Red Hat Linux, assembled by the company Red Hat, was a widely used Linux distribution until its discontinuation in 2004.
Early releases of Red Hat Linux were called Red Hat Commercial Linux; Red Hat first published the software on November 3, 1994. It was the first Linux distribution to use the RPM Package Manager as its packaging format, and over time has served as the starting point for several other distributions, such as Mandriva Linux and Yellow Dog Linux.
In 2003, Red Hat discontinued the Red Hat Linux line in favor of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) for enterprise environments. Fedora, developed by the community-supported Fedora Project and sponsored by Red Hat, is a free-of-cost alternative intended for home use. Red Hat Linux 9, the final release, hit its official end-of-life on April 30, 2004, although updates were published for it through 2006 by the Fedora Legacy project until that shut down in early 2007.
Version 3.0.3 was one of the first Linux distributions to support Executable and Linkable Format instead of the older a.out format.
Red Hat Linux introduced a graphical installer called Anaconda developed by Ketan Bagal, intended to be easy to use for novices, and which has since been adopted by some other Linux distributions. It also introduced a built-in tool called Lokkit for configuring the firewall capabilities.
In version 6 Red Hat moved to glibc 2.1, egcs-1.2, and to the 2.2 kernel. It also introduced Kudzu, a software library for automatic discovery and configuration of hardware.
Version 7 was released in preparation for the 2.4 kernel, although the first release still used the stable 2.2 kernel. Glibc was updated to version 2.1.92, which was a beta of the upcoming version 2.2 and Red Hat used a patched version of GCC from CVS that they called "2.96". The decision to ship an unstable GCC version was due to GCC 2.95's bad performance on non-i386 platforms, especially DEC Alpha. Newer GCCs had also improved support for the C++ standard, which caused much of the existing code not to compile.
In particular, the use of a non-released version of GCC caused some criticism, e.g. from Linus Torvalds' and The GCC Steering Committee; Red Hat was forced to defend their decision. GCC 2.96 failed to compile the Linux kernel, and some other software used in Red Hat, due to stricter checks. It also had an incompatible C++ ABI with other compilers. The distribution included a previous version of GCC for compiling the kernel, called "kgcc".
As of Red Hat Linux 8.0, UTF-8 was enabled as the default character encoding for the system. This had little effect on English-speaking users, but enabled much easier internationalisation and seamless support for multiple languages, including ideographic, bi-directional and complex script languages along with European languages. However, this did cause some negative reactions among existing Western European users, whose legacy ISO-8859-based setups were broken by the change.
Version 8.0 was also the second to include the Bluecurve desktop theme. It used a common theme for GNOME-2 and KDE 3.0.2 desktops, as well as OpenOffice-1.0. KDE members did not appreciate the change, claiming that it was not in the best interests of KDE.
Version 9 supported the Native POSIX Thread Library, which was ported to the 2.4 series kernels by Red Hat.
Red Hat Linux lacked many features due to possible copyright and patent problems. For example, MP3 support was disabled in both Rhythmbox and XMMS; instead, Red Hat recommended using Ogg Vorbis, which has no patents. MP3 support, however, could be installed afterwards, although royalties are required everywhere MP3 is patented. Support for Microsoft's NTFS file system was also missing, but could be freely installed as well.
Red Hat Linux was originally developed exclusively inside Red Hat, with the only feedback from users coming through bug reports and contributions to the included software packages – not contributions to the distribution as such. This was changed in late 2003 when Red Hat Linux merged with the community-based Fedora Project. The new plan is to draw most of the codebase from Fedora when creating new Red Hat Enterprise Linux distributions. Fedora replaces the original Red Hat Linux download and retail version. The model is similar to the relationship between Netscape Communicator and Mozilla, or StarOffice and OpenOffice.org, although in this case the resulting commercial product is also fully free software.
Box cover shot of Red Hat Linux 5.2
Release dates were drawn from announcements on comp.os.linux.announce. Version names are chosen as to be cognitively related to the prior release, yet not related in the same way as the release before that.
