On November 6, 2003, Red Hat announced Fedora Core 1, the first software release of the Fedora Project. This announcement marked the beginning of a collaborative project between Red Hat and its user community.

A history lesson

The Fedora Project traces its roots to a community-led project called fedora.us.

Fedora is a community project to ease publishing and delivery of 3rd party software on the Red Hat platform.

At the time, Red Hat Linux provided a core set of packages suitable for most users. The Fedora project set themselves up as a community of dedicated Red Hat Linux users with a goal of finding and packaging more software that was not shipped in the core Red Hat Linux product offering.

A few months after launching Fedora.us, an even bigger announcement hit the fedora.us homepage. Red Hat Linux was merging with Fedora Linux, resulting in the Fedora Project. 🎂

The Fedora Project was now a single, community-based team of passionate Linux developers, many of whom were still Red Hat employees. However, the projects were still somewhat separate. Red Hat Linux became Fedora Core; an openly developed project but was restricted to Red Hat employees. Fedora.us (or Fedora Linux) became Fedora Extras, where community members could continue to contribute packages and enhancements on top of Fedora Core.

This structure continued to exist for six releases of Fedora Core. With the release of Fedora 7, the distinction between Fedora Core and Fedora Extras was dropped, and Fedora was one big, happy family!

What’s new in Fedora Core 1

The Linux software ecosystem 15 years ago looked very different that today. Fedora Core 1 introduced a few new packages that might sound familiar to the astute reader:

  • bitstream-vera-fonts
  • dbus
  • epiphany
  • nano
  • rhythmbox
  • yum

Innovation and early adoption has been a part of Fedora since the beginning. Even in 2003, the Fedora Project was pushing forward with new projects. The following are excerpts from the Fedora Core 1 Release Notes.

  • “CUPS is now the only print spooler provided. During upgrades, if LPRng is installed, it will be replaced by CUPS.”
  • “Fedora Core 1 includes the Native POSIX Thread Library (NPTL), a new implementation of POSIX threads for Linux. This library provides performance improvements and increased scalability.”
  • “Fedora Core 1 now uses a graphical interface while booting.”

Not only that, Fedora was in the process of migrating its font system to the new fontconfig/Xft, and switching to UTF-8 across the distribution!

Default desktop

Even in 2003, GNOME was the default desktop for Fedora.

Fedora Core 1 shipped GNOME 2.4, adopting the classic Red Hat Linux panel layout over the upstream project’s two-panel layout.

The Mozilla Suite was the go-to web browser at the time. Mozilla had not yet started the Firefox standalone browser project, so this suite included an email client and usenet news reader. While Mozilla included an email client, Fedora defaulted to Ximian Evolution as its email/groupware program.

Also included:

  • OpenOffice.org (formerly StarOffice, and not yet LibreOffice)
  • gAIM (Pidgin would rise in popularity as alternatives to AIM came about, such as Yahoo! Messenger and MSN Messenger)
  • X-Chat

Hardware requirements

Fedora Core 1 has some pretty modest hardware requirements, even for 2003.

CPU

At a minimum, it requires a Pentium-class CPU. The release notes include an important note about compiler optimizations.

NOTE: Fedora Core 1 is optimized for Pentium PRO (and later) CPUs, but also supports Pentium-class CPUs. This approach has been taken because Pentium-class optimizations actually result in reduced performance for non-Pentium-class processors.

For a graphical installation (an X11-powered desktop), a 400 MHz Pentium II is recommended. And for text-mode only, a 200 MHz Pentium-class or better!

Hard Disk Space

The release notes list a few different space requirements, depending on the intended use:

  • Custom Installation (Minimal): 520MB
  • Server: 870MB
  • Personal Desktop: 1.9GB
  • Workstation: 2.4GB
  • Custom Installation (Everything): 5.3GB

In today’s world of terabytes of cloud storage, the modest difference in megabytes between a “Server” and “Personal Desktop” seems downright quaint in comparison.

Memory

There is evidence of Moore’s Law in the memory requirements for Fedora Core 1 too. At a minimum, for “text-mode”, it requires 64 MB! And for graphical installations, that increases to 192 MB at a minimum, but recommends at least 256 MB.

Try it out!

Fedora is proud of its heritage. There is no better way to understand history than to experience it. Fortunately, modern virtualization software ships with Fedora Workstation by default! So why not try out Fedora Core 1 yourself? We’ve put together a virtual disk image of Fedora Core 1 (927 MB download) that can be imported directly into GNOME Boxes. It even points to the “current” update repositories so you can try out the “new” yum package manager yourself.