Red Hat's stated goals through next year are to continue improving its enterprise operating system to run on high-end servers and to consolidate its operating systems onto a consistent architecture. Enterprise Linux 3 includes Native Posix Threading Library, which improves the operating system's performance when running applications with multiple threads operating at once. It also features scalability improvements, including support for larger symmetric multiprocessing memory and input/output configurations. These improvements take into account the fact that many Linux systems are run as part of clusters, says Brian Stevens, Red Hat's VP of operating system development. "This requires improved management, since you may have more systems once you move to a Linux cluster."
Enterprise Linux 3 is also written to a single code base, which improves code stability, maintainability, and security, Stevens says. The new version also supports a wider variety of hardware platforms, including those running Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s 64-bit-compatible Opteron processor and IBM's iSeries, pSeries, zSeries, and S/390 servers. Enterprise Linux continues to support Intel x86 and Itanium platforms as well.
With Enterprise Linux 3, Red Hat has also expanded its basic operating-system offerings to include file-clustering software and developer tools. The file-clustering software supplements the basic clustering capabilities already built into Linux.
Red Hat is doing a lot to remove things that have been an impediment to Linux in the past, IDC research director Al Gillen says. "Customers are going to want off-the-shelf applications that are commercially supported," he says. "And it's really nice to get these from the same company that you get the operating-system software."