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Microsoft Slash Prices On Surface 2 Tablets

August 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Microsoft has lowered the prices of its Surface 2 tablets by as much as 22%, dropping the entry-level Windows 8.1 RT device to $349.

It’s unknown whether Microsoft discounted the Surface 2 to clear inventory before it discontinues the tablet, in preparation for a successor, or simply to move a slow-selling product.

A clue may be in the length of the limited-time sale: Microsoft said that the reduced prices were good from Aug. 24 to Sept. 27, or “while supplies last,” and set the maximum number of devices per customer at a generous five.

Intriguingly, Microsoft is to host a press event on Sept. 30 to unveil the next edition of Windows, code named “Threshold” but perhaps officially to be called “Windows 9.” Rumors have circulated that Windows RT will also be revamped to drop the desktop mode and/or to add support for the pen bundled with the Surface Pro 3.

If those claims are accurate, the Sept. 30 event would be a perfect time to tout a revamped Windows RT and unveil replacements for the Surface 2.

Microsoft cut prices by $100 for each of the three Surface 2 models it sells: two Wi-Fi only tablets with 32GB or 64GB of storage, and a 64GB device that can connect to a cellular data network at LTE speeds.

The lowest-priced 32GB Surface 2 is now priced at $349, a 22% discount, while the 64GB tablet now costs $449, an 18% reduction. The sole LTE model, now $579, received a 15% price cut.

Microsoft’s Surface 2 is powered by Windows RT 8.1, the touch-centric, tile-interface that runs only “Modern,” nee “Metro,” apps. Windows RT cannot handle legacy Windows applications.

The Surface 2 was the follow-up to the disastrous Surface RT, the tablet which sold in such small volume — and which Microsoft built in such large numbers — that the company was forced to take a $900 million write-off in mid-2013.

Although the Surface Pro 2, which went on sale alongside the Surface 2 in October 2013, was updated to the Surface Pro 3 in May of this year, the Surface 2 has not been refreshed since its launch.

At its new price, the 32GB Surface 2, which boasts a 10.6-in. display, costs less than Apple’s entry-level 16GB iPad Mini with a 7.9-in. Retina-quality screen. That iPad Mini lists at $399.

Microsoft is selling the re-priced Surface 2 on its online store.





Can A Linux Certification Payoff Financially?

August 25, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The Linux Foundation has announced an online certification programme for entry-level system admininstration and advanced Linux software engineering professionals to help expand the global pool of Linux sysadmin and developer talent.

The foundation indicated that it established the certification programme because there’s increasing demand for staff in the IT industry, saying, “Demand for experienced Linux professionals continues to grow, with this year’s Linux Jobs Report showing that managers are prioritizing Linux hires and paying more for this talent.

“Because Linux runs today’s global technology infrastructure, companies around the world are looking for more Linux professionals, yet most hiring managers say that finding Linux talent is difficult.”

Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin said, “Our mission is to address the demand for Linux that the industry is currently experiencing. We are making our training [programme] and Linux certification more accessible to users worldwide, since talent isn’t confined to one geography or one distribution.

“Our new Certification [Programme] will enable employers to easily identify Linux talent when hiring and uncover the best of the best. We think Linux professionals worldwide will want to proudly showcase their skills through these certifications and that these certificates will become a hallmark of quality throughout our industry.”

In an innovative departure from other Linux certification testing offered by a number of Linux distribution vendors and training firms, the foundation said, “The new Certification [Programme] exams and designations for Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) and Linux Foundation Certified Engineer (LFCE) will demonstrate that users are technically competent through a groundbreaking, performance-based exam that is available online, from anywhere and at any time.”

The exams are customised somewhat to accommodate technical differences that exist between three major Linux distributions that are characteristic of those usually encountered by Linux professionals working in the IT industry. Exam takers can choose between CentOS, openSUSE or Ubuntu, a derivative of Debian.

“The Linux Foundation’s certification [programme] will open new doors for Linux professionals who need a way to demonstrate their know-how and put them ahead of the rest,” said Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth.

Those who want to look into acquiring the LFCS and LFCE certifications can visit the The Linux Foundation website where it offers the exams, as well as training to prepare for them. The exams are priced at $300, but apparently they are on special introductory offer for $50.

The Linux Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux and collaborative development. It is supported by a diverse roster of almost all of the largest IT companies in the world except Microsoft.



