The Red Hat Package Manager (RPM) provides a standardized way to group the software that you need for various utilities and applications. RPMs make it possible for Red Hat to organize Linux into fewer than 2,000 packages instead of tens of thousands of files.
You ll find that using RPMs to add new programs and applications is an easy process. The RPM is so successful that it has been adapted as the primary package manager by other competitive Linux distributions, including SuSE and SCO (formerly Caldera).
As an administrator, you ll want to install, upgrade, remove, and maintain many different RPM packages. RPMs also include dependency information, which helps you install any prerequisite packages you might need. When Red Hat adds new features or provides more secure software, you may want to upgrade what you have as well.
While the RPMs that you install are in binary format, Red Hat provides the source code for each package. You can use the rpmbuild command to organize and build these packages into the binary files that anyone can install. Alternatively, you can build binary RPMs from the other standard package system, known colloquially as the tarball.
One of the advantages of RPMs is that you can verify the integrity of packages and files. If a file has been modified without your knowledge, the correct rpm command identifies the altered file.
The RPM system is rich with features. This chapter just scratches the surface, providing what I believe are the most important RPM skills to the Linux administrator.
Red Hat also stores the latest RPMs through a system known as Rawhide. Alternatively, you can use up2date to update the RPMs of your choice based on a current database of upgradeable RPMs. This chapter covers the following topics:
Installing and upgrading, simplified
Using source RPMs
Understanding the verify and list process
Introducing a special agent: up2date