3.3. RPM—the Package Manager

In SUSE Linux, RPM (RPM Package Manager) is used for managing the software packages. Its main programs are rpm and rpmbuild. The powerful RPM database can be queried by the users, system administrators, and package builders for detailed information about the installed software.

Essentially, rpm has five modes: installing, uninstalling, or updating software packages; rebuilding the RPM database; querying RPM bases or individual RPM archives; integrity checking of packages; and signing packages. rpmbuild can be used to build installable packages from pristine sources.

Installable RPM archives are packed in a special binary format. These archives consist of the program files to install and certain meta information used during the installation by rpm to configure the software package or stored in the RPM database for documentation purposes. RPM archives normally have the extension .rpm.

[Tip]Software Development Packages

For a number of packages, the components needed for software development (libraries, headers, include files, etc.) have been put into separate packages. These development packages are only needed if you want to compile software yourself, for example, the most recent GNOME packages. They can be identified by the name extension -devel, such as the packages alsa-devel, gimp-devel, and kdelibs3-devel.

3.3.1. Verifying Package Authenticity

SUSE Linux RPM packages have a GnuPG signature. The key including the fingerprint is:


1024D/9C800ACA 2000-10-19 SuSE Package Signing Key <build@suse.de>
Key fingerprint = 79C1 79B2 E1C8 20C1 890F  9994 A84E DAE8 9C80 0ACA

The command rpm --checksig package-1.2.3.rpm can be used to verify the signature of an RPM package to determine whether it really originates from SUSE Linux or from another trustworthy facility. This is especially recommended for update packages from the Internet. The SUSE Linux public package signature key normally resides in /root/.gnupg/. The key is additionally located in the directory /usr/lib/rpm/gnupg/ to enable normal users to verify the signature of RPM packages.

3.3.2. Managing Packages: Install, Update, and Uninstall

Normally, the installation of an RPM archive is quite simple: rpm -i package.rpm. With this command, the package is installed, but only if its dependencies are fulfilled and there are no conflicts with other packages. With an error message, rpm requests those packages that need to be installed to meet dependency requirements. In the background, the RPM database ensures that no conflicts arise—a specific file can only belong to one package. By choosing different options, you can force rpm to ignore these defaults, but this is only for experts. Otherwise, risk compromising the integrity of the system and possibly jeopardize the ability to update the system.

The options -U or --upgrade and -F or --freshen can be used to update a package, for example, rpm -F package.rpm. This command removes the files of the old version and immediately installs the new files. The difference between the two versions is that -U installs packages that previously did not exist in the system, but -F merely updates previously installed packages. When updating, rpm updates configuration files carefully using the following strategy:

  • If a configuration file was not changed by the system administrator, rpm installs the new version of the appropriate file. No action by the system administrator is required.

  • If a configuration file was changed by the system administrator before the update, rpm saves the changed file with the extension .rpmorig or .rpmsave (backup file) and installs the version from the new package, but only if the originally installed file and the newer version are different. If this is the case, compare the backup file (.rpmorig or .rpmsave) with the newly installed file and make your changes again in the new file. Afterwards, be sure to delete all .rpmorig and .rpmsave files to avoid problems with future updates.

  • .rpmnew files appear if the configuration file already exists and if the noreplace label was specified in the .spec file.

Following an update, .rpmsave and .rpmnew files should be removed after comparing them, so they do not obstruct future updates. The .rpmorig extension is assigned if the file has not previously been recognized by the RPM database.

Otherwise, .rpmsave is used. In other words, .rpmorig results from updating from a foreign format to RPM. .rpmsave results from updating from an older RPM to a newer RPM. .rpmnew does not disclose any information as to whether the system administrator has made any changes to the configuration file. A list of these files is available in /var/adm/rpmconfigcheck. Some configuration files (like /etc/httpd/httpd.conf) are not overwritten to allow continued operation.

The -U switch is not just an equivalent to uninstalling with the -e option and installing with the -i option. Use -U whenever possible.

