December 19, 2003 4:28 PM PST

Red Hat tests Linux update

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Red Hat began public testing this week of an update designed to make its new premium Linux product work better on IBM servers and computers that use Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron chip.

Update 1 of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 is expected to be final in mid-January, spokeswoman Leigh Day said on Friday.

The update will speed up RHEL 3 on IBM mainframes, Red Hat said. It will also make it work on a broader number of IBM's Power-chip-based pSeries and iSeries servers and on some new servers using Intel's Itanium 2 processor.

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RHEL, which Red Hat sells in the form of an annual subscription for support and updates, boosted the company's profits in its most recent quarter to $4.1 million, the company reported on Thursday. An expectation of 44,000 new subscribers for the current quarter led several financial analysts to upgrade their financial estimates for Red Hat, and Red Hat's stock jumped $3.21, or 22 percent, to $17.49 on Friday.

The update also should run faster on some Opteron systems because it will recognize "non-uniform memory access" (NUMA) characteristics of some Opteron-based machines. NUMA systems need operating systems that are geared to expect different response times when a processor requests information from memory, depending on where the memory is located within the overall system.

One potential customer, who was investigating a 300-server Opteron system, expressed concern Thursday on a mailing list that Red Hat's Linux ran more slowly on Opteron systems than Linux Enterprise Server 8, from Red Hat rival SuSE.

Red Hat programmer Arjan van de Ven responded that RHEL 3 Update 1 adds the NUMA support and that "for one type of benchmark it indeed mattered quite a bit."

The Raleigh, N.C.-based company said Update 1 will work faster on large database servers. The revamp will also include bug fixes for clustering software, which links multiple systems into a cooperative group, and for programming tools.

Update 1 will be delivered to RHEL customers through the Red Hat Network update service and won't require software to be recertified, Red Hat has said.


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