A Quick Guide to DNF Package Manager

A Quick Guide to DNF Package Manager

DNF is the default package management system on most RPM-based Linux distributions now.

DNF downloads packages from repositories installs, uninstall, and updates packages. It performs automatic dependency resolution for packages you are installing, updating, or removing and installs all packages needed to fulfill dependency requirements.

On Fedora, it has been the default package manager since Fedora 22. On RHEL 8.x, it is now the default package manager.

DNF provides secure package management by enabling GPG signature verification on GPG signed packages. DNF will not install any package not signed with the correct key for that repository.

For backward compatibility, RHEL 8.x has a YUM command also, though it is a link to DNF.

Why DNF?

DNF or Dandified YUM is the next generation YUM. Compared to YUM, DNF has better memory utilization, improved dependency management, and the ability to run using both Python 2 & Python 3.

Package Management with DNF

You must have superuser privileges to use the DNF Command to install, update, or remove the package. Following is a set of DNF commands frequently used by sysadmins.

Searching a package

To search for a package installed or available across all repositories, use

$ sudo dnf search package_name

For example to search for package Nmap:

$ sudo dnf search nmap
Last metadata expiration check: 0:05:14 ago on Tue 02 Jun 2020 08:38:09 PM UTC. ==================================== Name Exactly Matched: nmap ===================================== nmap.x86_64 : Network exploration tool and security scanner =================================== Name & Summary Matched: nmap ==================================== nmap-ncat.x86_64 : Nmap's Netcat replacement

Listing packages

To see a list of all installed and available packages:

$ sudo dnf list all
Installed Packages GConf2.x86_64 3.2.6-22.el8 @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms NetworkManager.x86_64 1:1.22.8-4.el8 @anaconda NetworkManager-libnm.x86_64 1:1.22.8-4.el8 @anaconda NetworkManager-team.x86_64 1:1.22.8-4.el8 @anaconda NetworkManager-tui.x86_64 1:1.22.8-4.el8 ...

To list all installed packages:

$ sudo dnf list installed

Installed Packages NetworkManager.x86_64 1:1.22.8-4.el8 @anaconda NetworkManager-libnm.x86_64 1:1.22.8-4.el8 @anaconda NetworkManager-team.x86_64 1:1.22.8-4.el8 @anaconda NetworkManager-tui.x86_64 1:1.22.8-4.el8 @anaconda PackageKit.x86_64 1.1.12-4.el8 @AppStream PackageKit-glib.x86_64 1.1.12-4.el8 @AppStream WALinuxAgent.noarch 2.2.38-1.el8 @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms abattis-cantarell-fonts.noarch 0.0.25-4.el8 @AppStream acl.x86_64 2.2.53-1.el8 @anaconda ... 

To list all available packages:

$ sudo dnf list available
Last metadata expiration check: 1:15:10 ago on Tue 02 Jun 2020 05:37:11 PM UTC. Available Packages CUnit.i686 2.1.3-17.el8 rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms CUnit.x86_64 2.1.3-17.el8 rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms CUnit-devel.i686 2.1.3-17.el8 rhui-codeready-builder-for-rhel-8-x86_64-rhui-rpms CUnit-devel.x86_64 2.1.3-17.el8 rhui-codeready-builder-for-rhel-8-x86_64-rhui-rpms ...

For example, to list all MySQL  packages which are available:

$ sudo dnf list available "mysql*"
Last metadata expiration check: 1:17:04 ago on Tue 02 Jun 2020 05:37:11 PM UTC. Available Packages mysql.x86_64 8.0.17-3.module+el8.0.0+3898+e09bb8de rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms mysql-common.x86_64 8.0.17-3.module+el8.0.0+3898+e09bb8de rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms mysql-devel.x86_64 8.0.17-3.module+el8.0.0+3898+e09bb8de rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms mysql-errmsg.x86_64 8.0.17-3.module+el8.0.0+3898+e09bb8de rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms mysql-libs.x86_64 8.0.17-3.module+el8.0.0+3898+e09bb8de rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms mysql-server.x86_64 8.0.17-3.module+el8.0.0+3898+e09bb8de rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms mysql-test.x86_64 8.0.17-3.module+el8.0.0+3898+e09bb8de rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms

Displaying package information

To display information about a package:

$ sudo dnf info package_name 

For example, to display info about httpd server:

$ sudo dnf info httpd 
Last metadata expiration check: 0:15:04 ago on Mon 01 Jun 2020 11:23:11 PM UTC. Available Packages Name : httpd Version : 2.4.37 Release : 21.module+el8.2.0+5008+cca404a3 Architecture : x86_64 Size : 1.4 M Source : httpd-2.4.37-21.module+el8.2.0+5008+cca404a3.src.rpm Repository : rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms Summary : Apache HTTP Server URL : https://httpd.apache.org/ License : ASL 2.0 Description : The Apache HTTP Server is a powerful, efficient, and extensible : web server. 

Installing packages

Installing a single package

To install a single package and all its non-installed dependencies:

$ sudo dnf install package_name

For example, to install Nginx:

$ sudo dnf install nginx
Dependencies resolved. =========================================================================================== Package Arch Version Repository Size =========================================================================================== Installing: nginx x86_64 1:1.14.1-9.module+el8.0.0+4108+af250afe rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 570 k Installing dependencies: gd x86_64 2.2.5-6.el8 rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 144 k jbigkit-libs x86_64 2.1-14.el8 rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 55 k ..

This will install Nginx and all its non-installed dependency requirements.