To remove a package, enter rpm -e package. rpm only deletes the package if there are no unresolved dependencies. It is theoretically impossible to delete Tcl/Tk, for example, as long as another application requires it. Even in this case, RPM calls for assistance from the database. If such a deletion is—for whatever reason and under unusual circumstances—impossible, even if no additional dependencies exist, it may be helpful to rebuild the RPM database using the option --rebuilddb.

3.3.3. RPM and Patches

To guarantee the operational security of a system, update packages must be installed in the system from time to time. Previously, a bug in a package could only be eliminated by replacing the entire package. Large packages with bugs in small files could easily result in large amounts of data. However the SUSE RPM offers a feature enabling the installation of patches in packages.

The most important considerations are demonstrated using pine as an example:

Is the patch RPM suitable for my system?

To check this, first query the installed version of the package. For pine, this can be done with

rpm -q pine
pine-4.44-188

Then check if the patch RPM is suitable for this version of pine:

rpm -qp --basedon pine-4.44-224.i586.patch.rpm 
pine = 4.44-188
pine = 4.44-195
pine = 4.44-207

This patch is suitable for three different versions of pine. The installed version in the example is also listed, so the patch can be installed.

Which files are replaced by the patch?

The files affected by a patch can easily be seen in the patch RPM. The rpm parameter -P allows selection of special patch features. Display the list of files with the following command:

rpm -qpPl pine-4.44-224.i586.patch.rpm
/etc/pine.conf
/etc/pine.conf.fixed
/usr/bin/pine

or, if the patch is already installed, with the following command:

rpm -qPl pine
/etc/pine.conf
/etc/pine.conf.fixed
/usr/bin/pine
How can a patch RPM be installed in the system?

Patch RPMs are used just like normal RPMs. The only difference is that a suitable RPM must already be installed.

Which patches are already installed in the system and for which package versions?

A list of all patches installed in the system can be displayed with the command rpm -qPa. If only one patch is installed in a new system (as in this example), the list appears as follows:

rpm -qPa
pine-4.44-224

If, at a later date, you want to know which package version was originally installed, this information is also available in the RPM database. For pine, this information can be displayed with the following command:

rpm -q --basedon pine
pine = 4.44-188

More information, including information about the patch feature of RPM, is available in the man pages of rpm and rpmbuild.

3.3.4. Delta RPM Packages

Delta RPM packages contain the difference between an old and a new version of an RPM package. Applying a delta RPM on an old RPM results in the complete new RPM. It is not necessary to have a copy of the old RPM, because a delta RPM can also work with an installed RPM. The delta RPM packages are even smaller in size than patch RPMs, which is an advantage when transferring update packages over the Internet. The drawback is that update operations with delta RPMs involved consume considerably more CPU cycles than plain or patch RPMs. To make YaST use delta RPM packages during YOU sessions, set YOU_USE_DELTAS to yes in /etc/sysconfig/onlineupdate. In this case, be prepared to have your installation media available. If YOU_USE_DELTAS is empty or set to filesystem, YOU tries to download delta packages that apply to installed files. You do not need the installation media in this case but the download time could be longer. If set to no, YOU only uses patch RPMs and normal RPMs.

The prepdeltarpm, writedeltarpm, and applydeltarpm binaries are part of the delta RPM suite (package deltarpm) and help you create and apply delta RPM packages. With the following commands, create a delta RPM called new.delta.rpm. The following command assumes that old.rpm and new.rpm are present:

prepdeltarpm -s seq -i info old.rpm > old.cpio
prepdeltarpm -f new.rpm > new.cpio

xdelta delta -0 old.cpio new.cpio delta

writedeltarpm new.rpm delta info new.delta.rpm
rm old.cpio new.cpio delta

Using applydeltarpm, you can reconstruct the new RPM from the file system if the old package is already installed:

applydeltarpm new.delta.rpm new.rpm

To derive it from the old RPM without accessing the file system, use the -r option:

applydeltarpm -r old.rpm new.delta.rpm new.rpm
  

See /usr/share/doc/packages/deltarpm/README" for technical details.

