Stable version 5.0.0 of RPM,
the rpm package manager, formerly known as the Red Hat package manager,
has been announced. RPM5
is a fork of RPM; it should not be confused with the version used by Red
Hat, Fedora, SUSE, and others, which can still be found at rpm.org.
The project description states:
RPM is a powerful and mature command-line driven package management system
capable of installing, uninstalling, verifying, querying, and updating Unix
software packages. Each software package consists of an archive of files
along with information about the package like its version, a description,
and the like. There is also a library API, permitting advanced developers
to manage such transactions from programming languages such as C, Perl or
Traditionally, RPM is a core component of many Linux distributions, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora, Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise, openSUSE, CentOS, Mandriva Linux, and many others. But RPM is also used for software packaging on many other Unix operating systems like FreeBSD, Sun OpenSolaris, IBM AIX and Apple Mac OS X through the cross-platform Unix software distribution OpenPKG. Additionally, the RPM archive format is an official part of the Linux Standard Base (LSB).
The RPM5 developers certainly have a high opinion of what this release
The relaunch of the
RPM project in spring 2007 and today's following availability of RPM 5
marks a major milestone for the previously rather Linux-centric RPM. RPM
now finally evolved into a fully cross-platform and reusable software
RPM Version 5.0.0 differs in numerous ways from other versions.
As noted above, the project aims to be cross-platform.
Much of the code is said to have been cleaned up and numerous bugs have been fixed.
The RPM build process has been completely rewritten to improve portability.
The code base has been ported to all of the major UNIX-based platforms
and Windows. All of the most widely used open-source and proprietary
compilers are now supported. Supported compression formats now include
bzip, bzip2 and LZMA. Initial support has been added for XAR, the XML
Archive file format, while support for the old RPMv3 format has been
removed. New package specification features have been added
and RPM 5 can now automatically track vendor distribution files.
In the last several years, the RPM project has been plagued by a bit of
controversy. The issues mainly centered around maintenance of the
code and which version was used by Red Hat.
In August, 2006, LWN asked
Who maintains RPM?
More recently, Ralf S. Engelschall from the OpenPKG distribution has posted a
blog entry that discusses the project's history and considers which
version is "official". Lastly, the initial RPM 5.0.0 announcement
on LWN produced some lively
discussion of RPM issues.
The much-trumpeted release of RPM5 seems unlikely to put an end to this
controversy, to say the least. RPM5 would appear to have a certain amount
of development energy and momentum, but it is not used by any major
distributions and it is not at all clear that this will change; in
particular, Red Hat and Fedora seem highly unlikely to drop their version
of RPM for RPM5. So this fork - and the bad feelings that go along with it
- will probably persist indefinitely. That's not what anybody would wish
for a crucial (and normally relatively boring) system tool like rpm.
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