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RPM Design Goals

All of these early system-management tools took a similar approach. They provided the capability to install an entire application with a single command, to track the files it put on the system, and to remove those files by using another single command. As the preponderance of multiple early tools suggests, this approach to system management was popular. All of these early tools, however, had numerous technical or practical deficiencies. Some tools were designed only for Linux on 32-bit Intel-compatible hardware, even though Linux by this point was already running on other CPUs in addition to the IA32 family. As Linux was spreading to multiple architectures, a package-management system that could produce packages for multiple architectures was needed. Other tools had technical flaws in how they prepared packages, making it difficult to verify that packages had been prepared correctly or to see exactly how the software was prepared.
Because of these concerns, after their initial releases of RPP-based distributions, Red Hat looked closely at both their own RPP software and other software such as BOGUS's pms software. Developers at Red Hat, particularly Marc Ewing and Erik Troan, set out to develop what they initially called the Red Hat Package Manager (RPM). Based on experiences with earlier Linux packaging software and knowledge about packaging tools used on other platforms, Red Hat had several design goals in mind when they developed RPM. These design points include the following features:
The following sections demonstrate how Red Hat incorporated each of these design goals into RPM.

Ease of use

Perhaps the primary design goal for RPM is that it must be easy to use. Manual software installation has been the primary method of putting software onto Unix boxes for over 30 years now and has worked very well for those three decades. To offer a compelling reason to use the new software, RPM must be significantly easier to use than other Linux package-management tools. For that reason, most tasks that can be handled using RPM were designed to be carried out via a single command. For example, software installation using RPM requires a single command (rpm -U software_package), while manual software installation using older manual methods typically requires at least six steps to complete the same task:
  1. tar zxf software_package
  2. cd software_package
  3. ./configure
  4. make
  5. su
  6. make install
Similarly, removal of applications installed using RPM requires a single command (rpm -e software_package); manual removal of an installed application requires that each file associated with that application be manually deleted.