Red Hat launches version 7.2 of Linux OS

Linux vendor Red Hat Inc. on Monday updated its Red Hat Linux operating systems for consumer PCs and for business workstations and servers. Both operating systems use the Linux 2.4.7 kernel and the GNOME 1.4 desktop environment. Red Hat also announced pricing for its upcoming Red Hat Embedded Linux Developer Suite, setting the price at US$2,500.

The Linux 2.4.7 kernel makes the open-source operating system more scalable by improving its performance in computers with more than one processor, expanding its system memory up to 64G bytes and using Ext3 journaling and a logical volume manager to better manage large file systems. It also has advanced power management features. The 2.4 Linux kernel was released by Linux creator Linus Torvalds in January.

The updated Red Hat consumer Linux flavor, Red Hat Linux 7.2, comes with improved USB (Universal Serial Bus) support, the GNOME and KDE desktop environments, game demo software, a Nautilus file manager from Eazel Inc. and a Mozilla Web browser. It also comes bundled with Sun Microsystems Inc.'s StarOffice 5.2 office applications, and compilers for C, C++, Java, Python, Perl, and PHP interpreters.

The GNOME 1.4 open source desktop used by Red Hat isn't perfectly compatible with the version developed by open source software vendor Ximian Inc., said Marty Wesley, a Red Hat product manager. "We're both pulling from the GNOME base, but from a different point in time," he said. Ximian tends to use later versions of GNOME in order to stay cutting edge, while Red Hat tends to work longer on its GNOME products in order to improve stability, he said.

Linux isn't perceived as user friendly when compared to the Apple Computer Inc. or Microsoft Corp. desktop environments -- an issue the open-source community has tried to address with the GNOME project for an open-source desktop. Just as Red Hat banks on Linux, Ximian Inc. banks on GNOME, producing its own flavor of the Linux-compatible desktop.

As Red Hat's modifications to GNOME are published under the GNU General Public License (GPL), the two versions will grow more compatible, he said. "Ximian tends to stay a little closer to the tip of the tree ... but all of these branches eventually fold back into the trunk."

The updated operating sytem for business PCs and servers, called Red Hat Linux Professional, comes with everything in the consumer version, along with Web server applications software, application development tools, an e-commerce package, workstation applications including Adobe Systems Inc.'s Acrobat reader and IBM Corp.'s Java Run Time Environment. It also comes with system administrator software and two months of support, along with a six month subscription to Red Hat Network Software Manager for one system.

Red Hat plans to release an advanced server version of Red Hat Linux 7.2 for data center use within the next six months. A version of Red Hat Linux 7.2 for IBM's S/390 mainframe computers and a version for Intel Corp.'s Itanium processor will be released by the end of the year, Wesley said.

Red Hat also reiterated its intent to release its developer suite for embedded Linux, but without giving a release date in the announcement.

Red Hat Linux 7.2 is priced at $59.95, while Red Hat Linux Professional is priced at $199.95. Both versions are available from Red Hat's Web site, http://www.redhat.com, at retail stores and through computer makers.

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