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a few note about rpm

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

I spent some time today to prepare some rpm packages for an RHEL4 box, it was an interesting experience. To preface to this story is that first I had to do the followings on Frugalware:

  • Patch mysql 5.0.37 to add support for the sphinx search engine
  • Make sure about sphinx itself works fine with this (though sadly I haven't had time yet to package sphinx as well).

We have a newer (but compatible, since we still ship 5.0.x) mysql, but a simple git checkout gave me the old buildscript and then the patch applied perfectly.

Then the plan changed, I needed to do this on an RHEL4 box as well.


  • Fix broken up2date config, it seems nobody installed any security update on the box for a long time.
  • Notice that RHEL4 has mysql 4.x, so I had to upgrade it to 5.0.x which was not trivial.
  • After adding the patch to the spec file, I saw that there are a bunch of manual autoconf/automake/autoheader/autowhatever calls, so I did not add a call to mysql's own autogen script. It turned out later that this was a fault, the default autofoo calls did not regenerate all the necessary files, basically they just took a lot of time, but did not really do anything useful. Sigh.
  • Once build was done, I had to rebuild perl's mysql driver and the whole php package because of the major mysql upgrade. Did I say I hate to touch php?
  • And finally the worst was to package sphinx. I used some opensuse spec file, but it turned out to be badly broken on RHEL4. Fixing it was not so problematic, but took a lot of time, because debugging a specfile under RH is a PITA.
  • Let me show a few examples. The equivalent of Fdestdir (the directory which will be tared up after the build is done) is not rm -rf'd before the build starts. So if you have some crap there, your final package will have it.
  • OTOH, Fsrcdir (the directory where the build takes place) is deleted, which means you can't do an incremental build.
  • If you break your pre-uninstall script, you can't easily uninstall a package, even with rpm -e --force --nodeps (you need some magic --no-preun switch, which is not implied by --force).
  • If you say rpm -Uvh foo-2.0.rpm, then sometimes it bails out with an error about it has a file conflict because /bar/ is provided by foo-1.0. What? Doesn't -U stand for upgrade?

Okay, this was enough. I finally finished the task, but I again just can make a "this is so much more efficient with Frugalware" note. ;-)

And no, I don't like to write about why foo sucks, but both this packaging system (or at least the default settings) a docbook sometimes really sucks.

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