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Article from Issue 212/2018
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Ubuntu 18.04 released, Richard Stallman calls Azure Sphere OS a positive step, RHEL 7.5 released, Microsoft releases a Linux-based OS, and Red Hat and Microsoft join forces for Hybrid Cloud. 

Ubuntu 18.04 Released

Canonical has announced the release of Ubuntu 18.04, aka Bionic Beaver. It's a long term support (LTS) release that's suitable for enterprise customers and servers. Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will be supported for five years for Ubuntu Desktop, Ubuntu Server, and Ubuntu Core.

Ubuntu 18.04 is also the first Ubuntu LTS, after years, that ships with Gnome as the default desktop shell. In recent releases, Canonical has used its own Unity shell on top of Gnome to gain more influence and control over the user experience.

Ubuntu 18.04 comes with a customized version of Linux Kernel 4.15 that adds support for the latest hardware and peripherals. Some of the hardware-focused improvements that this kernel brings to Ubuntu include a CPU controller for the cgroup v2 interface, AMD secure memory encryption support, the latest AMD driver with software RAID enhancements, and management for systems with SATA Link Power Management.

Java users will continue to use OpenJDK 8, which has moved to universe and will remain available for the life of 18.04. The move is intended to help developers with migration issues for packages, custom applications, or scripts that can't be built with OpenJDK 10 or 11.

Security is one of the core features of Ubuntu 18.04. In a conference call, Mark Shuttleworth, the founder and CEO of Canonical, said that Ubuntu 18.04 is fully protected against Spectre and Meltdown.

Richard Stallman Calls Azure Sphere OS a Positive Step

Earlier this month, Microsoft shook the world with the announcement of Azure Sphere OS, an operating system designed to run on Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The OS is powered by a customized version of the Linux kernel. This marks the first product by Microsoft that runs on the Linux kernel. What's even more interesting is that Microsoft will be shipping a product that has code released under the GNU GPLv2. I talked to Galen Hunt, partner managing director, Microsoft Azure Sphere, who confirmed that Microsoft will comply with the licenses used for the code.

Last week, I met with Richard M. Stallman in his hometown of Boston to get his reaction to the announcement, "That's good. That program is free software. It's released under a free software license I wrote, which requires redistributors to respect the freedom of users and Microsoft is even going to respect the users freedom with regards to that particular program. Well, I'm glad about that," said Stallman.

However, he also criticized the community that coined the term "open source" to make copyleft licenses more acceptable for companies. He said that open source has done harm to the mission and goal of the Free Software Foundation: "…they coined the term open source to disconnect our software from our ethical ideas and they were fairly effective at that. Since then, we have to work hard to teach people, even the users of our software, that there's such a thing as the Free Software movement. That it's a movement for their freedom, that this is not just a matter of more convenient, more reliable software. Those are secondary desirable things, but they're not as important as freedom. Freedom is crucial," he said. Stallman said that he didn't use the term as it would have buried the idea behind the Free Software movement.

When asked how he really feels about Microsoft releasing code that's guided by the license he wrote, Stallman sounded positive, "It's just a beginning; I'm sure there's going to be a lot of non-free software in it. I see it as a small step. Remember, the goal is to kick non-free software out of your life; kick it out of our society. We should all be free. So when you compare this step with that goal, I see it as a small positive step."

RHEL 7.5 Released

Red Hat has released Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.5, which has a strong focus on hybrid cloud. As the market is evolving, so is Red Hat. In 2014, Red Hat signaled a shift in focus from data centers to mobile and cloud. Red Hat acquired companies like FeedHenry and CoreOS to strengthen its mobile and cloud portfolio.

Now the cash cow of Red Hat, RHEL, is reflecting their changing focus. RHEL 7.5 offers enhanced security and compliance controls, in addition to better integration with Microsoft Windows infrastructure both on-premise and in Microsoft Azure.

Companies are mixing environments – spanning across on-prem, public cloud, and private cloud. RHEL 7.5 tries to reduce the complexity, especially in terms of security, that comes with such a hybrid environment. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 has enhanced software security controls to mitigate risk.

Red Hat said that a major component of these controls is security automation through the integration of OpenSCAP with Red Hat Ansible Automation. This is designed to enable the creation of Ansible playbooks directly from OpenSCAP scans, which can then be used to implement remediations more rapidly and consistently across a hybrid IT environment. Sensitive data can also now be better secured across varied environments with enhancements to Network-Bound Disk Encryption that support automatic decryption of data volumes.

RHEL 7.5 also comes with production ready container solutions. RHEL 7.5 includes support for Buildah, an open source utility designed to help developers create and modify Linux container images without a full container run time or daemon running in the background.

RHEL 7.5 is available for multiple architectures including x86, IBM Power, IBM z Systems, and 64-bit ARM. Although RHEL is available for subscription, you can download the 30-day evaluation version for free.

Sources: https://www.redhat.com/en/about/press-releases/red-hat-strengthens-hybrid-clouds-backbone-latest-version-red-hat-enterprise-linux and https://access.redhat.com/products/red-hat-enterprise-linux/evaluation

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