The Red Hat installation manager, Anaconda, has changed little from 6.2. Interestingly, users can choose to install both KDE and GNOME, so that they can use either desktop environment, or both. Previously, one had to choose to install either a KDE workstation or a GNOME workstation - a point on which Red Hat was criticised.
Auto-partitioning has been enhanced, and users running a multiboot system will be pleasantly surprised at the ease of adding a Linux partition. The manual disk Druid partition tool has not been removed, allowing greater choice to those users who seek it.
There is also an upgrade option, which updates a 6.2 distribution to version 7.0. This reflects the nature of the change to 7.0 - the main difference is the currency of programs, and an upgrade can quickly and efficiently do this update without dramatically affecting the system already installed.
The installation manager also attempts to detect the sound card you are using, removing the sometimes trivial task of configuring it yourself. Once again, this is an example of the types of enhancements Red Hat 7.0 will have.
So, what's new?
While the layout of 7.0 has not changed, there has been a significant change in the number of new packages included. In fact, this has resulted in an extra CD being added to the release. The good thing about this configuration is that an entire operating system installation can be made from a single CD, while applications which are not, and should not be expected to be, installed by default are stored on "a second CD. This cleans up the installation CD, as well as saving users the job of downloading applications such as Enlightenment, fetchmail, KOffice, development releases of PostgreSQL and MySQL, which may be wanted later.
The 7.0 beta release also has better support for USB and accelerated 3D hardware. This ties in with the inclusion of XFree86 4.0.1 - a significant upgrade to the X Windows system. Though XFree86 4.0.1 is comparatively new, it functioned seamlessly in the Red Hat beta environment, suggesting that Red Hat's decision to go with it is a good one.
Also receiving major updates are system libraries, like glibc2 and the GNOME and KDE libraries. Interestingly, although it has been included for default installation on 7.0 beta, the final release of 7.0 will not install KDE2 beta for a KDE workstation. This is due to the sheer instability of the environment in its current state.
Now that it has been released under the GNU Public License, MySQL has also been included for distribution, offering an alternative to PostgreSQL, which has been included on the past few Red Hat distributions.
To help build a better 7.0 release, Red Hat has a Web site specifically set up for bug reporting at http://bugzilla.redhat.com/bugzilla. There is even the invitation to send your own patch.
The release is available as two iso images (two CDs) from Red Hat's ftp site at ftp://ftp.redhat.com/pub/redhat/beta/pinstripe. As explained, you only need CD 1 to do a full install since CD 2 contains less frequently used programs.
The Red Hat 7.0 beta clearly shows Red Hat's intention to refine its successful 6.2 release and offer a more powerful and friendly product. The 7.0 release will be good for users new to Linux.
For the experienced user it offers a way of effectively upgrading their existing Red Hat machines without the trouble of downloading and installing new packages manually.