Most Red Hat Linux software comes in Red Hat Package Manager (RPM) files, and many open-source software packages are provided in source-code form (usually in compressed archives). Therefore, you need to know how to work with RPM files and how to build software from source code. In addition, from time to time, you may have to get some updates or bug fixes and rebuild the Linux kernel. This chapter showed you how to install RPM files, download source code and build programs, and use the Red Hat Update Agent to update Red Hat Linux packages. Also, you learned how to build and install a new kernel. Moreover, this chapter showed you how to download and install new updates from Red Hat in the form of Red Hat Package Manager (RPM) files.

By reading this chapter, you learned the following:

  • Red Hat Package Manager (RPM) is a system for packaging all the necessary files for a software product in a single file. The file is referred to as an RPM file, a package, or simply an RPM. Red Hat Linux is distributed in the form of a lot of RPMs.

  • You can use the rpm commands or the Red Hat Package Management graphical tool to work with RPM files. You learn to use the Package Management graphical utility with which you can install and uninstall entire package groups-collections of many related RPM files. In addition, you learn the syntax of a number of RPM commands used to query, install, upgrade, remove, and verify RPMs.

  • To download and install open-source software distributed in source-code form, use FTP to download and tar to unpack; then read the README file for installation instructions. Typically, you have to run a configure script to create a Makefile and to run the make command to build the software. Using the X Multimedia System (XMMS) package as an example, this chapter shows you how to build the software and install it.

  • You can register with the Red Hat Network and use the Red Hat Update Agent to download and install any updates to various packages that make up Red Hat Linux. This chapter shows you how to register and use the Red Hat Update Agent.

  • The term kernel refers to the core Linux operating system-the program that makes your PC a Linux PC.

  • You can upgrade to a new version of the Linux kernel for Red Hat Linux from one of the mirror sites listed at html. The updates are organized in directories according to Red Hat Linux version numbers. For example, any updates for Red Hat Linux 9 for Intel x86 systems appear in the 9/en/os/i386 directory.

  • You can rebuild the Linux kernel to add support for experimental devices or build a kernel customized to include support for only devices that your PC has.

  • Before rebuilding the kernel, you should prepare an emergency boot disk so that you can restart the system if something goes wrong with the kernel rebuild process.

  • To rebuild the kernel, change the directory to /usr/src/linux-2.4 and use the make command. You have to follow the sequence make config; make dep; make clean; make zImage (in that order). If you get a 'System too big' error, you should try the make bzImage command. You have also to use the commands make modules and make modules_install.

  • To make a new kernel available for booting, you have to copy the new kernel file to the /boot directory and edit the GRUB configuration file /etc/grub.conf so that it includes information about the new kernel file.