Both operating systems use the Linux 2.4.7 kernel and the Gnome 1.4 desktop environment. The vendor also announced pricing for its upcoming Red Hat Embedded Linux Developer Suite, starting at $2,500 (£1,760).
The Linux 2.4.7 kernel makes the open source operating system more scalable by improving its performance in computers with more than one processor, expanding its system memory up to 64Gbytes and using Ext3 journalling and a logical volume manager to better manage large file systems. It also has advanced power management features. The 2.4 Linux kernel was released by Linux creator Linus Torvalds in January.
The updated Red Hat Linux 7.2 comes with improved USB support, the Gnome and KDE desktop environments, game demo software, a Nautilus file manager from Eazel and a Mozilla Web browser. It also comes bundled with Sun Microsystems' StarOffice 5.2 office applications, and compilers for C, C++, Java, Python, Perl and PHP interpreters.
But the Gnome 1.4 open source desktop used by Red Hat is not perfectly compatible with the version developed by open source software vendor Ximian. Marty Wesley, a Red Hat product manager, said: "We're both pulling from the Gnome base, but from a different point in time." Ximian tends to use later versions of Gnome in order to stay cutting edge, he added, while Red Hat works longer on its Gnome products in order to improve stability.
Linux is not perceived to be as user-friendly as the Apple Computer or Microsoft desktop environments, an issue the open source community has tried to address with the Gnome project for an open source desktop. Just as Red Hat banks on Linux, Ximian banks on Gnome, producing its own flavour of the Linux-compatible desktop.
As Red Hat's modifications to Gnome are published under the GNU General Public License (GPL), the two versions will grow more compatible. "Ximian tends to stay a little closer to the tip of the tree... but all of these branches eventually fold back into the trunk," said Wesley.
The updated operating system for business PCs and servers, called Red Hat Linux Professional, comes with everything contained in the consumer version, as well as Web server applications software, application development tools, an e-commerce package and workstation applications including Adobe Systems's Acrobat reader and IBM's Java Run Time Environment. It also comes with system administrator software and two months of support, along with a six-month subscription to Red Hat Network Software Manager for one system.
Red Hat plans to release an advanced server version of Red Hat Linux 7.2 for data centre use within the next six months. The end of 2001 will see the release of versions of Red Hat Linux 7.2 for IBM's S/390 mainframe computers and for Intel's Itanium processor.
The company also reiterated its intent to release its developer suite for embedded Linux, but did not give a release date.