RedHat Linux 7.3 (2002)

RedHat Linux 7.3 was released in 2002. Internet access in most places was still slow, so it was easier and cheaper to buy a CD or copy it from a friend than download it.

Package repositories as we know them today didn't exist yet, although there was an update utility and RedHat Network existed already, installing a package from a remote source in one command was not possible.

Anyway, let's just look at screenshots from the past.

Loading the CD takes us to the installer.

Installer splash screen

Hardware configuration and partitionining aren't all that interesting. What is more interesting is that back then installers usually didn't install a set of packages selected by the distro maintainers, but asked you what you want to install, up to individual packages.

Package group selection interface

Now just watch the progress bar.

Installation progress bar

Well, until the installer asks us to insert the next CD.

CD change request

The installer tries to keep us entertained.

RedHat history bit (Marc Ewing and his red hat)

Maybe it's not a very health conscious advice, but they have a point. At the time, OS installation could easily take a couple of hours on average hardware.

Let's all go to the kitchen and have ourselves a snack

With modern hardware, we don't have to wait so long of course.

Installation finished

When floppy drives are ubiquitous, a rescue floppy is quite a useful thing.

Rescue floppy creation

Time to reboot.

GRUB splash screen

Graphical boot didn't exist at the time.

Boot messages

Finally we are at the login screen.

GDM login screen

GNOME 1.4. Back then it would take some time to load and had a load progress screen, but now it loads too fast to easily make a screenshot of it.

Empty GNOME desktop

Those days I preferred KDE though. This is 3.0.0.

Empty KDE desktop

Lots of settings.

KDE control center

It could even cosplay CDE, in a rather convincing way.

KDE with CDE-like theme

Binary packages for distros that old are hard to find, and finding and building old source tarballs is hardly worth the time, but we can look at some of the software included in the installation CDs.

AbiWord 0.99.5.

AbiWord version screen

Mostly works, not with ODF and post-2000 MS Word format of course. Also, default fonts look awful.

OASIS Word specification sample opened in AbiWord

Some things, like gnuplot's default colors, stayed the same for many years.

Gnuplot displaying a sine plot in the X terminal

Ethereal before it was Wireshark.

Traffic dump of pinging displayed in Ethereal

KGhostView still displays PDFs pretty much fine. There was Acrobat Reader too, I don't remember if it was any better.

A research paper from opened in KGhostView

Python 1.5.

A simple Python code example in the REPL

OCaml 3.06. The binary package somehow survived on an INRIA FTP site.

A simple OCaml code example in the REPL

Mozilla 0.9.9. Still renders some websites sort of correctly. website displayed in Mozilla

Well, only some of them. Most are beyond any recognition. website displayed in Mozilla, very incorrectly

Still it's better than Netscape. I couldn't find a single modern (not archived) website it would still be able to render. website displayed in Netscape incorrectly

If you want to install it yourself, images are still available from a number of servers, e.g. from Works fine in VirtualBox, just don't use a SATA controller (SATA didn't exist at the time), IDE or SCSI should be fine. Mouse integration and the like obviously don't work, VirtualBox itself also didn't exist at the time.