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Exploring RPM Package Files: My Comprehensive Guide

In my journey with RPM-based Linux distributions, I’ve encountered numerous scenarios where understanding the contents of an RPM package became essential.

Whether it’s for troubleshooting issues or gaining insights into system modifications, exploring RPM packages has been a valuable skill.

Let me share with you my comprehensive guide on listing files within RPM packages.

Getting to Know RPM Packages: My Experience

Before diving into the exciting world of exploring RPM packages, it’s essential to grasp some basic information about what they are and how they work.

Let me share with you what I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Naming Convention: RPM packages follow a specific naming convention that tells us a lot about them. For example, a package like “example-package-1.0-1.rpm” breaks down like this: “example-package” is the name, “1.0” is the version, “1” is the release, and it’s built for a specific architecture like x86_64 or i386.
  2. Metadata Magic: Inside every RPM package, there’s a treasure trove of metadata. This metadata contains crucial information like the package name, version, description, dependencies, and more. It’s like having a cheat sheet that helps package management tools do their job properly.
  3. File Organization: Ever wonder how files are organized inside an RPM package? Well, wonder no more! They follow the Linux Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS), which means files are neatly organized into directories like /bin for executables, /etc for configuration files, and /usr/share/doc for documentation.
  4. Digital Security: To ensure that RPM packages haven’t been tampered with, they can be digitally signed. These digital signatures act like a seal of approval, letting us know that the package comes from a trusted source and hasn’t been messed with.

Understanding these fundamental aspects of RPM packages lays the groundwork for our exploration journey. Armed with this knowledge, let’s dive into the exciting world of exploring RPM package files.

Exploring Local RPM Packages

When I have an RPM file stored locally, my exploration begins with a simple command in the terminal:

rpm -qlp /path/to/package.rpm

This command serves as my gateway to querying information about the RPM package file. For instance, if I’ve recently downloaded an RPM package named “example-package-1.0-1.rpm” and saved it to the “/tmp” directory, I execute:

rpm -qlp /tmp/example-package-1.0-1.rpm

This command will display a list of files included in the example-package-1.0-1.rpm package, along with their respective paths. The output will look something like this:


Each line represents a file or directory within the package, and the paths indicate where they are located within the system.

Please note that this is just an example, and the actual output will depend on the specific RPM package you are querying.
This action reveals a detailed list of all files included within the “example-package” RPM package, providing valuable insights before proceeding with installation.

Listing Installed RPM Package Files

When I seek to understand the existing components installed on my system, I turn to a command that provides a comprehensive overview:

rpm -ql package-name

For instance, if I’m curious about the files installed by the “httpd” RPM package, I execute:

rpm -ql httpd

This command meticulously lists all files installed on my system by the “httpd” package, ranging from configuration files to executable binaries, offering a deeper understanding of its impact.

You can also query multiple packages at once by providing multiple package names as arguments to the rpm -ql command. For example:

rpm -ql package1 package2 package3

Let’s say you want to find all configuration files provided by the package nginx that contain the word “conf”. 

rpm -ql nginx | grep conf

This command filters the list to only display those files containing ‘conf’, which can be immensely helpful when you’re managing or troubleshooting Nginx configurations.

Exploring RPM Packages with DNF

As a loyal user of DNF, I appreciate its versatility, especially when it comes to querying RPM package details. Utilizing the “repoquery” feature, I effortlessly list files included in RPM packages available in enabled repositories:

dnf repoquery -l package-name

For instance, if I’m interested in exploring the contents of the “httpd” package within enabled repositories, I execute:

dnf repoquery -l httpd

This command promptly presents me with a comprehensive list of files contained in the “httpd” package, streamlining my exploration process.

Using Repoquery for RPM Package Details

In my quest for deeper insights, Repoquery emerges as a valuable companion. It is a command-line utility that provides various functionalities for querying package repositories managed by DNF. 

You can install repoquery along with other essential DNF plugins using the following command in your terminal:

sudo dnf install dnf-plugins-core

Repoquery offers an array of functionalities:

repoquery -l package-name

For instance, to delve into the files packaged within “httpd,” I rely on:

repoquery --list httpd

This command not only lists files but also facilitates various inquiries, including package dependencies and file provisions, enriching my exploration experience.

Here are the commands I use often. 

Example Usage:

  • repoquery –whatprovides /usr/bin/python3: Find which package provides the Python 3 interpreter.
  • repoquery –requires <package>: List dependencies required by a specific package.
  • repoquery –whatrequires <package>: List packages that depend on a specified package.
  • repoquery –installed: List all packages that are currently installed on the system.


By leveraging these methods, I embark on a comprehensive exploration of RPM packages, whether they reside locally or within repositories. These insights empower me to make informed decisions, enhancing the efficiency and stability of my Linux environment.