL 7 features that will debut in Fedora 18, which is due out by the end of the year.
Among the new features set to land in version 7 are full support for several technologies currently considered to be tech previews in the latest RHEL 6 update. Linux Container virtualization will be fully supported in RHEL7, including new SELinux and other security-related improvements to ensure full security.
From a storage perspective, LVM (Logical Volume Manager) Snapshot will be fully supported in RHEL 7, after being proven as a technical preview in RHEL 6. LVM will also get a boost with the introduction of LVM Thin provisions. The thin logical volumes only consume volume group space when written to — the space is then returned when data is discarded.
From a filesystem perspective RHEL 7 users will be able to choose between ext4, xfs and Btrfs for both boot and data usage. Btrfs is also currently in technical previews and provides new rollback and snapshotting features that Ext4 (the current Linux default) does not.
RHEL 7 will also sport a new user interface that has been completely rewritten. Red Hat developer Denise Duman explained that the new interface has a hub and spoke model. So instead of 14 screens, there are now three main hubs and you will no longer need to do a lot of configuration to get up and running.
Additionally, the memory footprint for installation has been reduced such that 512 MB is the minimum space needed, making smaller guests supportable.
On the desktop, RHEL 7 will also feature the GNOME 3 user experience, which will be new to RHEL users.
"Gnome 3 is a huge change and we've done some exciting things there," Red Hat developer Jonathan Bandford said.