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White Paper

New RHEL 7.1 Features Ease Business and IT Adoption

Jan. 06, 2016
Kerry Doyle


The recent Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.1 release offers a range of system-wide improvements. Whether you're new to RHEL or a veteran user, this white paper covers essential new tools and upgrades. Dynamic patching, in-place upgrades, easily configuring new deployments or monitoring entire systems represent some of the more significant changes. This white paper not only explores the significance of these modifications, it also provides useful examples, including diagrams and command lines for executing key tasks. RHEL 7.1 represents the first minor release of RHEL 7, which launched in June 2014 and will be supported for a 10-year life cycle.


A range of new tools and features in the most recent version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7, and the incremental milestone update, RHEL 7.1, offer key advantages for business-class and IT users. Some of these capabilities include in-place upgrades, dynamic patching, support for Ceph block storage, and container technology for application development, to name a few. For example, the integration of Docker Project version 1.x with RHEL 7 now provides the ability to abstract and isolate applications. These upgraded features provide IT with tools to increase agility and offer developers the means to build high-level applications more quickly.

Linux containers are particularly helpful when an app involves multiple phases of development. The container feature can be used in daily development and in long-term operations. The same holds true for a number of other new features. Earlier adoption of the Linux 3.0.x kernel (now version 4.x) has enabled better process management, reliability, improved overall performance, and new levels of scalability.

For instance, the ability to perform dynamic patches provides greater control of uptime, increasingly important in 24/7 environments that must ensure unfettered access and dependability. In this white paper, we'll explore a number of updated features and performance improvements in RHEL 7 overall and in the latest 7.1 release. We will also examine benefits of the Linux kernel upgrade from the previous version and how it makes new management and ease-of-use capabilities possible.

In-Place Upgrades, Performance Co-Pilot, and Livemedia-Creator

The official release of RHEL 7 has been recognized as a substantial revision aimed at architects, system administrators, and DevOps. The 7.1 upgrade further refines these new features, which tie-in to major trends currently taking place in IT and enterprise data centers in general.

For those organizations and end users committed to enterprise Linux, one important change is in-place upgrades, which help improve overall maintenance. While RHEL version 4 to version 5 upgrades were perfectly possible via DVD boot, in-place upgrades from RHEL 6 to RHEL 7 now have full support. The upgrade tool prepares a system to upgrade RPM packages, download packages, reconfigure the boot-up sequence, and then reboot. Enterprises that have standardized on the RHEL 6 platform now have the flexibility to keep their current operations intact as they explore and transition to the current container-based application infrastructure.

With the in-place upgrade, administrators gain better insight into overall system improvements. When upgrading, it's important to minimize risk by removing unnecessary 32-bit packages from multiarch systems before upgrading. In addition, administrators may need to add extra repository specifications to the redhat-upgrade-tool depending on what channels were used to install software.

Administrators can also easily access a uniform set of management tools for networking, storage, file systems, and performance. While overall system improvements have been a critical part of the new upgrade, measuring performance levels is also important. Performance Co-Pilot offers a useful means for system-wide monitoring.

Users can analyze and record performance via an application programming interface (API) that imports and exports sampled and fixed data. Tools for interrogating, retrieving, and then processing the collected data are also included. Performance Co-Pilot transmits this data across a network and integrates with subsystems, such as syslogd, sar/sysstat, and systemd. It provides both a common GUI for browsing through the collected data as well as interactive text interfaces.

Performance Co-Pilot

Easier configurations are another key aspect of RHEL 7.1. For example, livemedia-creator enables the building of customized installation media from a kickstart file for different deployment use cases. The tool eases overall management of configurations on multiple machines across an enterprise, whether they are standardized corporate desktops, servers, virtual machines (VMs), or hyperscale deployments.

Essentially, livemedia-creator employs the Anaconda installation program (updated and improved in version 7.1), kickstart, and Lorax to create bootable media that uses the same path as a normal system install. The utility enables users to simply parse the kickstart file, extract the URL option, and then pass this as a command line argument to Anaconda. Livemedia-creator can be used to make live ISOs, bootable (partitioned) disk images and file system images for use with virtualization.

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