Red Hat's been the king of Linux for a while -- but as of lately, it's been quite some time since they released an update to their enterprise edition of their distribution, RHEL. 2 years in fact. Now, Red Hat has finally released a new version of RHEL: REHL 5. So it's pretty safe to say that they've been working on this release for around 2 years.
A quote from the website says this:
Thank you. We've been listening.
Over two years ago we began asking what you wanted in the next major release from Red Hat. Today we'd like to show you what we heard.
Maybe too long for some users, but this is a very significant release. Red Hat is working hard to provide a closer integration of the software and the client, and they do this in several ways.
With this new release, they've added decent virtualization features. This is becoming increasingly important, as processor speeds make it possible to acceptably-run operating systems in a virtual machine, pulling the mesh between Linux and Windows closer together.
Interestingly enough, Red Hat's multi-core processor support was helped out by Intel. They say that by closely integrating their services, they were able to get the virtualization software running at the highest performance possible.
Other updates include a better core Linux experience. They've upgraded the Linux kernel to 2.6.18, and added much better hardware support, an ever-critical asset to have in any Linux distribution. Security has also improved massively. They've included better GUI tools for managing the settings, making monitoring and other tasks simple.
It's nice to have an upgrade to this monster of a distro, especially after such a long time with little or no news. But in my opinion, sometimes it's better to wait until you can release a solid version, rather then to jump ahead too soon. It seems like this is Red Hat's mentality at the moment, and for now it seems to be working.