To install Red Hat Linux 9, you do not really need to burn the iso image to a CD, neither do you need to go through a lengthy process of extracting the contents of the iso image and setting up an installation directory for a hard drive based install. I am sure some people's eyes are popping out at this stage. You are in good company if you are in this group.
What you have to do is extract the redhat boot diskette and rawwritewin from the first iso. use rawritewin to create a boot diskette. The correct image filename for this install type is bootdisk.img.
You are now good to go.
Reboot the system and start the system using the boot diskette. You will come to a screen where it tells you to choose an install method. Choose the most appropriate for you, but in my experience, the default, i.e. press return, will work just fine.
It then asks you for the install medium type, and you select iso from harddrive. It then asks you to type the location of the iso files on your hard drive. needless to say, it mounts FAT partitions automatically then, so should not have a problem. It show you the paths it has mounted them. After you select the directory with the files, whose names must include disc1, disc2 and disc3, it is mostly downhill. The catch is that you do not have the nice Graphical install. The good news is, the installation is very much the same without the graphicaal goodies. You can even leave the package selection for later when you boot into the system for the first time. To do this, just select Personal computer, or something like that and you get a good working configuration which you can tweak later.
Did I mention that this way, your system installs much faster, (because the iso is on a much faster medium, the hard disk).
After booting into Redhat, you can run redhat-config-packages with the isodir switch as follows,
# redhat-config-packages --isodir="/path/to/your/redhat/images/"
and you will fire up the Add/Remove Packages application of Red Hat. It will install all the packages from the cd's without problems.
For other options for redhat-config-packages, just type
# redhat-config-packages --help
and you will get the list of options/switches you can use.
Just information I thought was a bit difficult to come by and I thought I would share it.
And, oh by the way, you can always mount the iso's as directories using the mount command as follows,
# mount -t iso9660 -o loop /path/to/image.iso /path/to/mount/point
Or something like that if I made a typo. Newbies might find that useful information.
I think Red Hat is doing quite a good job with its tools, and I think they should be forgiven for not giving us a general package manager. But theirs has quite a few tricks up its sleave. I now have a linux installation fully running without needing to burn some CD's.
And oh, it helps to have a huge hard drive anyway. With a large hard drive you can keep the iso's on your hard drive too. No need to worry about your cd's not being returned anymore.