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Red Hat Previews Enterprise Linux 4.5

Though Red Hat is poised to roll out its much-anticipated Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 release shortly, work still continues on previous versions of RHEL.

This week Red Hat rolled out a beta release of its fifth update to RHEL 4 officially tagged Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.5, providing users with a small taste of the virtualization that is to come in RHEL 5.

RHEL 4.5 is the first update for RHEL 4 to include Xen paravitualized kernels. Xen is the open source virtualization effort that Red Hat has already included in its Fedora community Linux releases and is part of Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 release as well.

The virtualization offered in the 4.5 release isn't the full, robust offering that will be in RHEL 5, but it will help existing RHEL users to migrate to RHEL 5 when available.

"The virtualization in 4.5 is to let it be a paravirtualized guest on RHEL 5," Joel Berman, product management director for RHEL explained to internetnews.com. "That means that RHEL 4.5 will allow any RHEL 4 customers to quickly run on RHEL 5.0 with the high performance that comes from paravirtualization and without requiring any special hardware."

RHEL 5, which is currently at the Beta 2 phase, is expected to include virtualization management as well as fully baking virtualization capabilities as an integrated part of the platform. Red Hat has not officially declared when the RHEL 5 release will be made though it is expected that it will happen sometime in the next three to six weeks.

Though the timing of the 4.5 beta release is close to the expected RHEL 5 release, the key focus of RHEL 4.5 is not to serve as a preview for RHEL 5, but rather is part of Red Hat's regular update mechanism for maintaining releases.

RHEL 4 was first Released over two years ago in 2004. It is Red Hat's stated policy to provide enterprise support for up to seven years on releases.

In addition to the new virtualization feature, update five includes a long list of updated packages that fix bugs and security issues for RHEL 4. The final release of update 4.5 is expected sometime after March 21, 2007.