Red Hat (RHT) has updated its lineup of open source programming languages and development tools known as Red Hat Software Collections, which are now available in a beta release of version 1.1 The development suite complements (but is released independently of) the company's flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) product.

Red Hat Software Collections, which debuted in fall 2013, are targeted at open source software developers who want a single source for deploying the most up-to-date stable versions of leading open source programming languages, databases and toolsets. Red Hat offers the suite as a subscription service with the promise of providing more frequent updates to the software than it offers for RHEL, where software packages generally receive updates only when the company rolls out a new release of the operating system itself.

Red Hat plans to offer a new base release of Red Hat Software Collections every 18 months, but it will provide incremental updates more frequently. Version 1.1 of the platform, which is the first update to appear since Red Hat introduced the service several months ago, is one of those more minor updates. It includes the following changes, according to Red Hat:

  • Two new open source HTTP server options in the form of Apache HTTP Server and Nginx (available as a Technology Preview)
  • PHP 5.5, a server-side scripting language designed for web development
  • Ruby 2.0 and Rails 4.0, which for the first time will be packaged separately, providing developers with access to an updated version of Ruby without requiring the installation of Rails
  • MongoDB, a high-performance open source document database and leading NoSQL database that provides high availability and easy scalability
  • Thermostat 1.0, a tool for monitoring Java virtual machine instances on multiple hosts

Although the Software Collections are currently a much less important part of Red Hat's business than RHEL, they're a good example to the open source community of how an organization can reconcile users' demand for stable yet current software with the rapid pace and decentralized nature of open source development. Open source vendors such as Red Hat rely heavily on code produced by third parties who rarely issue new releases of their software at the same time—and often don't even stick to a regular release schedule—which is why it is so difficult to keep an open source platform fully up to date. But Red Hat does the dirty work of amalgamating the most recent stable releases of far-flung open source projects into an integrated software suite, which can save developers a lot of time and hassle—if they subscribe to the Software Collections, of course.