RHN Satellite 5.4 release in sight

When analyzing recent Bugzilla-reports and mailing list posts, we can expect a RHN Satellite release quite soon. Why? The main reason for this is the lack of SHA256 support in sat530. Since RHEL6 packages having SHA256 checksums, the release of Satellite 5.4 is a prerequisite for releasing RHEL6. As always there will also be a large load of bugfixes included.

Expected new features

  • yum repository syncronising
  • Support for SHA256 checksums
  • Maybe support for SHA384 checksums
  • Support for Oracle 11g databases (on external servers)
  • Improved preformance
  • Orphaned profile elimination to prevent wasting entitlement
  • Runs on RHEL6 (and thus Tomcat6?)
  • Recording of the install-date of packages

Of course, this list can be wrong. Because lots of bugzilla entries are not open to the public this list also tends to be incomplete. Lets have a closer look to the new features that most probably will hit rhn satellite 5.4

yum repository syncronising
This feature allows to sync custom channels with an external yum repository. Lot of people are mirroring EPEL and IUS repositories with the help of wget and push the packages into the satellite with the help of rhnpush. In future there will be a command like spacewalk-repo-sync –channel you-name-it-custom-channel (maybe the command will be renamed to rhn-repo-sync). This new feature will not only safe some GB of disk space, it will also speedups the process of getting new packages from external repos.

In Spacewalk 1.1 there were a lot of improvements made on repo handling. Hopefully sat540 will have them too. Since I was not able to figure out which Spacewalk version is the upstream for sat540, I can only hope that it will be version 1.1.

Support for SHA256 checksums
RHEL6 packages are all coming with SHA256 checksums. Those are not supported with the current release 5.3 and older. This means version 5.4 needs to be released close to the GA of RHEL6, otherwise customers are not able to manage RHEL6 systems internally.

Support for Oracle 11g databases (on external servers)
Right now, only Oracle 10g databases are supported on external servers. This is annoying for customers that already ditched Oracle 10g and upgraded all Databases to 11g. This new feature allows to have a homogeneous database landscape in the datacenter.

Orphaned profile elimination to prevent wasting entitlement
Today when re-provisioning a system, the system gets registered and entitled twice, the old system-profile needs to get deleted manually. Often this gets forgotten and wastes entitlements. In RHN Satellite 5.4 there will be a function to detects those duplicate system registrations.

Runs on RHEL6
The upstream project Spacewalk runs fine on Tomcat6, which will be included in RHEL6. It is quite unlikely that the Sat distribution comes with an own Tomcat5.5 server, so it means that the support for Tomcat6 was backported from Spacewalk.

Recording of the install-date of packages
This small feature is quite important for a lot of users. In some industries there are regulations to know when a particular package was installed. Of course you can get this information out of the systems /var/log/yum.log, but now you will have this information handy on your Satellite server.

Open Questions
There is a Bugzilla tracking bug for RHN Satellite version 5.3.1. What is it good for? Will there be support for RHEL6? My guess is not having RHEL6 support and 5.3.1 will be ditched even before its got released.

Will RHN Satellite 5.4 will also run on RHEL5? Maybe the distribution comes with Tomcat6 packages for RHEL5? Maybe Sat540 will be able to run with Tomcat5.5? We will see…

Upgrade scenarios: Will it be easy to upgrade from 5.3? Is it needed to refresh the OS from RHEL5 to RHEL6? If it is that easy as upgrade from i.e. Spacewalk 1.0 to Spacewalk 1.1 then we all will be happy 🙂

Release Date
As always, Red Hat does neither publish a roadmap nor release dates. All we know for RHEL6 is “later this year” and thats also true for the release of RHN Satellite 5.4.

The gap between Spacewalk 1.1 and RHN Satellite 5.3 is quite huge. Lots of new and interesting features have been introduced, lots of bugs fixed, much better performance. With the upcoming release of version 5.4 this gap will be much smaller.

In contrary to the release of 5.3 which was quite buggy on GA, I do not expect the same for 5.4 because Spacewalk seems to be very stable at the moment. This makes me confident that 5.4 will be a very stable version from GA on.

Have fun!

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