At VM Farms, we have long been fans of the Red Hat operating system (OS), especially their enterprise version of Linux. We strongly believe in the ideals that Red Hat set to achieve when they started off this branch of Linux more than 10 years ago.
Before the existence of an "enterprise" Linux, many businesses we reluctant to adopt Linux into their infrastructures due to the lack of accountability. If something went wrong, there was no one to point a finger at to have it fixed. The amazing community that made Linux what it is today gave little comfort to businesses looking for insurance policies on their IT deployments. Red Hat saw this as an opportunity to step in and fill this void. By packaging and releasing a version of Linux with an emphasis on stability, reliability, interoperability and above all, official support, opponents to open source software (or "freeware" as one uninformed person once told me once) had run out of excuses. Not only that, Red Hat's ridiculously long support cycle (now set at 10 years) is unmatched in the industry.
But all this support and stability comes at a cost. In order to achieve their goals, Red Hat takes the approach of freezing their software package versions for each release. Important bug fixes, security patches and even new features are back-ported by Red Hat to keep the OS secure. The downside is packages become out of date as time moves on and the release ages.
Recently, proponents of RHEL (and it's derivatives such as CentOS) have been finding it harder and harder to convince users to adopt the OS for newer projects because of this fact. The previous version, RHEL 5 was released back in 2007 and a lot has changed since then.
But the release of RHEL 6 changes all that as pretty much every package has been refreshed. This includes support for the new ext4 filesystem, XFS, NFSv4, as well as the latest stable versions of development languages such as Python 2.6, Ruby 1.8.7, PHP 5.3.2 and Java OpenJDK 6.
Being in this industry for a long time, we definitely appreciate the value that having a stable operating environment brings to any production setup. RHEL 6 is the next logical step in this progression, and we couldn't be more excited.