Installing multiple packages

You can also install multiple packages by adding package names to this command. For example, to install Nginx, PHP & MySQL-server, enter:

$ sudo dnf install nginx php mysql-server
Dependencies resolved. =========================================================================================== Package Arch Version Repository Size =========================================================================================== Installing: mysql-server x86_64 8.0.17-3.module+el8.0.0+3898+e09bb8de rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 22 M nginx x86_64 1:1.14.1-9.module+el8.0.0+4108+af250afe rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 570 k php x86_64 7.2.24-1.module+el8.2.0+4601+7c76a223 rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 1.5 M Installing dependencies: apr x86_64 1.6.3-9.el8 rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 125 k apr-util x86_64 1.6.1-6.el8 rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 105 k gd x86_64 2.2.5-6.el8 rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 144 k httpd x86_64 2.4.37-21.module+el8.2.0+5008+cca404a3 rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 1.4 M httpd-filesystem noarch 2.4.37-21.module+el8.2.0+5008+cca404a3 ...

Installing a package by its binary filename

If you know the name of the binary file to install, but not the package name, even that is enough to install the relevant package.

For example, if you enter:

$ sudo dnf install /usr/sbin/named
Last metadata expiration check: 1:21:25 ago on Tue 02 Jun 2020 05:37:11 PM UTC. Dependencies resolved. ===================================================================================================== Package Arch Version Repository Size ===================================================================================================== Installing: bind x86_64 32:9.11.13-5.el8_2 rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 2.1 M Transaction Summary ===================================================================================================== Install 1 Package Total download size: 2.1 M Installed size: 4.5 M Is this ok [y/N]:

DNF searches and finds the package which provides /usr/sbin/named and prompts you to install it.

Finding which package owns a file

If you know the filename and want to find which package provides it (installed or not), use:

$ sudo dnf provides file_name

For example, to find which package provides named, the binary for DNS server use: 

$ sudo dnf provides named
Last metadata expiration check: 1:27:30 ago on Mon 01 Jun 2020 11:23:11 PM UTC. bind-32:9.11.4-16.P2.el8.x86_64 : The Berkeley Internet Name Domain (BIND) DNS (Domain Name System) : server Repo : rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms Matched from: Filename : /usr/sbin/named

Removing a package

To remove a package:

sudo dnf remove package_name

But be careful, DNF is not able to remove a package without also removing packages which depend on it. To remove package nmap use:

$ sudo dnf remove nmap Dependencies resolved. ===================================================================================================== Package Architecture Version Repository Size ===================================================================================================== Removing: nmap x86_64 2:7.70-5.el8 @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 24 M Transaction Summary ===================================================================================================== Remove 1 Package Freed space: 24 M Is this ok [y/N]:

Managing package groups

A package group is a collection of packages that are closely related and serve a common purpose. Installing a package group installs a set of packages, saving a lot of time.

List all package groups

To list all package groups:

$ sudo dnf group list
Available Environment Groups: Server with GUI Server Workstation Custom Operating System Virtualization Host Installed Environment Groups: Minimal Install Installed Groups: Security Tools Container Management Available Groups: Legacy UNIX Compatibility Development Tools Scientific Support .NET Core Development Graphical Administration Tools Headless Management RPM Development Tools Network Servers System Tools Smart Card Support

List all packages in a group

To list all packages in a group:

$ sudo dnf group info package_name

For example, to view packages in the Security Tools group:

$ sudo dnf group info “security tools” 
Group: Security Tools Description: Security tools for integrity and trust verification. Default Packages: scap-security-guide Optional Packages: aide hmaccalc openscap openscap-engine-sce openscap-utils scap-security-guide-doc scap-workbench tpm-quote-tools tpm-tools tpm2-tools trousers

Installing a package group

Installing a group will install all packages in a group. To install a package group use:

sudo dnf group install package_group_name

For example, to install the “Network Servers” group:

$ sudo dnf group install “Network Servers” 
Last metadata expiration check: 1:40:14 ago on Wed 03 Jun 2020 05:53:11 PM UTC. Dependencies resolved. =========================================================================================== Package Architecture Version Repository Size =========================================================================================== Installing Groups: Network Servers Transaction Summary =========================================================================================== Is this ok [y/N]:

Removing a package group

To remove a package group:

sudo dnf remove package_name

So, to remove the “Security Tools” package group:

$ sudo dnf group remove "security tools"
Dependencies resolved. ===================================================================================================== Package Arch Version Repository Size ===================================================================================================== Removing: scap-security-guide noarch 0.1.48-7.el8 @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 182 M Removing unused dependencies: GConf2 x86_64 3.2.6-22.el8 @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 6.3 M libxslt x86_64 1.1.32-4.el8 @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-baseos-rhui-rpms 734 k openscap x86_64 1.3.2-6.el8 @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 58 M openscap-scanner x86_64 1.3.2-6.el8 @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 137 k xml-common noarch 0.6.3-50.el8 @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-baseos-rhui-rpms 78 k Removing Groups: Security Tools Transaction Summary ===================================================================================================== Remove 6 Packages Freed space: 247 M Is this ok [y/N]: 

Updating packages

Updating all packages

To update all packages and their dependencies you can use:

$ sudo dnf upgrade
Last metadata expiration check: 1:09:31 ago on Tue 02 Jun 2020 08:38:09 PM UTC. Dependencies resolved. Nothing to do. Complete!

This installs all updates that can be installed. Both dnf upgrade and dnf update have the same effect, but dnf upgrade is preferred.

Updating a single package

To update a single package, run:

$ sudo dnf upgrade package_name

For example, to update the python package:

$ sudo dnf upgrade python 

Conclusion

Learning DNF can be rewarding as it is often the fastest way to perform system administration tasks. If interested in learning RHEL 8 then you may check out this Udemy course.

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