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Quick Take: Installing Missing Packages with Zypper

June 14, 2009

OpenSuse 11.1 has added a nice touch for minimal installs: repository index to commands NOT installed. In a most client installations, we installed only minimal OS footprints to reduce size and  attack surface. In the past, this has meant a trip to YAST to install “needed” packages that were not installed initially. While this is no big deal for OpenSuse vets, it can be a bit of a learning curve for clients.

Enter the repository index. Now, when a “missing” executable is attempted, the index is searched for the package containing the executable and guidance is offered on how to install it (assuming repositories are setup correctly.) Here’s a sample of how this works on a low attack surface DNS server missing a “whois” utility:

nsarpa:~ # whois supermicro.com

The program 'whois' can be found in the following package:
 * whois [ path: /usr/bin/whois, repository: zypp (openSUSE 11.1-0) ]

Try installing with: sudo zypper install whois

-bash: whois: command not found
nsarpa:~ # zypper install whois
Retrieving repository 'openSUSE-11.1-Update' metadata [done]
Building repository 'openSUSE-11.1-Update' cache [done]
Loading repository data...
Reading installed packages...
Resolving package dependencies...

The following NEW package is going to be installed:
 whois

Overall download size: 51.0 K. After the operation, additional 152.0 K will be used.
Continue? [YES/no]: YES
Retrieving package whois-4.7.28-1.23.i586 (1/1), 51.0 K (152.0 K unpacked)
Retrieving: whois-4.7.28-1.23.i586.rpm [done]
Installing: whois-4.7.28-1.23 [done]

nsarpa:~ # whereis whois
whois: /usr/bin/whois /usr/share/man/man1/whois.1.gz

At this point the package containing the whois executable is installed and ready to return results. What was a somewhat cumbersome administrative process is now a relatively effortless one-step update.

SOLORI’s take: Ubuntu systems have had this ease of administration for some time; it’s about time OpenSuse started keeping pace to stay relevant for a change. OpenSuse – with its Microsoft alliance – is an excellent choice for Microsoft shops needing an Open Source operating system companion. This small but helpful update adds to OpenSuse’s already superb value.

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