RH9 is known for being slow. Below is an excert telling where to go to spped things up.
"...Red Hat's conservatism with regards to default system settings. There is a configuration file, /etc/sysconfig/ harddrives, that can fix this. It contains the settings to enable DMA mode, multisector I/O, look-ahead functionality and other goodies for modern, fast hard drives. Enable those settings, and you will find that Red Hat 9 is quite speedy indeed."
Linux Journal November 2003; Letters, Page 6 from J. Mark Brooks