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Unless something goes badly wrong, Red Hat will be releasing the next version of its flagship operating system, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, on March 14.

RHEL 5 implements a fully integrated Xen-based server and storage virtualization solution, by coupling server virtualization with Red Hat’s clustering support. In addition, RHEL 5 comes with a virtualization manager that should make installing and administering Xen virtual machines much easier.

With this version, RHEL moves from Linux kernel Version 2.6.9 to 2.6.18. In addition, Red Hat says it has made extensive enhancements to the operating system’s network and I/O subsystems, to improve performance and scalability, as well as the kernel, including a little back-porting from 2.6.19.

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The new distribution will also include comprehensive security profiles and improved compiler and run-time buffer management technologies. In addition, RHEL 5’s SELinux (security enhanced Linux) is much easier to deploy and maintain than it was in RHEL 4.

For greater availability, the new RHEL will boast failover at either the application or virtual machine level by the combined use of Red Hat Cluster Suite, Red Hat Global File System and Cluster Logical Volume Manager. According to Red Hat, this technology allows application data to be securely accessed and shared by any guest from any system.

Read the full story on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Is Almost Here