OpenSuse Goes Rolling

August 6, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

OpenSuse, the free Linux distribution forked from Suse Linux Professional and the basis for Suse Linux Enterprise, is switching to a rolling release model.

The development change will see daily builds released to keep the distribution at the cutting edge of development.

Announced by the Opensuse Project on Wednesday, the rolling release model for the development version of Opensuse, which is called Factory, will shorten the stabilisation process for releases and eliminate the need for pre-release or “milestone” builds, the project said.

Opensuse board chairman Richard Brown said that the project team was hopeful that the move would lead to more users of the software and more contributors to the code, which would have a knock-on effect on quality.

“With a daily fresh Factory distribution making it easier for those who want to preview and test, we hope to see more users and contributors, leading to faster fixes and even higher quality. Factory is critical as it provides the base technology for Opensuse and Suse Linux Enterprise, which is used by tens of thousands of organisations around the world,” he said.

The new development model balances responsibility among packagers, testers and end users while putting more emphasis on automated quality assurance. As a result, Opensuse Factory is no longer just the development branch of Opensuse but becomes a reliable, always-ready working distribution, according to the project.

The move also means that Opensuse is following a similar development model to Fedora, the cutting-edge Linux distribution sponsored by Red Hat that Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is based upon.

More information on Opensuse Factory can be found on the project’s online portal. However, at the time of writing this was still showing a notice warning that the Factory repository is not guaranteed to be fully stable, and advising users to download the current release build.

An Opensuse spokesperson told stated that this is because the Factory build is primarily for developers and those keen to see the latest developments, and is not recommended for production environments.


RedHat Buys InkTank

May 5, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Red Hat has announced that it bought storage system provider Inktank.

Inktank is the company behind Ceph, the cloud based objects and block storage software package used in a number of Openstack cloud configurations.

Ceph will continue to be marketed alongside Red Hat’s own GlusterFS in a deal worth $175m, which the company does not believe will adversely affect its financial forecasts for the year.

In a statement, Brian Stevens, EVP and CTO of Red Hat said, “We’re thrilled to welcome Inktank to the Red Hat family. They have built an incredibly vibrant community that will continue to be nurtured as we work together to make open the de facto choice for software-defined storage. Inktank has done a brilliant job assembling a strong ecosystem around Ceph and we look forward to expanding on this success together.”

As part of the deal Ceph’s Monitoring and Diagnostics tool Calamari will also become open source, allowing users to add their own modules and functionality.

Inktank founder Sage Weil used his blog to assure users that the two storage systems will be treated with equal respect. “Red Hat intends to administer the Ceph trademark in a manner that protects the ecosystem as a whole and creates a level playing field where everyone is held to the same standards of use.”

Red Hat made the announcement fresh from Red Hat Summit in New York, where the company reaffirmed that it is the Linux distribution of choice at the CERN supercollider in Switzerland.

The Inktank deal is set to close later this month.



Ubuntu Goes 64-bit On ARM

April 18, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Canonical has announced its latest milestone server release, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

The company, which is better known for its open source Ubuntu Linux desktop operating system, has been supplying a server flavor of Ubuntu since 2006 that is being used by Netflix and Snapchat.

Ubuntu 14.04 Long Term Support (LTS) claims to be the most interoperable Openstack implementation, designed to run across multiple environments using Icehouse, the latest iteration of Openstack.

Canonical product manager Mark Baker told The INQUIRER, “The days of denying Ubuntu are over, and the cloud is where we can make a difference.”

Although Canonical regular issues incremental releases of Ubuntu, LTS releases such as this one represent landmarks for the operating system, which only come about ever two years. LTS releases are also supported for a full five years.

New in this Ubuntu 14.04 LTS release are Juju and Maas orchestration and automation tools and support for hyperscale ARM 64-bit computing such as the server setup recently announced by AMD.

Baker continued, “We’re not an enterprise vendor in the traditional sense. We’ve got a pretty good idea of how to do it by now. Openstack is gaining a more formal status as enterprise evolves to adopt cloud based solutions, and we are making a commitment to support it.

“Openstack Iceberg is also considered LTS and as such will be supported for five years.”

Scalability is another key factor. Baker said, “We look at performance. For the majority of our customers it’s about efficiency – how rapidly we can scale up and scale in, and that’s something Ubuntu does incredibly well.”

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS will be available to download from Thursday.


Red Hat Goes Atomic

April 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The Red Hat Summit kicked off in San Francisco on Tuesday, and continued today with a raft of announcements.

