The Red Hat Network and yum

What is the Red Hat Network?

The Red Hat Network isn’t Red Hat’s intranet. It’s like Windows Update: a way to keep your system patched.

If you are using a Red Hat Enterprise release, you’ll want to run updates periodically to ensure your system’s safety.

If you are using Fedora, you’re using a “bleeding edge” release that will be getting frequent updates. Consider updating once a week.
Setting up Red Hat Network
In the GUI desktop, select:
Main > System Settings > Red Hat Network Configuration

You’ll enter a configuration tool that lets you select a server on the first tab.
Retrieval, verification and installation options are on the second.
The third tab, Package Exceptions, lets you exclude packages you don’t want to install or update.

Running Red Hat Update

The setup tool doesn’t actually give you a way to start updates.
For that, you have two methods.

  • At the command line, type up2date, or
  • Use the GUI tool at Main > System Tools > Red Hat Network, which presents you with a wizard interface.

What really happens then
If you’re working in a shell environment, up2date will present you with a text-based interface and options.

If you call up2date from the GUI, you’ll get a GUI tool.

But behind it all is up2date.


Assignment: Configuring up2date

up2date has its configuration file in /etc/sysconfig/rhn/sources.

Needless to say (I say it anyway): back up this file before changing it!

Now, comment out (by placing a # at the beginning of the lines) the lines beginning:
yum fedora-core-4 …
yum fedora-core-4-updates …
Alternate mirrors for up2date
Now replace these lines with:

yum fedora-core-4
yum fedora-core-4-updates


How up2date will act

Once it’s configured and running, Red Hat Network will manifest as an icon in your system tray, either a checkmark (you’re up to date) or a glowing red dot (new updates have been added to the Fedora mirror).


What is yum?

The name “yum” is (like many Unix names) a pseudo-acronym, in this case for the Yellow Dog Updater Modified tool.

Note that Yellow Dog is another distribution of Linux, and in fact is intended for installing Linux on Mac hardware!

Like all open-source projects, yum was returned to the community, and is now used by several other distibutions.


Assignment: Configuring yum

Your yum configuration file is:


The very first thing you should do is back this file up:

cp  /etc/yum.conf  /etc/yum.conf.bak


The default yum.conf file


name=Fedora Core $releasever – $basearch – Base

name=Fedora Core $releasever – $basearch – Released Updates


Why not to use the default config?


  • Everyone and their brother is using these download sites.
  • It’s slow and unreliable as a consequence
  • During peak hours, the server is likely to time out your connection.


Better update locations

Where should you get updates instead?
One very good choice is the mirrors at it’s got lots of very fast connections, it’s one of the first sites to get updated with changes, and it carries a larger range of releases (such as the AMD64 versions of Linux).
There are also third-party repositories with software from outside the Fedora project that can be used with Fedora, such as DAG and


Setting Up yum Configuration Files

In older Fedora Core distros, all the yum configuration information was stored in a single file: yum.conf. If you’re using an older Fedora, you will make all these edits directly into this file.

In Fedora Core 4, this configuration has been moved to the directory /etc/yum.conf.d . Each repository (marked by a name in square brackets) will go into a separate file in /etc/yum.conf.d/ , with an appropriate file name, such as dag.repo or freshrpms.repo.
For example, the file fedora.repo looks like this:

name=Fedora Core $releasever – $basearch – Base
More mods to yum.conf
You could consider modifying the [updates-released] section (or the fedora-updates.repo file) to:

name=Fedora Core Mirror $releasever – $basearch – Released Updates

Visit and consider how yum is using what you see.


Plus an addition

Now add a new section to yum.conf, or create a new yum configuration file called dag.repo:

name=DAG RPM Repository for Fedora Core


About these changes

Take note that in yum.conf or in *.repo files:

  • The section heading can be called anything, as long as you enclose it in brackets: [dag].
  • The name heading can be nearly anything you want to call it.
  • The baseurl line is critical, and must point to a real repository.


Other repositories

Many third-party mirrors of also provide access to wide ranges of software outside the Fedora distribution. See the HOWTO document at

Also visit


Updating with yum

You can begin the update process with the command:

yum update

yum then connects with the repositories and downloads the headers for each RPM that needs to be updated. (Header files are essentially descriptions of what each RPM does.)

Then yum prompts you to choose and install updated files.


What next with yum?

Depending on your connection speed, you might want to order a pizza.

yum may update a few or very many packages, including the kernel.

If you endure many updates, reboot at the end.

If yum installs a fresh kernel, reboot to take advantage of it.

So here’s the fun part

Fedora is loaded with features, but there are lots of things it doesn’t have, like MP3 players, rippers and encoders, video players and plugins, and alternate file managers and web browsers.

Let’s try some….


Assignment: Setting up MP3 support in Fedora

Let’s say you want to install a couple of MP3 players to try out. You can install these using:

yum install alsaplayer
yum install zinf

Don’t forget to get an encoder and a disk ripper:

yum install lame
yum install grip


Adding video support

Get a couple of video (MPEG) players:

yum install xine
yum install mplayer

And an MPEG player plugin for Mozilla:

yum install mplayerplug-in


Alternate programs

Add a Norton Utilities-like file manager for KDE:

yum install krusader

And an alternate lightweight web browser:

yum install mozilla-firefox

Now you try it

Install at least two of these, then test them:

yum install alsaplayer
yum install zinf
yum install lame
yum install grip
yum install xine
yum install mplayer
yum install mplayerplug-in
yum install krusader
yum install mozilla-firefox

Helpful yum commands

yum list

List all available packages

yum check-update or yum list updates

See if updated packages are available

yum update

Update all installed packages that have new versions

yum install package [package…]

Install packages and dependencies

yum search word

Search all known package entries for word.

yum info package

Show basic info about a package

Assignment: Install Another Package Manager: APT

Debian’s Advanced Package Tools (APT) is unique in providing good GUI tools for searching for third-party applications.

To install APT (provided yum.conf is configured for DAG or FreshRPMS or

yum install apt
yum install synaptic
yum install kpackage

APT tools

synaptic is an APT GUI for Gnome.

kpackage is an APT GUI for KDE.

The configuration files for APT are in  /etc/apt/.

There may be one file, sources.list, or a whole directory, sources.list.d/, containing a config file for each repository.

Running APT

Update the APT database:

apt-get update

Once the update is current, run


and pick the packages you want to install.

Why would you want APT?

  • APT is distribution-neutral. You can use it in practically any distro, for a uniform set of tools.
  • APT accepts command-line and scripting commands (like rpm but unlike many others).
  • APT lets you easily point to third-party package sites, to get support after vendors drop it, and to get updates without registering.

Dude, you’re gonna get a sourceforge!

Are you familiar with Check it out. Try:

…which is far from the only project they support. Before you pay, look their way.
Choosing the right apt
Go to the download page and look at your options:


  • You can install server packages that let you manage a large number of client updates.
  • You can install the simple client package. This is the one you want.



Find the rpm and install it