The Fedora and Red Hat Projects were merged on September 22, 2003.
x86 release history
||29 July 1994
||First test release, not publicly distributed, used RPP package manager.
|Old version, no longer supported: 0.9
||31 October 1994
|Purchased beta, came with documentation and graphical system management tools.
|Old version, no longer supported: 1
||ACC Bookstores (Bob Young) bought out Red Hat Software, Inc. (Mark Ewing) and introduced the "Red Hat Commercial Linux" moniker.
|Old version, no longer supported: 1.1
|Called "Mother's Day Plus One".
|Old version, no longer supported: 2.0
||20 September 1995
||First stable RPM release. Started using the "Red Hat LiNUX" branding.
|Old version, no longer supported: 2.1
||23 November 1995
|The first Alpha release (January 1996) was based on this version.
|Old version, no longer supported: 3.0.3
||1 May 1996
||First version to release multiple architecture (x86/ELF, Alpha/a.out) at the same time. Introduced the Metro-X server, glint graphical management tool for RPM, and graphical printer configuration.
|Old version, no longer supported: 3.9
||RPM rewritten in C, introduced PAM, kernel modules instead of 72 different kernels.
|Old version, no longer supported: 4.0
||3 October 1996
||Added support for SPARC architecture, ELF for Alpha. Introduced Shadowman™ logo, free electronic format documentation, Red Baron browser.
|Old version, no longer supported: 4.1
||3 February 1997
||InfoWorld, Best of 1996, Operating Systems.
|Old version, no longer supported: 4.2
||19 May 1997
||Shipped old libc 5.3 instead of buggy 5.4, avoided many issues this way but was widely criticized for it.
|Old version, no longer supported: 4.8
||27 August 1997
||Introduced glibc 2.0.
|Old version, no longer supported: 4.9
||7 November 1997
||Cemented the two-cycle beta release style, due to massive changes in C library version.
|Old version, no longer supported: 5.0
||1 December 1997
||Introduced BRU2000-PE™ backup and Real Audio™ client and server. 1997 InfoWorld Product of the Year.
|Old version, no longer supported: 5.1
||22 May 1998
||Introduced the Linux Applications CD, GNOME preview version (separate, not default), linuxconf, Netscape browser. Last release to use live filesystem off the CD.
|Old version, no longer supported: 5.2
||2 November 1998
||GNOME technology preview (separate, not default).
|Old version, no longer supported: 5.9
||17 March 1999
|Old version, no longer supported: 6.0
||26 April 1999
||Introduced glibc 2.1, egcs, 2.2 kernel, integrated GNOME.
|Old version, no longer supported: 6.0.50
||6 September 1999
||Introduced completely rewritten graphical installer (anaconda), with graphical mode and text mode implemented in Python.
|Old version, no longer supported: 6.1
||4 October 1999
||InfoWorld, 1999 Product of the Year, Operating Systems, multiple other awards.
|Old version, no longer supported: 6.1.92
||9 February 2000
|Old version, no longer supported: 6.2
||3 April 2000
||First time to offer ISO images for FTP download.
|Old version, no longer supported: 6.9.5
||31 July 2000
|Old version, no longer supported: 7
||25 September 2000
||First release to support Red Hat Network out of the box. Caused the gcc 2.96 flame war, leading to the 2.96RH name being used later.
|Old version, no longer supported: 7.0.90
||31 January 2001
||First release with 2.4 kernel.
|Old version, no longer supported: 7.0.91
||21 February 2001
|Old version, no longer supported: 7.1
||16 April 2001
||First release to debute a new kernel stream out of the beta cycle. First release to simultaneously support all included languages. Introduced Mozilla browser.
|Old version, no longer supported: 7.1.93
||2 August 2001
||ext3 becomes default, installer offers to convert ext2 filesystems. LILO replaced with Grub as default.
|Old version, no longer supported: 7.2
||22 October 2001
||GNOME 1.4, KDE 2.2. Would serve as development basis for RHEL 2.1 AS (Pensacola).
|Old version, no longer supported: 7.2.91
||22 March 2002
||Tried to ship lots of new stuff (gcc3, GTK2, Python2) but decided to postpone them for 8.0.
|Old version, no longer supported: 7.3
||6 May 2002
||Last release with the Netscape browser.
|Old version, no longer supported: 7.3.29
||4 July 2002
||Tested 700MB ISO images but they proved problematic.
|Old version, no longer supported: 8.0
||30 September 2002
||gcc 3.2, glibc 2.3 RC, OpenOffice.org 1.0.1, GNOME 2, KDE 3.0.3. Introduced Bluecurve™ cross-environment unified look and feel.
|Old version, no longer supported: 9
||31 March 2003
||KDE 3.1 and GNOME 2.2. Introduced NPTL support with glibc 2.3.2 and kernel 2.4.20. Would serve as development basis for RHEL 3.
|Old version, no longer supported: 9.0.93
||21 July 2003
||Final RHL release. It would be merged with Fedora Linux to form release Fedora Core 1 test 2, version 0.94.
Older version, still supported
Latest preview version