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RHCSA: Managing Software Packages with yum and rpm

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The default utility used to manage software packages on Red Hat Enterprise Linux is yum (Yellowdog update manager). Yum is written in Python and  works with repositories, which are online connection of software packages, assessable via HTTP and HTTPS.

All "standard" software on RHEL is provided in the RPM (Red Hat Package Manager) format. This cpio based format which is enhanced to provide package metadata as well.

Repositories can be Red Hat maintenance or local clones. In both cases patching of the servers, which  is the most frequently used operation for production servers is done with yum

The main advantage of yum over older rpm utility is that it resolves package dependencies (it it can; which is not given due to package hell phenomenon  adamant in RHEL). Dependencies typically are connected with libraries as very few executables in RHEL are statically links. Even bash is not statically links which is blunder on the part of Red Hat. This means that to is path to libraries is not available you OS became inoperable. The simplest way to provide in RHEL 7 is to delete symbolic links existing in root directory.

Dependencies are specified within RPM format and are extracted by YUM.  The yum  command then try to find them in the repositories configured on this system. It finds them it fetches the dependencies automatically. If all goes well you will see the list of the dependencies that will be installed. If some dependencies are not found you are in troubles.  For system packages this happens rarely but for custom packages is a real problem.

Red Hat repositories are assessable only for registered instances on RHEL. The amount of repositories available depends on your subscription. Only after registering with RHN, you can install software packages from RHEL repositories. If you are using CentOS, you get access to the CentOS repositories automatically: they are configured during installation and can be used immediately without any registration.

Note that repositories are specific to an version of RHEL. Moreover using CentOS repositories in RHEL installation also creates problems. It is not recommended to  add CentOS repositories to an RHEL server. If you want to provide additional software should add the EPEL (Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux) and Extra repositories. On how to add EPEL repositories see https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/EPEL for more information.

For a system administrator performing software installation and maintenance, the use of package management rather than manual building has advantages such as simplicity, consistency and the ability for these processes to be automated and non-interactive.

Terminology

Understanding rpm Filenames

When working with RPM packages directly, it makes sense to understand how the RPM filename is composed. A typical RPM filename looks like

tree-1.6.0-10.el7.x86_64.rpm 

This name consists of several components:

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The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D


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Last modified: March 30, 2019