Linux Admin – Package Management

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Package management in CentOS can be performed in two ways: from the terminal and from the Graphical User Interface.

More often than not a majority of a CentOS administrator’s time will be using the terminal. Updating and installing packages for CentOS is no different. With this in mind, we will first explore package management in the terminal, then touch on using the graphical package management tool provided by CentOS.

YUM Package Manager

YUM is the tool provided for package management in CentOS. We have briefly touched this topic in previous chapters. In this chapter, we will be working from a clean CentOS install. We will first completely update our installation and then install an application.

YUM has brought software installation and management in Linux a long way. YUM “automagically” checks for out-of-date dependencies, in addition to out-of-date packages. This has really taken a load off the CentOS administrator compared to the old days of compiling every application from source-code.

yum check-update

Checks for packages that can update candidates. For this tutorial, we will assume this a production system that will be facing the Internet with no production applications that needs to be tested by DevOps before upgrading the packages. Let us now install the updated candidates onto the system.

[root@localhost rdc]# yum check-update
Loaded plugins: fastestmirror, langpacks
Loading mirror speeds from cached hostfile
 * base:
 * extras:
 * updates:
NetworkManager.x86_64                     1:1.4.0-19.el7_3              updates
NetworkManager-adsl.x86_64                1:1.4.0-19.el7_3              updates 
NetworkManager-glib.x86_64                1:1.4.0-19.el7_3              updates 
NetworkManager-libnm.x86_64               1:1.4.0-19.el7_3              updates 
NetworkManager-team.x86_64                1:1.4.0-19.el7_3              updates 
NetworkManager-tui.x86_64                 1:1.4.0-19.el7_3              updates 
NetworkManager-wifi.x86_64                1:1.4.0-19.el7_3              updates 
audit.x86_64                              2.6.5-3.el7_3.1               updates    
vim-common.x86_64                         2:7.4.160-1.el7_3.1           updates 
vim-enhanced.x86_64                       2:7.4.160-1.el7_3.1           updates 
vim-filesystem.x86_64                     2:7.4.160-1.el7_3.1           updates 
vim-minimal.x86_64                        2:7.4.160-1.el7_3.1           updates 
wpa_supplicant.x86_64                     1:2.0-21.el7_3                updates 
xfsprogs.x86_64                           4.5.0-9.el7_3                 updates

[root@localhost rdc]#

yum update

This will install all updated candidates making your CentOS installation current. With a new installation, this can take a little time depending on your installation and your internet connection speed.

[root@localhost rdc]# yum update

vim-minimal                        x86_64    2:7.4.160-1.el7_3.1     updates    436 k 
wpa_supplicant                     x86_64    1:2.0-21.el7_3          updates    788 k 
xfsprogs                           x86_64    4.5.0-9.el7_3           updates    895 k  

Transaction Summary 
Install    2 Packages 
Upgrade  156 Packages  
Total download size: 371 M

Is this ok [y/d/N]:

Install Software via YUM

Besides updating the CentOS system, the YUM package manager is our go-to tool for installing the software. Everything from network monitoring tools, video players, to text editors can be installed from a central repository with YUM.

Before installing some software utilities, let’s look at few YUM commands. For daily work, 90% of a CentOS Admin’s usage of YUM will be with about 7 commands. We will go over each in the hope of becoming familiar with operating YUM at a proficient level for daily use. However, like most Linux utilities, YUM offers a wealth of advanced features that are always great to explore via the man page. Use man yum will always be the first step to performing unfamiliar operations with any Linux utility.

Most Common YUM Commands

Following are the commonly used YUM commands.

list installedLists packages installed via YUM
list allLists all currently available packages
group listLists grouped packages
infoProvides detailed information about a package
searchSearches package descriptions and names
installInstalls a package
localinstallInstalls a local rpm package
removeRemoves and installs package
clean allCleans /var/cache/yum to free disk-space
man yumLike all linux commands, the help file

Install Software with YUM

We will now install a text-based web browser called Lynx. Before installation, we must first get the package name containing the Lynx web browser. We are not even 100% sure our default CentOS repository provides a package for the Lynx web browser, so let’s search and see −

[root@localhost rdc]# yum search web browser
Loaded plugins: fastestmirror, langpacks
Loading mirror speeds from cached hostfile
 * base:
 * extras: 
 * updates: 
N/S matched: web, browser
icedtea-web.x86_64 : Additional Java components for OpenJDK - Java browser
plug-in and Web Start implementation
elinks.x86_64 : A text-mode Web browser
firefox.i686 : Mozilla Firefox Web browser
firefox.x86_64 : Mozilla Firefox Web browser
lynx.x86_64 : A text-based Web browser

Full name and summary matches only, use "search all" for everything.
[root@localhost rdc]#

We see, CentOS does offer the Lynx web browser in the repository. Let’s see some more information about the package.

