As a special Halloween treat this year we wanted to provide a download to Red Hat Linux 0.9 (beta). That 0.9 isn't a typo, that's the first publicly distributed release that got the entire Red Hat ball rolling.
We talked about this release before on the Red Hat Blog, in a post in 2019. It was distributed with a spiral-bound book full of documentation and a single CD-ROM.
After we wrote about the Halloween release in 2019, I got a number of pings on social media and via email asking for the files or an ISO image. For a variety of reasons, including a move, reconnecting with the ISO image took a little longer than one might hope. But, just in time for Halloween 2021, it has been relocated and is ready to go.
Download the Red Hat Linux 0.9 ISO on the Internet Archive
Rather than just share with a handful of people, I decided to put it somewhere anybody could find, where it can live for the long haul. It's now residing on the Internet Archive in the Community Software collection. Download Red Hat Linux 0.9 here.
You can grab the ISO, all 341MB of it, and try your hand at getting it to boot with your favorite virtualization solution. Or spin it up on real hardware if you happen to have a vintage 386 hanging around in your garage. You could even try containerizing it and creating an image to run with Podman if you're feeling really adventurous.
I wouldn't recommend trying to run any production workloads with it, but as an artifact of a bygone era of computing, it really deserves to be preserved.
You might notice, for example, that many directories on the ISO contain
TRANS.TBL files. These were common on early CD-ROMs because they provided for more flexible filenames than strictly allowed by the ISO 9660 standard for CD filesystems. On systems that couldn't handle longer filenames you'd see the MS-DOS style names with up to eight upperspace characters and a dot and a three-letter extension to longer names. So
BOOTSTRA.TAR could convert to
bootstrap.tar, and so forth.
Extracting RPP source with tar and cpio
The ISO has source RPP files as well as the binaries. (RPP being the precursor to RPM.) If you'd like to examine some of the early sources to utilities you may still use today, copy the source RPP file to your disk and use tar and cpio to extract it. Each file should have a cpio-archive file with the source, plus a `verify-list` file with the names of the source files:
tar -xvf filename-src.rpp cpio -iv < cpio-archive
The ISO has all you would ever want to run Linux... if it was 1994 and were looking for the 1.0.9 "stable" Linux kernel, or felt really adventurous and wanted to run the 1.1.54 dev kernel.
A more modern Linux
Obviously Red Hat Linux 0.9 isn't going to get you very far for any serious tasks today, but it might be fun to tinker with. Now, if you want to get some real work done, you might try signing up for the Red Hat Developer Subscription if you haven’t already, or if you want something for your personal desktop you might check out the latest Fedora release.