Red Hat launched a new fork of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) with the title “Atomic Host”. The new version is stripped down to enable lightweight deployment of software containers. Although the mainline edition also support software containers, this lightweight version improves portability.

This is part of a wider Red Hat initiative, Project Atomic, which also sees virtualisation platform Docker updated as part of the ongoing partnership between the two organisations.

Red Hat also announced a release candidate (RC) for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7. The beta version has already been downloaded 10,000 times. The Atomic Host fork is included in the RC.

Topping all that is the news that Red Hat’s latest stable release, RHEL 6.5 has been deployed at the Organisation for European Nuclear Research – better known as CERN.

The European laboratory, which houses the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and was birthplace of the World Wide Web has rolled out the latest versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualisation and Red Hat Technical Account Management. Although Red Hat has a long history with CERN, this has been a major rollout for the facility.

The logging server of the LHC is one of the areas covered by the rollout, as are the financial and human resources databases.

The infrastructure comprises a series of dual socket servers, virtualised on Dell Poweredge M610 servers with up to 256GB RAM per server and full redundancy to prevent the loss of mission critical data.

Niko Neufeld, deputy project leader at the Large Hadron Collider, said, “Our LHCb experiment requires a powerful, very reliable and highly available IT environment for controlling and monitoring our 70 million CHF detectors. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization is at the core of our virtualized infrastructure and complies with our stringent requirements.”

Other news from the conference includes the launch of Openshift Marketplace, allowing customers to try solutions for cloud applications, and the release of Red Hat Jboss Fuse 6.1 and Red Hat Jboss A-MQ 6.1, which are standards based integration and messaging products designed to manage everything from cloud computing to the Internet of Things.


Microsoft Updates Office Online

April 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft is updating its Web-based Office Online suite, closing the features gap with the main Office 365 and Office 2013 suites installed on users’ devices.

“We know you want features that allow you to move as seamlessly as possible between Office Online and the desktop,” wrote Kaberi Chowdhury, an Office Online technical product manager, in a blog post Monday.

Improvements to Excel Online include the ability to insert new comments, edit and delete existing comments, and properly open and edit spreadsheets that contain Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) code.

Meanwhile, Word Online has a new “pane” where users can see all comments in a document, and reply to them or mark them as completed. It also has a refined lists feature that is better able to recognize whether users are continuing a list or starting one. In addition, footnotes and end notes can now be added more conveniently inline.

PowerPoint Online has a revamped text editor that offers a layout view that more closely resembles the look of finished slides, according to Microsoft. It also has improved performance and video functionality, including the ability to play back embedded YouTube videos.

For users of OneNote Online, Microsoft is now adding the ability to print out the notes they’ve created with the application.

Microsoft is also making Word Online, PowerPoint Online and OneNote Online available via Google’s Chrome Web Store so that Chrome browser users can add them to their Chrome App launcher. Excel Online will be added later.

The improvements in Office Online will be rolled out to users this week, starting Monday.

Office Online, which used to be called Office Web Apps, competes directly against Google Docs and other browser-based office productivity suites. It’s meant to offer users a free, lightweight, Web-based version of these four applications if they don’t have the desktop editions on the device they’re using at that moment.


Is Firmware A Security Threat?

March 20, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth wants everyone to abandon proprietary firmware code because it is a “threat vector.”

Writing in his blog, Shuttleworth said that manufacturers are too incompetent, and hackers too good for security-by-obscurity in firmware to ever work. Any firmware code running on your phone, tablet, PC, TV, wifi router, washing machine, server, or the server running the cloud your SaaS app is running on is a threat, he said.

“Arguing for ACPI on your next-generation device is arguing for a trojan horse of monumental proportions to be installed in your living room and in your data centre. I’ve been to Troy, there is not much left,” he moaned.

Shuttleworth wants the industry to use Linux and avoid firmware that has executable code. He writes: “Declarative firmware that describes hardware linkages and dependencies but doesn’t include executable code is the best chance we have of real bottom-up security.”


IBM Wants Mobile Apps Powered By Supercomputer Watson

February 28, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty took to the Mobile World Congress stage and announced a global competition to spur developers to create mobile consumer and business apps powered by its Watson supercomputer platform.

Watson is the heart of the company’s cognitive computing technology. IBM is pulling out all the stops to make Watson a success. Last month, the company set up a new division, the Watson Business Group, to create and run cloud-based cognitive applications and services for enterprise users.

