The world’s largest open source software provider just brought a new operating system on the market. On Thursday, Red Hat, known for its enterprise distributions of the Linux operating system, launched its Enterprise Linux 7 Atomic Host OS. The new OS is specifically designed to run the latest generation of applications as Linux containers.
Linux containers are virtualization environments that allow organizations to run multiple isolated Linux systems on a single Linux control host. Containers introduce autonomy for applications by packaging apps with the libraries and other binaries on which they depend.
Container-based architectures can provide more development and deployment flexibility, while simplifying maintenance requirements and maintaining the same level of performance, stability and security as non-virtualized systems.
Enterprise-Grade Linux Containers
The new operating system will provide enterprises with the tools they need to build and run their own Linux containers, according to Red Hat. In addition, the company said its latest OS is built specifically with the needs of enterprise IT departments in mind, with enterprise-grade security, ongoing product upgrades, proactive diagnostics, and access to support.
“Red Hat is committed to offering enterprises a complete and integrated container-based infrastructure solution, combining container-based application packaging with robust, optimized infrastructure that will enable easy movement of Red Hat Enterprise Linux-certified applications across bare metal systems, virtual machines and private and public clouds -- all of this with the product and security lifecycle that enterprise customers require,” Red Hat said.
The company intends to make Linux containers a reliable component of enterprise IT across the hybrid cloud. Because the Atomic Host OS is based on Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux 7, the company said the new OS benefits from the previous operating system’s stability and maturity, and also gives it a large ecosystem of hardware partners.
Addressing Security Concerns
But despite the increased flexibility provided by container-based architecture, the platform has also raised security concerns among some users. Red Hat said the Atomic Host operating system addresses these issues by providing automated security updates on demand. Red Hat customers already receive security notifications and product updates for threats such as Heartbleed, Shellshock, and Ghost.
Atomic Host also comes with an image-like update feature that allows enterprises to retain previous versions to facilitate rollbacks, if necessary. The company also provides certification and support for containers built using platform images provided by Red Hat, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 and 7 and certified containers from Red Hat’s independent software vendor partners.
The company said it is also providing stronger security by default for the Atomic Host system through SELinux, cgroups and kernel namespaces, isolating each container in a multi-container environment.
Additionally, Red Hat is providing support for super-privileged containers that enables host management applications to access the host and other containers in a secure manner. A super-privileged container is a specialized container that provides users with the ability to install third-party software. It has also made creating and running super-privileged containers much easier, the company said.