Red Hat recently released the latest version of their Linux distribution: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 (RHEL 6). This is exciting because of the approach Red Hat takes with their Enterprise Linux. They stress stability and reliability over cutting edge features. One way they do this is to lock in to particular versions of software that they provide.

For example, with RHEL 5 they locked to a recent, well-tested version of PHP (5.1.6). During the life the RHEL 5 this has not changed even as newer versions of PHP came out sporting nifty new features (they did add security and bug fixes, however). This meant that you could set up your website on RHEL 5 server and not worry that an update would be released that added (or removed) a feature that changed the way your site behaved. The downside is of course that new features were not available if you wished to take advantage them. Many PHP applications (such as WordPress) began to require features not available in the RHEL 5 PHP. RHEL 6 locks to much more recent versions of software, allowing you to get new features but retain the benefits of Red Hat’s thorough testing and updating process.

Here are six of the top reasons why you should consider upgrading to Red Hat 6:

  1. Apache 2.2.15: This updated version of Apache brings many improvements to Red Hat’s offering. One of the coolest new features is the ability to use Server Name Indication to host multiple SSL sites on one IP. This reduction in required IPs is timely as it comes as IPv4 IPs are beginning to run out and organizations begin to transition to IPv6!
  2. PHP 5.3.3: PHP continues to evolve adding new functionality and removing obsolete features. Many PHP applications now require these new features so this makes it easier to deploy a content management system or any other application without resorting to a custom configuration.
  3. Memcached and APC: Red Hat now supplies two popular caching products making it easy to squeeze more performance out of your sites while getting the security and reliability from Red Hat’s testing and updates.
  4. MySQL 5.1.52: With MySQL 5.1 you can partition table rows into separate files based on user-defined rules, use row-based replication or mixed-format logging (which uses either row-based or statement-based replication as needed), add or remove plugins on the fly (such as the InnoDB plugin), schedule tasks (a la cron), and more. In addition, InnoDB performance has been improved and more options are available with the InnoDB plugin.
  5. EXT4: This is the next version of the EXT3 filesystem used in RHEL 5 and is faster and more reliable. Maximum volume size has been raised to 16TB (with future support for 1EB in development). Also the filesystem check (fsck) process has been sped up. A limit of 32,000 subdirectories has been removed as well. In short, it handles bigger files and bigger volumes while also being faster than EXT3.
  6. Virtualization Improvements: Many performance improvements have been added to the kernel since RHEL 5 was released. Virtualization has exploded during this time and RHEL 6 benefits from the improvements that have been made allowing for a guest that uses less resources than its predecessor. This means more virtual machines on less physical hardware.
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