10.1. RPM Design Goals

10.1. RPM Design Goals

To understand how to use RPM, it can be helpful to understand the design goals of RPM:

Upgradability

With RPM, you can upgrade individual components of your system without completely reinstalling. When you get a new release of an operating system based on RPM (such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux), you do not need to reinstall on your machine (as you do with operating systems based on other packaging systems). RPM allows intelligent, fully-automated, in-place upgrades of your system. Configuration files in packages are preserved across upgrades, so you do not lose your customizations. There are no special upgrade files needed to upgrade a package because the same RPM file is used to install and upgrade the package on your system.

Powerful Querying

RPM is designed to provide powerful querying options. You can do searches through your entire database for packages or just for certain files. You can also easily find out what package a file belongs to and from where the package came. The files an RPM package contains are in a compressed archive, with a custom binary header containing useful information about the package and its contents, allowing you to query individual packages quickly and easily.

System Verification

Another powerful RPM feature is the ability to verify packages. If you are worried that you deleted an important file for some package, you can verify the package. You are then notified of any anomalies, if any — at which point, you can reinstall the package if necessary. Any configuration files that you modified are preserved during reinstallation.

Pristine Sources

A crucial design goal was to allow the use of pristine software sources, as distributed by the original authors of the software. With RPM, you have the pristine sources along with any patches that were used, plus complete build instructions. This is an important advantage for several reasons. For instance, if a new version of a program is released, you do not necessarily have to start from scratch to get it to compile. You can look at the patch to see what you might need to do. All the compiled-in defaults, and all of the changes that were made to get the software to build properly, are easily visible using this technique.

The goal of keeping sources pristine may seem important only for developers, but it results in higher quality software for end users, too.


Note: This documentation is provided {and copyrighted} by Red Hat®, Inc. and is released via the Open Publication License. The copyright holder has added the further requirement that Distribution of substantively modified versions of this document is prohibited without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. The CentOS project redistributes these original works (in their unmodified form) as a reference for CentOS-5 because CentOS-5 is built from publicly available, open source SRPMS. The documentation is unmodified to be compliant with upstream distribution policy. Neither CentOS-5 nor the CentOS Project are in any way affiliated with or sponsored by Red Hat®, Inc.