“By 2016, a quarter of the apps in the world will be in the cloud,” Rometty said. These apps are generating massive amounts of data, she said.

“You can’t program enough to make sense of all the data in the world,” Rometty said, adding that the vast amount of data generated every day is leading to a new era of computing.

“The new era is cognitive, of teach and learn,” Rometty said.

“I want to make an offer to you,” Rometty said. “We’re gonna offer the Watson Mobile Developer Challenge.”

The competition is taking place under the newly formed IBM Watson Group. It aims to encourage development of cognitive computing apps.

Watson cognitive computing comprises services, software and apps that analyze and improve by learning. The idea is to answer complex questions derived from massive amounts of disparate data, Rometty said.

IBM is setting up the Watson Mobile Developer Challenge specifically to seed efforts to develop cognitive apps that can change the way consumers and businesses interact with data on their mobile devices, Rometty said.

Over the next three months, the global challenge will invite mobile developers and entrepreneurs to share their best ideas to build and develop mobile apps into prototypes.

IBM will invite three winners to join the Watson Ecosystem Program, in which the company is assembling content providers and independent software vendors to collaborate on the development and release of “Powered by IBM Watson” applications.

“We’ve already got thousands of applicants,” to be part of the ecosystem, Rometty said.

The winners of the challenge will work with IBM’s recently launched global consulting practice, IBM Interactive Experience, to receive design consulting and support from IBM experts to develop a commercial app, IBM detailed in a statement accompanying Rometty’s talk.

IBM is serious about encouraging the development of applications that run in the cloud. For IBM, more applications mean more data generated, and more of a need for the analytics software and services that it sells.

“We have a big-data analysis business of $16 billion,” Rometty said.

On Monday, IBM announced it will spend $1 billion on its platform-as-a-service (PaaS) strategy, separate from the money it is investing in Watson, to encourage software makers to build cloud apps.

As part of that announcement, made at its Pulse event in Las Vegas, IBM will become a major contributor to the Cloud Foundry, an open source PaaS that is run under the aegis of Pivotal, a spinout from VMware and EMC.

IBM first developed Watson as a research project to compete against humans on the game show “Jeopardy.” Watson can come up with answers to questions using a range of sources in various formats. It was able to hone its answers by learning how to formulate the best responses in an iterative, trial and error process.

Because this approach to problem solving emulates how humans think, it is known as cognitive computing.

After Watson beat human contestants in “Jeopardy” in 2011, IBM has worked to commercialize Watson technologies.


First Ubuntu Mobile Phones Finally Coming In 2014

February 21, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The first smartphone built on a mobile version of Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux operating system will be launched this year, the company’s CEO has stated.

BQ and Meizu, both Chinese phone makers, will produce the phones that will launch “well within” 2014, said Mark Shuttleworth, in a conference call with reporters.

Shuttleworth didn’t disclose any other details of the phones, but he hinted that the BQ phone would have dual-SIM slots and the Meizu phone would match Ubuntu with Android on a dual-boot system.

Samples of both phones will be shows at next week’s Mobile World Congress exhibition in Barcelona.

Ubuntu is best-known for its desktop and server Linux OS, which has a reputation for being easier to use and install than many other Linux operating systems.

Canonical, the company behind the OS, first announced plans for an Ubuntu mobile OS at the beginning of 2013.

In the middle of the year, the company launched a crowd-funding project for a high-end concept phone based on the operating system. While the campaign for the Ubuntu Edge phone received a strong launch — over a million dollars were raised in the first few hours — enthusiasm quickly tailed off and the campaign raised just under $13 million, which was well below the target of $32 million.

As it enters the mobile space, Shuttleworth said Ubuntu is looking to become the number-three platform in the industry.

That would put it ahead of Microsoft’s Windows Phone and BlackBerry OS, which are the current third and fourth-ranked platforms behind Android and Apple’s iOS.

But to date, consumers appear to be quite happy with the market leaders, which account for 94% percent of the entire market. Microsoft and BlackBerry share 5% and other operating systems account for just 1% of smartphone shipments, according to data from Gartner.

Shuttleworth said he believes a key to gaining market share will be convergence — the fusing of desktop and mobile platforms so computing done on one is immediately available through apps on the other. The company is planning to eventually bring together its desktop and mobile operating systems as a common platform.

It will also focus on growing the number of apps available for the Ubuntu phone platform.

