YAST - Administration Tool

Managing Software with YAST

Installing, upgrading, patching, removing of software on Linux using YAST

What is YAST? Yast is a multi-purpose systems configuration tool that gives you either a text based interactive menu system or a full GUI interface for managing your system. Yast is also known as "Yet Another System Tool". It is probably the Swiss army knife or config tools as it can manage any part of your system. Yast is mainly used to control rpm based systems such as openSUSE and the Enterprise versions SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server). As we mentioned earlier it is available in to distinct flavours, text based or GUI. This is very useful if you are managing servers that normally do not operate with a GUI desktop (running at run level 3) as you can use the command "yast" from a command line to access the interactive menus. To demonstrate this I am going to use ssh from an Ubuntu system to remotely access a openSUSE system and use the "yast" configuration tool.

In the examples below, we will give a quick overview of some of the common uses of yast as a package management tool:

YaST Control Center

From the command line we issue the command "yast", this will open up the following interactive menu:

YAST Main Screen Menu

From this menu we can now use the cursor keys to highlight any of the selected menus. The main heading menus are located to the left and sub headings are located to the right. For software management, we need to select "Software Management" from the right hand panel.

Once you have highlighted this option, press "Enter" to select.

YAST Software Management

The next screen "sw_single" is displayed. It is here that we can search, install or remove packages.

YAST Summary

To navigate to the different text entry boxes you can use the "Tab" key to go forwards and also "shift + Tab" to go backwards. You may also Press "Alt + highlighted Letter" to carry out an action.

In this example we are going to install the package "htop". First we need to type "htop" into the "Search Phrase" box to see if it is available in our repositories. Now we press "Enter" to commit our search.

If the package "htop" is available, you will see it displayed in the left hand panel. The column before the "Name and Summary" section will be blank if the package is not already installed. Otherwise, you will see an "i" indicating that it is already installed.

Located in the lower right hand panel is an option "Actions". You need to select this to see what actions can be carried out against the package "htop"
You can select the options to "Install, Delete or Update". If we move the selector to the "Install" option and then press "Space" to select you should now see that the package has now been selected for installation. This is indicated by a "+" located to the side of the package name.

Now all that remains is to confirm the selection. To do this select the "Accept" option. Either Tab down to this selection or select the highlighted letter with "Alt + A".

If you have "tabbed" down to the "Accept", press "Enter" to confirm.

You will now see various messages displayed to your console indicating the progress of your installation.

Once your installation has completed, you are taken back to the main "YAST Control Center" screen.

Now if you go back into the "Software Management" option and add our package name into the "Search Phrase" box and press enter. you should now see a similar screen as before except that now our package has been installed. This is indicated by the "small "i" located to the left of the package.

YAST Package Installation

As Yast is a menu driven system, we can quickly see what options are available to our packages. More information can be obtained directly from "yast" by selecting the interactive "help" menu in the bottom left hand corner of the main screen.

Although we used "ssh" to access our server remotely using the "text" based interface, there is also a GUI version available if you have access to the desktop. If there is a desktop available you are probably running in "runlevel 5". The GUI version has exactly the same functionality as the text based version, however, it uses fancier graphics to portray the same information:

Yast - GUI Interface from a KDE Desktop on an openSUSE system

YAST GUI Interface