RHEL Manageability and Updates
Once registered, yum is a very usable update tool. If you’re running a graphical
desktop (one of the install options is a development workstation), there’s
also the graphical package management client pup available. Yum does
the job just fine, though.
I tried installing Apache (package httpd) and found it to be a pretty
smooth process. Installation doesn’t manually start Apache for you (arguably
a good idea), but a basic working config is part of the install, and
service httpd start (or /etc/init.d/httpd start if like me
your fingers are still stuck on that!) will get it going. Again,
security-wise this is a good call.
Red Hat 6 features some improvements to SELinux (which will doubtless
continue to have both admirers and detractors), in particular sandboxing,
which enables the admin to run untrusted apps in their own independent
container. It also adds the X
Access Control Extension (XACE), which X server internal access
controls to be set up.
The System Security Services Daemon (SSSD) is another new feature: It
implements centralized identity/authentication management and supports a wide
range of identity/auth services (including OpenLDAP, Active Directory, and
Kerberos, as well as Red Hat’s own Directory Server). This will hopefully
make centralized auth and identity provision easier for Red Hat
administrations. It’s extensible, allowing it to be theoretically future-proofed
against whatever the next big thing in authentication protocols turns out to
be — again, evidence that Red Hat is thinking about that 10-year
A neat touch is that the default at install is to set up a logical volume
for the system, which means you can easily snapshot volumes (using
lvcreate) and merge them back in again to the original (reverting any
changes since the snapshot). I didn’t experiment too much with this, but it
could definitely be useful for sys admins.
Overall, RHEL6 is clearly aimed squarely at the enterprise server market. Most of the
improvements are server-related rather than desktop, although there are Gnome
and KDE upgrades as well. I was a little underimpressed by the install
difficulties I ran into — I really don’t expect to have to sort out my
Ethernet manually! — but once it was all up and running, it was a smooth
experience. The strong security focus is great for enterprise environments,
and the 10-year life cycle is also very impressive, as is the scalability and
virtualization support. I’ll be interested to see what RHEL7 brings in a few
Juliet Kemp has been messing around with Linux systems, for financial reward and otherwise, for about a decade. She is also the author of “Linux System Administration Recipes: A Problem-Solution Approach” (Apress, 2009).