3.3.5. RPM Queries

With the -q option, rpm initiates queries, making it possible to inspect an RPM archive (by adding the option -p) and also to query the RPM database of installed packages. Several switches are available to specify the type of information required. See Table 3.6, “The Most Important RPM Query Options”.

Table 3.6. The Most Important RPM Query Options

-i

Package information

-l

File list

-f FILE

Query the package that contains the file FILE (the full path must be specified with FILE)

-s

File list with status information (implies -l)

-d

List only documentation files (implies -l)

-c

List only configuration files (implies -l)

--dump

File list with complete details (to be used with -l, -c, or -d)

--provides

List features of the package that another package can request with --requires

--requires, -R

Capabilities the package requires

--scripts

Installation scripts (preinstall, postinstall, uninstall)

For example, the command rpm -q -i wget displays the information shown in Example 3.2, “rpm -q -i wget”.

Example 3.2. rpm -q -i wget


Name        : wget                         Relocations: (not relocatable)
Version     : 1.9.1                             Vendor: SUSE LINUX AG, Nuernberg, Germany
Release     : 50                            Build Date: Sat 02 Oct 2004 03:49:13 AM CEST
Install date: Mon 11 Oct 2004 10:24:56 AM CEST      Build Host: f53.suse.de
Group       : Productivity/Networking/Web/Utilities   Source RPM: wget-1.9.1-50.src.rpm
Size        : 1637514                          License: GPL
Signature   : DSA/SHA1, Sat 02 Oct 2004 03:59:56 AM CEST, Key ID a84edae89c800aca
Packager    : http://www.suse.de/feedback
URL         : http://wget.sunsite.dk/
Summary     : A tool for mirroring FTP and HTTP servers
Description :
Wget enables you to retrieve WWW documents or FTP files from a server.
This can be done in script files or via the command line.
[...]

The option -f only works if you specify the complete filename with its full path. Provide as many filenames as desired. For example, the following command

rpm -q -f /bin/rpm /usr/bin/wget

results in:

rpm-4.1.1-191
wget-1.9.1-50

If only part of the filename is known, use a shell script as shown in Example 3.3, “Script to Search for Packages”. Pass the partial filename to the script shown as a parameter when running it.

Example 3.3. Script to Search for Packages

#! /bin/sh
for i in $(rpm -q -a -l | grep  $1); do
    echo "\"$i\" is in package:"
    rpm -q -f $i
    echo ""
done

The command rpm -q --changelog rpm displays a detailed list of change information about a specific package, sorted by date. This example shows information about the package rpm.

With the help of the installed RPM database, verification checks can be made. Initiate these with -V, -y, or --verify. With this option, rpm shows all files in a package that have been changed since installation. rpm uses eight character symbols to give some hints about the following changes:

Table 3.7. RPM Verify Options

5

MD5 check sum

S

File size

L

Symbolic link

T

Modification time

D

Major and minor device numbers

U

Owner

G

Group

M

Mode (permissions and file type)

In the case of configuration files, the letter c is printed. For example, for changes to /etc/wgetrc (wget):

rpm -V wget
S.5....T c /etc/wgetrc

The files of the RPM database are placed in /var/lib/rpm. If the partition /usr has a size of 1 GB, this database can occupy nearly 30 MB, especially after a complete update. If the database is much larger than expected, it is useful to rebuild the database with the option --rebuilddb. Before doing this, make a backup of the old database. The cron script cron.daily makes daily copies of the database (packed with gzip) and stores them in /var/adm/backup/rpmdb. The number of copies is controlled by the variable MAX_RPMDB_BACKUPS (default: 5) in /etc/sysconfig/backup. The size of a single backup is approximately 1 MB for 1 GB in /usr.

3.3.6. Installing and Compiling Source Packages

All source packages of SUSE Linux carry a .src.rpm extension (source RPM).

[Tip]Tip

Source packages can be copied from the installation medium to the hard disk and unpacked with YaST. They are not, however, marked as installed ([i]) in the package manager. This is because the source packages are not entered in the RPM database. Only installed operating system software is listed in the RPM database. When you “install” a source package, only the source code is added to the system.

