So far in our OpenSuSE series we have covered OpenSuSE (see "Why not try OpenSuSE"), YaST (see "YaST: Yet Another Setup Tool"), and Installing software (see "Installing software in OpenSuSE with YaST"). This time around we are going to take a look at how to install software in OpenSuSE using the command line. I realize that many people out there fear the command line. The command line, however, is a very powerful, useful tool and you should have this resource in your tool kit just in case.
I'm sure you have read plenty of my Linux articles that outline how to install with Ubuntu. That distribution takes advantage of apt-get and dpkg for command line installation. In the OpenSuSE distribution the zypper tool is used for this same task. Believe it or not, zypper is just as easy to use as is the Ubuntu equivalent. And in this article you will see just that.
What is zypper?
The zypper tool is the command line interface to the ZYpp system management library. Zypper can be used to install/update/remove software, manage repositories, perform queries, and more. Using the zypper command does require root privileges, so you will have to first su to the root user before you issue any of the zypper commands.
The basic structure of the zypper command looks like:
zypper GLOBAL_OPTIONS COMMAND COMMAND_OPTIONS
Although it looks a bit complex it's not. Let's take a look at the various tasks you will perform with the zypper command.
Installing software with zypper is simple. The command will look like this:
zypper install SOFTWARE
Where SOFTWARE is the name of the software you want to install.
Say, for example, I want to install Scribus (the desktop publishing application). To do this the command would look like:
zypper install scribus
Now let's say you want to remove a piece of software. The command structure for deleting software looks like:
zypper remove SOFTWARE
Sticking with our example, if you want to remove Scribus from your OpenSuSE machine you would issue the command:
zypper remove scribus
Searching for software
Say you don't know what Scribus is, or you aren't sure if you know the name of the package. You could use zypper to search the cached database for installation candidates like so:
zypper search scribus
The above command would return something like what you see in Figure 1. As you can see, zypper will report back all possible applications for the search string.
Updating with zypper
Updating with zypper is incredibly easy. Issue the command zypper update and if there are any updates available to your system they will be reported and all you need to do is type "y" (no quotes) and then hit Enter to run all of the updates.
Distribution upgrade with zypper
If you want to do a distribution upgrade with zypper you would use the dup command like so:
With that single command you will upgrade your OpenSuSE distribution (if the upgrade is available).
Command line package management in OpenSuSE is about as simple as it gets. If you hesitate to use the command line for this task in OpenSuSE, I hope this article has persuaded you there is nothing to fear. OpenSuSE is an outstanding distribution with a lot to offer and it's package management is on par with just about any other system.
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