Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 pre-series test

Stable Future

Stratis Storage Manager

One important innovation in RHEL 8 must not go unmentioned: The system now has on board out of the box Stratis, a storage manager for volumes and encrypted volumes. Stratis can manage existing filesystems but can also create new filesystems; it can also combine various components of the block device layer in the Linux kernel (e.g., LVM) to achieve effects such as encryption or improved caching. Pooling of devices is also possible via LVM.

Stratis uses XFS as the default filesystem, which is remarkable: Btrfs should have reached a state in which it could be the default filesystem for RHEL 8, as should ZFS, although its license conditions make its use in RHEL 8 impossible. Red Hat works around these problems by combining the extremely robust XFS with various other technologies, and it worked quite well in the test.

Installation

The RHEL 8 installer hardly differs from the previous version. If you want to set up a single RHEL system, you can achieve your objective quickly and easily. However, because RHEL 8 also seeks to be the perfect platform for cloud computing, Kickstart and Anaconda are available, as well, which together enable automatic RHEL installation.

If you use Red Hat's OpenStack platform, for example, you can roll out RHEL 8 directly to the target systems from the tools there, without even seeing the installer. Basically, only the version number changes; the highly functional features all remain the same.

Conclusions

Red Hat RHEL 8 has mastered the balancing act between a rock-solid system on the one hand and a flexible distribution that picks up on current trends on the other hand. The AppStream repository, where Red Hat offers a variety of programs (including current versions in the future), and AppStream support are very useful. The genuine innovation in this new version is that the RHEL installation no longer forces you to run a software museum.

Container support is also fun: The consistent use of open standards (OCI) and the management framework that Red Hat provides for containers are a sensible alternative to Docker and, thus, take a bit of the wind out of the Linux container king's sails.

Additionally, the distribution is down-to-earth: Updates such as the switch to nftables have positive effects in everyday life, even if they seem fairly unspectacular. All told, RHEL 8 can be considered a success and a stable foundation for Red Hat products in the years to come.

The Author

Martin Gerhard Loschwitz is a Telekom Public Cloud Architect for T-Systems and primarily works on topics such as OpenStack, Ceph, and Kubernetes.

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