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Which enterprise distros include Linux 2.6?

Which business-level (small to large) distributions now include Linux 2.6? Which ones will have 2.6 soon?

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This past March, SuSE unveiled SuSE Linux 9.1 Professional, the first major commercial release of the 2.6 kernel release. Though the majority of the benefits of 2.6 are geared to the corporate enterprise, it's clear that in this distribution, SuSE is also targeting the home user as well. For one thing, there's a focus on faster reading and writing of CDs and DVDs, better audio and video application performance, and improved streaming of video and audio data.

Of course, SuSE 9.1 Pro can also handle more processors, more physical devices and additional hardware, because the 2.6 kernel improves scalability by supporting 64-bit systems. Also, it offers such improvements as faster threading, enhanced I/O support and memory management.

The SuSE 9.1 distribution also ships with GNOME 2.4.2 and KDE 3.2.1 open-source desktops, as well as Samba version 3.

Business users have been generally positive about SuSE 9.1, especially with respect to the installer. YaST, which is short for Yet another Software Tool, did the SuSE installation. I like the install program because it has a very sharp interface, is very intuitive, is great at detecting hardware devices and is very detailed.

So what is Red Hat up to? Red Hat's next version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux will be using the 2.6 kernel, and Fedora 2.6 version came out prior to the SuSE version.

The current Red Hat Enterprise Linux uses the Linux 2.4.21 kernel, with additions from the Linux 2.5 and 2.6 kernels. A 2.6 version may be released sometime this year. The official party line of Red Hat is that the current release supports many 2.6 kernel features, and that it is the only commercial Linux that has back-ported 2.6 features.

Regarding other distros, my personal favorite is Mandrake, now offering 2.6 in version 10. Its latest version contains kernel 2.6.3. Mandrake really does deliver improved scalability to 16+ CPUs using the new scheduler. The claims have been proven for improved file system performance and support for Ext3, ReiserFS, JFS and XFS, improved threading support, added memory support, enhanced drive performance and storage access.

In addition to the Linux kernel, Mandrake's distribution also offers Samba 3.0, KED 3.2, DrakPark (software application management software) and DrakFax (faxing software).

Another one of my favorite distos, Slackware, still offers the 2.4 kernel in its 10.0 release, though you can select 2.6.7 online as an alternate choice in testing.

>> For more of Ken's discussion of 2.6, read this article.

This was first published in July 2004

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