Lack of major apps has been a common criticism leveled at both Microsoft and BlackBerry, and Shuttleworth said he wants to have “the top 50 apps from Android and iOS when we launch these devices.”

That’s what Steve Ballmer said as Microsoft CEO when the company launched its Windows Phone 8 platform and it took the company many months to get developers on board. In some cases, Microsoft itself paid for the app development work.


Ubuntu Cross-Platform Convergence Delayed

February 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Ubuntu will not offer cross-platform apps as soon as it had hoped.

Canonical had raised hopes that its plan for Ubuntu to span PCs and mobile devices would be realised with the upcoming Ubuntu 14.04 release, providing a write-once, run-on-many template similar to that planned by Google for its Chrome OS and Android app convergence.

This is already possible on paper and the infrastructure is in place on smartphone and tablet versions of Ubuntu through its new Unity 8 user interface.

However, Canonical has decided to postpone the rollout of Unity 8 for desktop machines, citing security concerns, and it will now not appear along with the Mir display server this coming autumn.

This will apply only to apps in the Ubuntu store, and in the true spirit of open source, anyone choosing to step outside that ecosystem will be able to test the converged Ubuntu before then.

Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon told Ars Technica, “We don’t plan on shipping apps in the new converged store on the desktop until Unity 8 and Mir lands.

“The reason is that we use app insulation to (a) run apps securely and (b) not require manual reviews (so we can speed up the time to get apps in the store). With our plan to move to Mir, our app insulation doesn’t currently insulate against X apps sniffing events in other X apps. As such, while Ubuntu SDK apps in click packages will run on today’s Unity 7 desktop, we don’t want to make them readily available to users until we ship Mir and have this final security consideration in place.

“Now, if a core-dev or motu wants to manually review an Ubuntu SDK app and ship it in the normal main/universe archives, the security concern is then taken care of with a manual review, but we are not recommending this workflow due to the strain of manual reviews.”

As well as the aforementioned security issues, there are still concerns that cross-platform apps don’t look quite as good on the desktop as native desktop versions and the intervening six months will be used to polish the user experience.

Getting the holistic experience right is essential for Ubuntu in order to attract OEMs to the converged operating system. Attempts to crowdfund its own Ubuntu handset fell short of its ambitious $20m target, despite raising $10.2 million, the single largest crowdfunding total to date.



Red Hat And Hotronworks Expand Linux Alliance For Big Data

February 12, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Red Hat and Hortonworks have expanded their strategic partnership surrounding Hadoop and Big Data.

At a joint press briefing yesterday the partners announced innovations including Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) on Red Hat Storage, Red Hat Enterprise Linux with OpenJDK and Red Hat JBoss Data Virtualisation with HDP.

The companies will offer a joint support service for customers to take advantage of the alliance, with Red Hat customers able to enjoy Hortonworks’ Hadoop specialist knowledge.

Hortonworks VP of corporate strategy Shaun Connolly said, “This enables you to pull data from multiple data sources including NoSQL, enterprise applications, and now Hadoop. It normalises the data model and makes it easier for developers to write apps.”

“People want to consume data in Hadoop using their existing skills and tools when building new analytic apps. This integration speaks to enabling business analysts and application developers in the enterprise today.”

The two firms have been working behind the scenes to combine their product stacks with the goal of allowing users of both systems to inject Hadoop workloads into the combined stack.

Red Hat VP of Storage and Big Data Ranga Rangachari said, “Now we truly have a best-of-breed solution that is truly open as well as giving customers choice.”

Some elements of the partnership are still in beta while others are ready for use now, with further announcements expected in the near future.

The news follows Red Hat’s recent announcement of its latest testing release, Fedora 20, codenamed Heisenbug.


OpenSuse Hacked

January 13, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The openSUSE Forums were hijacked today by a Pakistani hacker who goes by handle H4x0r HuSsY. Apparently the hacker exploited the vulnerability in vBulletin 4.2.1 software which SUSE uses to host the forum. The problem is that the hack revealed that the openSUSE Forums were based on proprietary forum software.

The openSUSE team has denied that the users’ passwords were compromised by the hack.

“The credentials for your openSUSE login are not saved in our application databases as we use a single-sign-on system (Access Manager from NetIQ) for all our services. This is a completely separate system and it has not been compromised by this crack,” the team said.

What the cracker reported as compromised passwords where indeed random automatically set strings that are in no way connected to your the passwords.

