Red Hat Unveils 9

As promised, Red Hat released Red Hat Linux 9 to its Red Hat Network subscribers Monday. The company plans to make the new version of its platform widely available on April 7.

Red Hat said the latest version of its Linux distribution is designed to meet the needs of students, home computing and technology enthusiasts. Red Hat has been shifting its eggs into the enterprise basket, and offers Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES and Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS to those customers.

Red Hat Enterprise AS, formerly known as Red Hat Linux Advanced Server, is the company’s core operating system and infrastructure enterprise Linux solution. It is aimed geared for large departmental and datacenter servers. Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES is designed for entry-level and departmental server applications. Red Hat said it is suited for network, file, print, mail, Web, and custom or packaged business applications. Finally, Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS is the company’s workstation/desktop environment, geared for client-server deployments, software development environments and targeted ISV client applications.

“Red Hat’s community-based distribution became an option for home computing with the introduction of the Bluecurve graphical interface in 2003,” said Brian Stevens, vice president of Operating Systems Development at Red Hat. “In Red Hat Linux 9, we’ve refined the installation and interface, adding new tools and applications for end users. The result is an open source desktop operating system that is flexible and simple to use for mainstream technology enthusiasts.”

Red Hat Linux 9 includes new installation and setup features which allow the user to choose a personal desktop, workstation, server or custom installation program (as well as upgrading an existing system). Additionally, the company said its package selection interface shows detailed descriptions of packages and offers a choice of whether to install or omit. Also, the first time a system is booted after installation, the Setup Agent gives step-by-step guidance for setting up date and time, sound card testing, registering for Red Hat Network, and installing additional software.

As for the interface, the new version features an update of Red Hat’s Bluecurve graphical interface. Bluecurve debuted with Red Hat Linux 8.0 in 2002, immediately igniting controversy with the way it blended elements of the GNOME and KDE desktops, which both have outspoken proponents and detractors.

Red Hat said the new version extends Bluecurve to more areas of the operating system, including the menu and layout of the desktop.

For applications and tools, Red Hat Linux 9 offers the open source office suite; the Mozilla open source browser, e-mail client, address book, HTML composer and authoring tool; the Ximian Evolution e-mail client, calendar and contact manager; CUPS for drag-and-drop printing capabilities; and new graphical configuration tools, including a personal firewall tool, peripheral configuration tool, display configuration tool and sound configuration tool.

Finally, the new version upgrades the core components, adding Linux Kernel 2.4.20, GCC 3.2.1, GNU libc 2.3.2 (with Native POSIX Thread Library, or NPTL, a new threading technology), and a Web server powered by Apache 2.0.

Red Hat is offering Red Hat Linux 9 for $39.95, which includes 30 days of Red Hat Network Basic Service and Web-based support. Red Hat Linux 9 Professional goes for $149.95, and includes the operating system on DVD, SysAdmin Rescue Tool, an office and multimedia applications CD, 60 days of Red Hat Network Basic Service and 60 days of Web-based and telephone support.