Debian (DEB) and Red Hat Package Manager (RPM) are the two most commonly used package formats for Linux distributions. Both formats are used for package management, there are also differences between them. In this post we will look at those differences.
Linux - Package Management
Both DEB and RPM are package management systems (PMS) which are used to manage software installation, updates and uninstallations on Linux.
DEB packages are used by Debian based systems such as Debian, and Debian derived distributions such as Ubuntu, and Mint.
RPM packages on the other hand are used by Red Hat based distributions such as CentOS, Fedora, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Linux - Package Installation
The major difference between the package formats is how they are installed.
DEB packages are use dpkg package manager to install them, while RPM packages use the RPM Package Manager.
Using dpkg it installs, configures and removes DEB packages on Debian based Linux distributions.
The packages end in .deb format. These files have everything that is needed to install the packages.
The command to install such a package is the following:
dpkg -i PACKAGE NAME.deb in the terminal.
On the other hand, the RPM package manager takes care of installing, configuring and removing RPM based packages on Red Hat Systems.
The .rpm format for packages is used, and contains all the files required for installation.
To install an RPM package, you can issue the following command:
rpm -ivh PACKAGE NAME.rpm on the terminal.
Linux - Package Dependencies
Another difference between DEB and RPM is how they handle package dependencies.
Dependencies are libraries and other packages in order for them to function correctly.
DEB and RPM basically use different methods to manage the package dependencies.
DEB packages use a system called APT, Advanced Packaging Tool (APT) to manage the dependencies. It downloads and installs any of the required dependencies for the package to function properly. This makes the installation process easier to do over using the dpkg command.
RPM packages use a system called Yellowdog Updater Modified, or yum, to manage package dependencies. It downloads and install the dependencies that are required for packages to function correctly.
Which every package management system you use it makes it easy to install the software you need with out having to manually install its respective dependencies.
Linux - Package Repositories
Depending on the type of packages you are working with, they will have servers that store the packages and their metadata for those particular formats. DEB & RPM use different types of package repositories.
With DEB packages you use a Debian Package Repositories to store the packages and the package metadata. These repositories are maintained by the Debian community and are available from various worldwide mirrors.
RPM packages use the RPM Package Manager Repositories to store the packages and package metadata. Such repositories are maintained by the Red Hat community and are also available from various worldwide mirrors.
Linux - Package Management Tools
Both package formats have their respective package management tools.
DEB packages use a low level tool called the dpkg package manager. This is a command line (CLI) too that can be used to install, configure and remove packages.
RPM has its own low level package management tool, which is rpm. This is also a command line tool (CLI) which is used to install configure and remove RPM packages.
Both types of packages have high level package management tools as well. For DEB packages there is APT which is used to install, configure and remove packages via the command line. This is built on top of dpkg and offers more advanced features such as automatic dependency resolution as well as package caching.
Like APT RPM packages have their own high level tool as well, called YUM. This is built on top of the rpm command and it too offers advanced features such as automatic dependency resolution and package caching.
To conclude the main difference between the package formats of DEB and RPM are in the methods of how the packages are installed, dependencies resolved, as well as the package repositories and management tools.
DEB packages use dpkg for installation and apt for package management, while RPM uses rpm and yum for package management.
Apt is used by DEB packages to automatically install dependencies and yum is used to do the same for RPM packages.
DEB uses Debian package repositories while RPM using the RPM package manager repositories.
Depending on which type of distribution you use will determine the type of package management systems you use.