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Thierry Vignaud > urpmi > urpmihowto


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urpmihowto - urpmi Advanced How-To

Basic notions ^

Packages and media

The urpmi suite of tools has for main purpose to download and to install RPM packages easily.

Software packages often depend on each other; urpmi is able to recognize those dependencies, to download missing required packages as needed, and to remove conflicting packages if it needs to.

urpmi gets the list of available RPMs, and the RPMs themselves, from a media. Roughly speaking, a media is described by a name and by a location, specified by an URL. Currently supported media types are: local drives, removable drives (such as CDs), ISO images, and networked media via different protocols (http, ftp, ssh and rsync). NFS mounted directories are treated like local drives.

Installing and updating RPMs

The tool used to install RPMs is urpmi. Its basic usage is as follows:

    urpmi <list of package names>

That prompts urpmi to fetch and install all packages and their unmet dependencies from the media you have configured. In the process, urpmi might ask a few questions. Notably, if some packages need to be upgraded, or if some new (unspecified) packages should be installed, it will ask for confirmation. If some packages need to be removed (due to conflicts with the requested packages), urpmi will ask for confirmation as well. In some cases, urpmi will also propose a choice between different alternatives, usually proposing the "best" package as a default.

Another very useful mode of action for urpmi is to ask it to upgrade all packages to the latest version found on the media. This is done by

    urpmi --auto-update

urpmi can also help installing RPM files directly. Instead of using rpm -i foobar.rpm, you can pass the path to the rpm file to urpmi: it will then try to resolve the needed dependencies.

Useful options to urpmi include:


automatic mode: urpmi will not ask questions and always select the default choice.


tests the installation of packages, but do not actually install anything or modify the system.

--media media1,...,mediaN

Use only the specified media, instead of defaulting to all available media. You can also specify a substring of media names, and urpmi will select all media that contain this substring. (For example,

    urpmi --auto-update --media updates

will search updates from all media that have "updates" in their name.)

See the urpmi(8) manpage for the complete reference of all options that urpmi supports.

Removing RPMs

The tool used to deinstall RPMs is urpme. The command

    urpme <list of package names>

will attempt to remove all listed packages, plus the packages that depend on them. It will refuse to uninstall "important" packages (that is, the ones that are part of the base system.)

See the urpme(8) manpage for the reference of all options urpme supports.

urpme will detect packages that are no longer used: for example, libraries that no application requires. To remove them, use urpme --auto-orphans

Media management ^

Adding media

urpmi is usable only when you have defined some media. Usually the OS installation procedure configures a predefined set of media, which correspond to the installation method you've selected: that might be installation CDs, or an HTTP or FTP server if you installed from a networked mirror, and so on. But you might want to add media yourself. For that, you should use the urpmi.addmedia program. Its usage is as follows:

    urpmi.addmedia [options] <name> <url>

In this synopsis, <name> is the name of the new media, <url> the URL where the RPMs are to be found.

Supported URLs can be http://, ftp://, rsync://, ssh:// (this will use rsync over ssh), file://, and cdrom://. If the media requires authentication, you can use the usual URL syntax:


Those credentials won't be stored in any world-readable file.

In some cases, if your media points at an external HTTP or FTP server, you might want to use a proxy to access it. This is possible by using the --proxy and --proxy-user options (the second one in case of your proxy requires authentication.)

Removing media

This is straightforward; to remove a media foo, simply use the command:

    urpmi.removemedia foo

Updating media

Some media never change; this is the case, for example, for CD-ROMs and the like. However, some other ones -- typically updates -- grow; new RPMs are added to them, and old ones are removed. Thus, before using them, from time to time, you should instruct urpmi that their contents might have changed.

To do this, use the urpmi.update program. You can either update all media:

    urpmi.update -a

or update only media specifically named:

    urpmi.update updates-one updates-two

Creating your own media

The easiest way to create your own media is to let urpmi.addmedia do it. However, this will work well only if you have a small number of rpms, stored on disk or on a shared NFS mount. To do that, assuming that your RPMs are under a directory /var/my-rpms, simply enter the command:

    urpmi.addmedia my-media /var/my-rpms

However, to create media containing a large number of RPMs, or to be put on a shared server, you'll need to use the gendistrib tool. It comes in the rpmtools package. It is able to generate a mirror tree for one or several media.

A typical media repository, under a root directory /ROOT/, has the following structure: (here, we have two media, named first and second)

    ROOT/ - media/
            |- first/
            |   `- media_info/
            |- second/
            |   `- media_info/
            `- media_info/

The RPMs are place in the first and second subdirectories. Repository metadata is contained in the top-level media_info directory. Per-media metadata are contained in the first/media_info and second/media_info subdirectories.

Per-media metadata consists in an file, that contains the gzipped headers of the RPMs in the media, a file, much smaller than the hdlist and that contains only the information necessary to urpmi to resolve dependencies, and optionally a pubkey file if the RPMs are signed (so urpmi can check that the RPMs it downloads are signed with the key associated to this media.)

Before using gendistrib, you must create a file media_info/media.cfg to describe this media repository. The syntax of this file is reminiscent of .ini files. It contains one section per media: for example,

    name=First supplementary media

Here, first is the directory name, is the name of the hdlist file that will be created (it must end with .cz), and name= gives a human-readable descriptive name for the media.

Then, you can run gendistrib. It should be passed the /ROOT/ directory as parameter. It will then generate the hdlist and synthesis files and all other files needed for proper repository operation.

For further information, see the gendistrib(1) manpage.

Searching for packages ^


urpmf is a grep-like tool for the urpmi database (the database of all RPMs in the media). By default, it will search through the file names contained in packages, but a variety of options allows to search through package names, provides, requires, RPM descriptions, etc. (or several of those at once.)

For example, to find all packages that begin with "apache-":

    urpmf --name '^apache-'

(the ^ being the beginning-of-line anchor used in standard regular expressions.)

To find all packages that contain files whose pathname includes /etc/httpd.conf.d:

    urpmf /etc/httpd.conf.d

To find all packages that provide "mail-server", with their version and release number (-f):

    urpmf --provides -f mail-server

See the urpmf(8) manpage for more examples and the list of all options.


urpmq is a tool to query the urpmi database. It has several modes of operation. Here are a couple of useful uses.

    urpmq -i package

will list the information for that package (like rpm -qi would do for installed packages.) The --summary option is similar, but gives only one-line concise information.

    urpmq --sources package

will give the URL from which the package can be retrieved.

    urpmq --requires-recursive package

will give the list of all RPMs that are required by the specified package (recursively).

Inversely, the command

    urpmq --whatrequires package

will give the list of all RPMs that require the specified package.

See the urpmq(8) manpage for the list of all options.

urpmi-parallel ^

urpmi-parallel is an add-on to urpmi that is useful to install packages on a network: it will run an urpmi command in parallel on a specified number of hosts. In more detail, the machine you run the command on (the "server") tests its result on each machine in the group in turn (the "clients"), downloads all necessary packages for all machines in the group, distributes the appropriate packages to each machine, then calls urpmi on the machine to do the actual installation.

urpmi must be installed on all client machines, but it is not necessary to have media defined on these.

To use it, follow those steps:

Restricted urpmi ^

urpmi has a "restricted" counterpart: rurpmi. It is similar to urpmi, but has a stripped-down set of features. It's intended to be used by users without root privileges, but with sudo rights on it, preventing any abuse of this tool to compromise the system.

Its syntax is similar to the one of urpmi, but it disallows installing arbitrary RPMs: those are forcibly downloaded from a registered media. A number of dangerous options, listed in the rurpmi(8) manpage, are also forbidden.

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