"RHEL 6 is the culmination of 10 years of learning and partnering," said Paul Cormier, Red Hat's president of products and technologies, in a webcast announcing the launch. Cormier positioned the OS both as a foundation for cloud deployments and a potential replacement for Windows Server.
"We want to drive Linux deeper into every single IT organization. It is a great product to erode the Microsoft Server ecosystem," he said.
Overall, RHEL 6 has more than 2,000 packages, and an 85 percent increase in the amount of code from the previous version, said Jim Totton, vice president of Red Hat's platform business unit. The company has added 1,800 features to the OS and resolved more than 14,000 bug issues.
The company focused its development efforts on improving the Linux kernel, contributing more than 3,500 changes to the Linux kernel, Totton said. Work was also done in power management. The OS uses the new power-saving techniques in the AMD Opteron 4000- and 6000-series processors. The OS detects when its server is not being used and can power down components so they don't consume as much energy.
The OS has also been future-proofed, in the view of the Red Hat executives. It can support up to 16 terabytes of working memory, even though no physical system could now actually run that much memory under a single server. It has been configured to run up to 4,000 processors under a single OS. This release also introduces management of NUMA (Non-Uniform Memory Access), which allows the kernel to understand the varied memory resources across a variety of processors, a needed feature for tomorrow's multicore, multinode systems, Totton said.
Along with this release, Red Hat also announced a new RHEL 6 certification program for partners. This program will certify applications that are written for RHEL 6 will be able to operate for the lifetime of the customer's use of that OS.