The following directories must be available for rpm and rpmbuild in /usr/src/packages (unless you specified custom settings in a file like /etc/rpmrc):

SOURCES

for the original sources (.tar.bz2 or .tar.gz files, etc.) and for distribution-specific adjustments (mostly .diff or .patch files)

SPECS

for the .spec files, similar to a meta Makefile, which control the build process

BUILD

all the sources are unpacked, patched, and compiled in this directory

RPMS

where the completed binary packages are stored

SRPMS

here are the source RPMs

When you install a source package with YaST, all the necessary components are installed in /usr/src/packages: the sources and the adjustments in SOURCES and the relevant .spec file in SPECS.

[Warning]Warning

Do not experiment with system components (glibc, rpm, sysvinit, etc.), because this endangers the operability of your system.

The following example uses the wget.src.rpm package. After installing the package with YaST, you should have files similar to the following listing:

/usr/src/packages/SOURCES/nops_doc.diff
/usr/src/packages/SOURCES/toplev_destdir.diff
/usr/src/packages/SOURCES/wget-1.9.1+ipvmisc.patch
/usr/src/packages/SOURCES/wget-1.9.1-brokentime.patch
/usr/src/packages/SOURCES/wget-1.9.1-passive_ftp.diff
/usr/src/packages/SOURCES/wget-LFS-20040909.tar.bz2
/usr/src/packages/SOURCES/wget-wrong_charset.patch
/usr/src/packages/SPECS/wget.spec

rpmbuild -b X /usr/src/packages/SPECS/wget.spec starts the compilation. X is a wild card for various stages of the build process (see the output of --help or the RPM documentation for details). The following is merely a brief explanation:

-bp

Prepare sources in /usr/src/packages/BUILD: unpack and patch.

-bc

Do the same as -bp, but with additional compilation.

-bi

Do the same as -bp, but with additional installation of the built software. Caution: if the package does not support the BuildRoot feature, you might overwrite configuration files.

-bb

Do the same as -bi, but with the additional creation of the binary package. If the compile was successful, the binary should be in /usr/src/packages/RPMS.

-ba

Do the same as -bb, but with the additional creation of the source RPM. If the compilation was successful, the binary should be in /usr/src/packages/SRPMS.

--short-circuit

Skip some steps.

The binary RPM created can now be installed with rpm -i or, preferably, with rpm -U. Installation with rpm makes it appear in the RPM database.

3.3.7. Compiling RPM Packages with build

The danger with many packages is that unwanted files are added to the running system during the build process. To prevent this, use build, which creates a defined environment in which the package is built. To establish this chroot environment, the build script must be provided with a complete package tree. This tree can be made available on the hard disk, via NFS, or from DVD. Set the position with build --rpms directory. Unlike rpm, the build command looks for the SPEC file in the source directory. To build wget (like in the above example) with the DVD mounted in the system under /media/dvd, use the following commands as root:

cd /usr/src/packages/SOURCES/
mv ../SPECS/wget.spec .
build --rpms /media/dvd/suse/ wget.spec

Subsequently, a minimum environment is established at /var/tmp/build-root. The package is built in this environment. Upon completion, the resulting packages are located in /var/tmp/build-root/usr/src/packages/RPMS.

The build script offers a number of additional options. For example, cause the script to prefer your own RPMs, omit the initialization of the build environment, or limit the rpm command to one of the above-mentioned stages. Access additional information with build --help and by reading the build man page.

3.3.8. Tools for RPM Archives and the RPM Database

Midnight Commander (mc) can display the contents of RPM archives and copy parts of them. It represents archives as virtual file systems, offering all usual menu options of Midnight Commander. Display the HEADER with F3. View the archive structure with the cursor keys and Enter. Copy archive components with F5.

KDE offers the kpackage tool as a front-end for rpm. A full-featured package manager is available as a YaST module (see Section 2.3.1, “Installing and Removing Software” (↑Start-Up)).