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Red Hat releases Xen-enabled Linux beta

Top Linux seller begins public testing of new Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, which incorporates Xen technology.

Red Hat on Friday released its first test version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, its first product to incorporate the Xen virtualization technology.

Red Hat, the leading Linux seller, has been more cautious than rival Novell, which started shipping Xen in July. Xen, which lets a single server run multiple operating systems simultaneously to increase efficiency, holds promise for making computing infrastructure more reliable and flexible but requires foundational operating system changes.

"We are particularly interested in your feedback on the Xen technology," Red Hat said in an announcement of the beta software.

RHEL 5 is scheduled to arrive by the end of the year, but the company has begun leaving room for a delay into early 2007. "Our target is early winter," spokeswoman Leigh Day said.

And in an earlier interview, Chief Technology Officer Brian Stevens said Red Hat had decided to wait for Xen 3.0.3. "It's going to be on the edge," he said, referring to whether the company would release RHEL 5 the 2006 deadline.

The beta version also includes new diagnostic tools, SystemTap and Frysk, Red Hat said. SystemTap is similar to Sun Microsystems' DTrace, which enables administrators to probe systems, as they run, to scrutinize software for bottlenecks.

RHEL 5 also will include components designed to support a Red Hat technology called Stateless Linux, but the feature is labeled as only a "technology preview."

Stateless Linux converts servers or PCs into vessels that can be quickly reconfigured to perform different tasks. Settings and data would be stored in central repositories rather than permanently associated with particular computers.