When you installed linux, did you have a section where you could pick which apps to install?
Have you used any frontend for rpm, maybe Kpackage or grpmi?
The packs of libraries etc could easily fill 2 cds, do those disks contain rpm files? You shouldnt need the source for most apps, as rpms are usually the pre-compiled binaries for your system and processor architecture. Some rpms are packs of source files, such as the kernel sources.
Oh, and for even more fun, RedHat doesnt come with MP3 support out of the box, you have to download a small plugin. It also uses a broken compiler or library iirc, which makes upgrading or installing from source a real bitch, or so it seems.
Never had those probs with Mandrake. Plus the Galaxy theme smokes Bluecurve