words of wisdom from a systems engineer

Locate RPM packages which contain a certain file

It’s not easy remembering which RPM packages contain certain files. If I asked you which files you’d find in packages like postfix-2.7.1-1.fc14 and bash-4.1.7-3.fc14, you would be able to name some obvious executables. However, would you be able to do the same if I mentioned a package like util-linux-ng-2.18-4.6.fc14? If the RPM is already installed, you can quickly use rpm -ql to list the files within it.

However, what if the RPM isn’t installed already? How do you figure out which one to install?

Fedora has well over 20,000 packages in the standard repositories without adding additional repositories like RPM Fusion. Narrowing that list down to find the package you want can be daunting, but you can use yum to help.

Consider this: you’re following a guide online and the author says you need to run deallocvt:

# deallocvt
-bash: deallocvt: command not found

Perhaps it’s in a package with deallocvt in the name:

# yum search deallocvt
Warning: No matches found for: deallocvt
No Matches found

This is where yum’s whatprovides (provides works in recent yum versions) command works really well:

# yum whatprovides */deallocvt
kbd-1.15-11.fc14.x86_64 : Tools for configuring the console
Repo        : fedora
Matched from:
Filename    : /usr/bin/deallocvt

From there, you can install the kbd RPM package via yum and you’ll be on your way.

Author’s note: Regular readers will probably think this is pretty basic, but I often find people who don’t know this functionality exists in yum.

UPDATE: I forgot to include another handy command in this article (thanks to Jason Gill for reminding me). If you have file on your system already, but you need to know which RPM package it came from, you can do this very quickly:

# rpm -qf /usr/bin/free