While it was good that none of the user data was compromised open sourcers are scratching their collective heads and wondering if the attack would have happened if the outfit had been eating its own dogfood and used some nice open source technologies.


Lenovo Offering 4K Monitor For $799

January 7, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Lenovo is aiming to introduce 4K to the masses with the aggressively priced $799 ThinkVision Pro2840m monitor.

The 28-inch model will be able to display images at a 4K — or a 3840 x 2160 pixel — resolution, which is considered the next high-definition standard. The monitor, announced on Sunday, is one of two 4K displays being shown by Lenovo at International CES in Las Vegas this year.

Most high-definition TVs and monitors shipping today are capable of high-definition resolutions of 1920 x 1080 pixels, but the 4K resolution provides four times the depth. 4K TVs were the first to appear, and were soon followed by monitors, which are still priced above $1,000.

Sharp’s 32-inch PNK321 is on sale for $2,995 on B&H Photo and Video, Asus’ PQ321Q 31.5-Inch 4K monitor is priced at $2,940 on Amazon, while Dell’s 24-inch UltraSharp 24 Ultra HD Monitor is priced at $1,299.

Lenovo also wants to quickly bring 4K to its customers as it expands its product lineup, thus the aggressive pricing, said Matt Bereda, marketing director for Lenovo’s Think Business Group.

“It’s an ideal device for someone working with high-end graphics,” Bereda said.

The ThinkVision Pro2840m has DisplayPort, mini-DisplayPort and HDMI ports. A stand allows the monitor to be adjusted in multiple orientations. It also supports MHL (mobile high-definition link) for display of content from mobile devices.

The monitor will ship in April this year.

Lenovo also introduced the ThinkVision 28, a 4K monitor that doubles up as an Android all-in-one. Lenovo insisted that the device is first a 4K monitor and can be an Android desktop when needed. The monitor has Nvidia’s Tegra processor and a stock version of Android.

The monitor will be able to run Android apps and games, and also stream 4K content if available. Wireless features allow it to access data from Android smartphones and tablets. The monitor has three HDMI ports, one Displayport and five USB 3.0 ports. The company did not provide a price, but said the monitor will ship in April.




Red Hat Releases Next New Enterprise Linux Beta

December 16, 2013 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Red Hat has made available a beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 (RHEL 7) for testers, just weeks after the final release of RHEL 6.5 to customers.

RHEL 7 is aimed at meeting the requirements of future applications as well as delivering scalability and performance to power cloud infrastructure and enterprise data centers.

Available to download now, the RHEL 7 beta introduces a number of enhancements, including better support for Linux Containers, in-place upgrades, XFS as the default file system, improved networking support and improved compatibility with Windows networks.

Inviting customers, partners, and members of the public to download the RHEL 7 beta and provide feedback, Red Hat is promoting the upcoming version as its most ambitious release to date. The code is based on Red Hat’s community developed Fedora 19 distribution of Linux and the upstream Linux 3.10 kernel, the firm said.

“Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 is designed to provide the underpinning for future application architectures while delivering the flexibility, scalability, and performance needed to deploy across bare metal, virtual machines, and cloud infrastructure,” Senior Product Marketing Manager Kimberly Craven wrote on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux blog.

These improvements address a number of key areas, including virtualisation, management and interoperability.

Linux Containers, for example, was partially supported in RHEL 6.5, but this release enables applications to be created and deployed using Linux Container technology, such as the Docker tool. Containers offers operating system level virtualisation, which provides isolation between applications without the overhead of virtualising the entire server.

Red Hat said it is now supporting an in-place upgrade feature for common server deployment types. This will allow customers to migrate existing RHEL 6.5 systems to RHEL 7 without downtime.

RHEL 7 also makes the switch to XFS as its default file system, supporting file configurations up to 500TB, while ext4 file systems are now supported up to 50TB in size and B-tree file system (btrfs) implementations are available for users to test.

Interoperability with Windows has also been improved, with Red Hat now including the ability to bridge Windows and Linux infrastructure by integrating RHEL 7 and Samba 4.1 with Microsoft Active Directory domains. Red Hat Enterprise Linux Identity Management can also be deployed in a parallel trust zone alongside Active Directory, the firm said.

On the networking side, RHEL 7 provides support for 40Gbps Ethernet, along with improved channel bonding, TCP performance improvements and low latency socket poll support.

Other enhancements include support for very large scale storage configurations, including enterprise storage arrays, and uniform management tools for networking, storage, file systems, identities and security using the OpenLMI framework.