[root@localhost rdc]# lynx.x86_64
bash: lynx.x86_64: command not found...
[root@localhost rdc]# yum info lynx.x86_64
Loaded plugins: fastestmirror, langpacks
Loading mirror speeds from cached hostfile
 * base:
 * extras:
 * updates:
Available Packages
Name        : lynx
Arch        : x86_64
Version     : 2.8.8
Release     : 0.3.dev15.el7
Size        : 1.4 M
Repo        : base/7/x86_64
Summary     : A text-based Web browser
URL         :
License     : GPLv2
Description : Lynx is a text-based Web browser. Lynx does not display any images, 
            : but it does support frames, tables, and most other HTML tags. One 
            : advantage Lynx has over graphical browsers is speed; Lynx starts and
            : exits quickly and swiftly displays web pages.
[root@localhost rdc]#

Nice! Version 2.8 is current enough so let’s install Lynx.

[root@localhost rdc]# yum install lynx
Loaded plugins: fastestmirror, langpacks
Loading mirror speeds from cached hostfile
 * base:
 * extras:
 * updates: 
Resolving Dependencies
--> Running transaction check 
---> Package lynx.x86_64 0:2.8.8-0.3.dev15.el7 will be installed 
--> Finished Dependency Resolution  
Dependencies Resolved  
Package                          Arch
Version                       Repository                    Size 
 lynx                           x86_64              base                        1.4 M

Transaction Summary
Install  1 Package

Total download size: 1.4 M 
Installed size: 5.4 M 
Is this ok [y/d/N]: y 
Downloading packages: 
No Presto metadata available for base
| 1.4 MB  00:00:10      
Running transaction check 
Running transaction test 
Transaction test succeeded 
Running transaction 
   Installing : lynx-2.8.8-0.3.dev15.el7.x86_64
   Verifying  : lynx-2.8.8-0.3.dev15.el7.x86_64

   lynx.x86_64 0:2.8.8-0.3.dev15.el7

[root@localhost rdc]#  

Next, let’s make sure Lynx did in fact install correctly.

[root@localhost rdc]# yum list installed | grep -i lynx

lynx.x86_64                   2.8.8-0.3.dev15.el7              @base     
[root@localhost rdc]#

Great! Let’s use Lynx to and see what the web looks like without “likes” and pretty pictures.

Great, now we have a web browser for our production server that can be used without much worry into remote exploits launched over the web. This a good thing for production servers.

We are almost completed, however first we need to set this server for developers to test applications. Thus, let’s make sure they have all the tools needed for their job. We could install everything individually, but CentOS and YUM have made this a lot faster. Let’s install the Development Group Package.

[root@localhost rdc]# yum groups list 
Loaded plugins: fastestmirror, langpacks 
Loading mirror speeds from cached hostfile 
 * base: 
 * extras: 
 * updates:
Available Groups: 
   Compatibility Libraries 
   Console Internet Tools 
   Development Tools 
   Graphical Administration Tools
   Legacy UNIX Compatibility 
   Scientific Support 
   Security Tools 
   Smart Card Support 
   System Administration Tools 
   System Management 

[root@localhost rdc]#

This is a smaller list of Package Groups provided by CentOS. Let’s see what is included with the “Development Group”.

[root@localhost rdc]# yum group info "Development Tools" 
Loaded plugins: fastestmirror, langpacks 
There is no installed groups file. 
Maybe run: yum groups mark convert (see man yum) 
Loading mirror speeds from cached hostfile 
 * base: 
 * extras: 
 * updates:
Group: Development Tools 
Group-Id: development 
Description: A basic development environment. 
Mandatory Packages: 

The first screen of output is as seen above. This entire list is rather comprehensive. However, this group will usually be needed to be installed in its entirety as time goes by. Let’s install the entire Development Group.

[root@localhost rdc]# yum groupinstall "Development Tools"

This will be a larger install. When completed, your server will have most development libraries and compilers for Perl, Python, C, and C++.

Graphical Package Management in CentOS

Gnome Desktop provides a graphical package management tool called Software. It is fairly simple to use and straightforward. Software, the Gnome package management tool for CentOS can be found by navigating to: Applications → System Tools → Software.

The Software Package Management Tool is divided into groups allowing the administrator to select packages for installation. While this tool is great for ease-of-use and simplicity for end-users, YUM is a lot more powerful and will probably be used more by administrators.

Following is a screenshot of the Software Package Management Tool, not really designed for System Administrators.

Software Package Management Tool

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