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Red Hat Improves Realtime Linux

By Sean Kerner (Send Email)
Posted January 30, 2012


Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) is out with its first major enterprise supported Linux release will full support for the Linux 3.0 kernel. The Red Hat MRG 2.1 platform provides Messaging, Realtime and Grid capabilities and was last updated in June of 2011 with the 2.0 release.

Red Hat has been developing the MRG realtime platform since at least 2007. The MRG platform is different from Red Hat's Enterprise Linux in that it can adopt new kernels faster.

"This the first time that our customers will be able to get an enhanced realtime Linux 3.0 kernel," Brian Che, product manager at Red Hat, told InternetNews.com. "Customers for this type of capability are always looking to take advantage of the latest and greatest capabilities in the realtime performance market."

Realtime provides a deterministic response to actions in the operating system. That means that the same action will take the exact same amount of time every time, which is important in mission-critical operations such as high-speed trading, medical and military use cases.

The Linux 3.0 kernel was first released in July 2011. Red Hat's policy on its flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is to not rebase the kernel inside of an enterprise release cycle, to maintain application and hardware certification. With MRG, Che noted that Red Hat is not changing any of the APIs when the platform gets a new kernel.

"We preserve full application compatibility with RHEL, the way we do that is we actually don't change any of the APIs that applications call to," Che said. "What happens though is when we rebase the kernel we have to go through new hardware certifications."

Che noted that from a real-time perspective there are fewer platforms than a standard RHEL release that need to be re-certified.

"For this kind of performance, there is a much smaller universe of hardware providers that we work with," Che said. "So that's manageable for us to be able to continue to rev the kernel while still working with close partners like IBM, HP and Dell."

Looking beyond just the kernel, MRG 2.1 includes enhanced event-based data sampling for performance measurement. Che explained that Red Hat has already been taking advantage of the kernel 'perf' tool for performance management. With MRG 2.1, the focus is on going even deeper with the real-time kernel.

"From a real-time kernel perspective, granularity in terms of timers and the predictability of how the timers run that is different than a standard kernel," Che said.

With MRG, a number of APIs enable users to interact with the platform. One of them is something called Aviary, which is now getting a security boost.

"You can now call Aviary through SSL to secure those transactions," Che said. "That's significant for customers that may want to access APIs not just coming through well-controlled data centers, but also coming in through other access models."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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