Throughout the history of computing, many once famous operating systems have fallen out of favor; others never knew fame, and they will hardly sound like anything to the average user who knows nothing beyond Windows, Linux, Mac and Android.
But they exist places on the Net where it is possible not only to find and download these operating systems, but also rare and early versions of other better known ones: an unborn ‘Windows 96’, the first Linux distribution ever created …
ArchiveOS describes its mission as that of “safeguarding the great work of many people who created distributions and operating systems, both open source and freeware“.
Almost all the systems that they offer for download are considered discontinued (due to the announcement of their creators or de facto, due to inactivity), although sometimes they make exceptions to include the first ISO of an active project. Two years ago, ArchiveOS exceeded half a thousand hosted operating systems.
The categories this file is divided into are ‘Linux’, ‘BSD’, ‘DOS’, ‘Solaris’ and ‘Others’. And, in all cases, the download link will be accompanied by a complete description sheet of each system (even, sometimes, of a screenshot).
The ‘Others’ section houses the biggest gems (i.e. rarities) on the web. Without leaving the letter ‘A’, we can find things like AEROS (a Debian Linux distribution that virtualized an open source version of Amiga OS), or Amoeba (the operating system created by Andrew S. Tannenbaum as an educational project and that this used to create the first version of Python).
If you are looking for a proprietary operating system, the previous website will not have been of much help. Fortunately, there is WinWord, a website where we will also find all commercial versions of Windows up to Windows ME.
And we need the “commercial” thing because We will also find several pre-release versions that did not reach the marketEither because, like Windows Longhorn, it became Windows Vista or because, like Windows Nashville, it was canceled before becoming Windows 96.
But WinWorld user lives not only on Windows: DOS operating systems (not just MS-DOS, but also DR-DOS, MC-DOS, 86-DOS, PTS-DOS, Wendin DOS, etc), OS / 2, Unix, and a handful of Apple operating systems they also have a place on the web.
And this web, Unlike the rest of this list, it also includes ‘abandonware’ applications with which to nourish the aforementioned operating systems.
Old Versions of Linux
‘Old versions of Linux’ is a simple website that collects ISO files of Linux distributions (but also other operating systems) in chronological order. The oldest is a copy of OS / 2 Warp 3 from 1994, followed by version 3.1 e3 Slackware Linux from 1996.
Ubuntu 4.10 and Mandrake Lunyx 3.0 Corporate-Server, both from 2004, are the first 64-bit downloads; while Haiku R1 / beta2 (the successor to BeOS) is the only 32-bit operating system uploaded to the web so far this year.
- Linux-Distros.com: It is similar to the previous one, but more scarce in ISO’s. If we highlight it, it is, above all, because it hosts a 1.1 Gb compilation of Linux distributions released between 1993 and 1994, called “The History of Linux”.
- Archive.org: The large (but sometimes confusing) file repository on the Internet has its own collection of Linux distributions (mostly different versions of Puppy Linux) and a collection of commercial operating systems (mostly versions Windows).
- Official repositories: Some of the main active Linux distributions keep the ISOs of all their versions archived and ready for download. This is the case of RedHat, Fedora, Debian or Ubuntu.
- BetaArchive.com: Another website that collects tons of beta software and abandonware, both operating systems and applications and games.