Red Hat at 30: Success with a Whiff of Open Source and Linux

Red Hat's 30th anniversary is a testament to the power of Open Source and the strength of the Linux community. Happy Birthday, Red Hat!

Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open-source solutions, recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. Founded in 1993, Red Hat has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a small company with a handful of employees to a global corporation with 19,000 employees and a presence in more than 100 countries.

Over the last 30 years, Red Hat has become synonymous with enterprise-grade Linux distributions, providing robust and reliable solutions to businesses of all sizes.

That’s why the company’s 30th anniversary is an event worth celebrating. But, before we go any further, let’s travel back in time and remind our younger readers of the company’s beginnings.

Red Hat: The Beginning

The year is 1993. The internet was in its infancy, the term social network didn’t exist, and clouds were only in the sky. Yet, just a year and a half earlier, a 21-year-old student at the University of Helsinki, Linus Torvalds, had released the first version of his hobby project, Linux – a new, young operating system with an uncertain future.

Red Hat was incorporated on March 26, 1993, by its founders, Bob Young, and Marc Ewing.

Red Hat initial logo.
Red Hat initial logo.

At the same time, two other now-legendary Linux individuals took a chance on Torvalds’ creation and laid the groundwork for some of the early Linux distributions. Patrick Volkerding, with his Slackware, and Ian Murdock, created Debian.

To round out the magnificent foursome, the Germany-based Software und System-Entwicklung (S.u.S.E.), known today as SUSE, emerged on the horizon. So, when we use the term Linux distribution today, in 1993, the world was reduced to four names, Slackware, Debian, Red Hat, and S.u.S.E.

On July 29, 1994, Red Hat’s initial test release, not distributed publicly and built on its original package management system, RPP (yes, it is not a typo, and it is not an RPM), saw the daylight. Three months later, on October 31, with an appropriately – Halloween release, Red Hat released its first 0.9 widely-available Beta, powered by Linux kernel 1.0.9.

In May 1995, built on the Linux kernel 1.2.8, Red Hat Commercial Linux 1.0 was released, replacing the very tall top hat logo with a more dynamic one – a man walking quickly, carrying a briefcase, wearing a red hat on his head.

Red Hat Commercial Linux 1.0 logo.
Red Hat Commercial Linux 1.0 logo.

The Red Hat’s Shadowman logo was introduced with the distro’s 4.0 release in 1996.

Red Hat's Shadowman logo.
Red Hat’s Shadowman logo.

It is all history from there, a story of success that has become Red Hat, the largest and most successful company to base its business model on Open Source. So fully deserved, let us mention below a small part of the company’s merits in making the Linux world as we know it today.

Red Hаt at 30: What It Did for the Linux World

First and foremost, Linux is far beyond software – it is a community. And Red Hat’s contribution to the Open Source community is enormous.

The kernel is at the heart of any Linux-based operating system – the foundation on which everything known as Linux today is built. And guess what? Red Hat is the leading corporate contributor to the most important open-source project of all, the Linux kernel.

They’ve made significant contributions to the development of the Linux kernel, especially regarding virtualization, security, and performance.

Next stop – GNOME. How many of you know that Red Hat is also among the leading contributors to GNOME Desktop Project? Largely thanks to the company and the fantastic work of its developers, we all have the privilege, taking it for granted, of enjoying this free top-notch desktop environment.

However, if we covered every open-source project in which Red Hat engages or contributes, this article would be a very long read. So we’ll mention names like systemd, KVM, OpenSSH, LibreOffice, PulseAudio, Xorg, D-Bus, NetworkManager, JBoss, Ansible, etc.

Of course, not to mention Red Hat’s work with other companies and organizations to advance open-source initiatives such as OpenStack and Kubernetes.

But software aside. Globally speaking, Red Hat made Linux on the server a reality. And this is a merit that cannot be denied. Yes, seen through today’s eyes, the words ‘Linux’ and ‘server’ seem to have been invented to always stand together in the same sentence.

But things didn’t seem that way 25 years ago when proprietary UNIX vendors and Microsoft’s Windows NT dominated. And a huge part of the credit for Linux being in the server field today, where it is, is due to Red Hat and their vision and efforts towards Linux for business. In other words, they were bridging the tech world with the corporate one.

And last but not least, don’t forget about Fedora – project, backed by Red Hat and developed by the community. Each release grows increasingly, taking a bigger piece of the Linux desktop market. Delivering a vanilla GNOME experience and being uncompromisingly stable and reliable, Fedora deservedly ranks among the best desktop Linux distributions these days.

To adhere more closely to the open source philosophy, a little over two years ago, Red Hat even made its flagship product RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), available for free use by everyone. In other words, you can download and use RHEL free of charge via a no-cost Red Hat Enterprise Linux developer subscription. Here’s how to do it.

So, everything said so far leads us to the logical conclusion below.

Bottom Line

This entire article is not meant to glorify Red Hat unnecessarily. They don’t need that. On the contrary, they have earned it over the past 30 years, and their enormous contributions to Open Source are undeniable. But, of course, as bystanders, especially Linux lovers, we haven’t always agreed with the company’s choices throughout the years.

Switching the once-free Red Hat to paid RHEL severely slapped the Linux community. Also, what the company did with CentOS will unlikely be forgotten soon. However, it resulted in something nice – we now have Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux. Two high-end distributions ready to satisfy the highest expectations in the business segment and the Linux server field in general.

So, with massive credit to Open Source for being what we know today, all we can say is – Happy 30th Anniversary, Red Hat! And thank you for everything!

So, whatever open-source software you use, take the time to mark Red Hat’s 30th anniversary however you see fit. Perhaps it has inspired your own Linux journey in some way.

And please, have some cake. Cake is good!

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

Think You're an Ubuntu Expert? Let's Find Out!

Put your knowledge to the test in our lightning-fast Ubuntu quiz!
Ten questions to challenge yourself to see if you're a Linux legend or just a penguin in the making.

1 / 10

Ubuntu is an ancient African word that means:

2 / 10

Who is the Ubuntu's founder?

3 / 10

What year was the first official Ubuntu release?

4 / 10

What does the Ubuntu logo symbolize?

5 / 10

What package format does Ubuntu use for installing software?

6 / 10

When are Ubuntu's LTS versions released?

7 / 10

What is Unity?

8 / 10

What are Ubuntu versions named after?

9 / 10

What's Ubuntu Core?

10 / 10

Which Ubuntu version is Snap introduced?

The average score is 68%