Roll out the Red Carpet

Keeping your Linux distribution up-to-date is important, especially if you plan to run the latest software and want to keep your system current. One update tool that can perform this arduous task for you is Ximian’s Red Carpet (www.ximian.com).

In its native versions, Ximian Red Carpet is available for a variety of distributions: Debian Potato-Woody (2.2-3.0), Mandrake 8.1-9.0, Red Hat 6.2-8.0, SuSE 7.3-8.1 and Yellow Dog 2.2.

Two versions of Red Carpet are available: GUI and command line. To use the GUI version of Red Carpet, a basic version of GNOME is required. To install Red Carpet, use the RPM or DPKG (depending on your distribution) on each of the files in the directory corresponding to your distribution. Red Carpet will retrieve the latest information from the Internet, so make sure you are connected before starting the program. Initially, you may be required to fill out some information so that Red Carpet can identify the needs of your system.

Red Carpet: GUI

To start the GUI version of Red Carpet type the following into a shell as root:

$ red-carpet

Channel watch

Red Carpet uses channels to organise the software available for you to download. To access the software available within a channel, you must first subscribe to it, so choose the channel corresponding to your distribution. To sign up, click on the Unsubscribed Channels button on the left and then click on the channel named after your distribution. This will launch an information page for the channel; to subscribe, click the Subscribe button that appears in the bottom right corner of the window.

Once you have subscribed to a channel it will be added to your list of subscribed channels, accessible from the menu on the left. To view any new updates for your distribution, click on the required channel from the displayed list, and a list of updates will appear (if any are available).

Installation tool

Red Carpet can also be used to install and uninstall software. If you have a high-speed Internet connection this can be a great time-saver, as you don’t need to have your distribution CDs on hand in order to start this procedure.

To install new software, select the relevant channel and click the Install button in the top right corner of the window. A list of available software will appear. To install a package, tick the box next to its name and when ready click on the Install Packages button in the bottom right corner of the window.

Removing or uninstalling software is similar to the installation process. Click the Remove button located in the top right corner of the window, and all of the packages currently installed on your system will be displayed. To remove a package, tick the box next to the package name and click the Remove Packages button in the bottom right corner of the window.

Red Carpet: Command line

Red Carpet can be accessed from the command line using the rc command. The command line tool performs all of the same functions as the GUI tool, making it a handy utility for scripting regular system updates and quickly installing new software. A full list of functions available using the rc command can be obtained by typing into a shell:

$ rc help

To update your system using rc, type the following as root:

$ rc lu

If you need to install a program, for example abiword, you can easily locate it by searching with the command:

$ rc se abiword

This command outputs:

S | Channel | Name | Version ----+------------------------------+--------------+--------------------- | Red Hat Linux 8.0 | abiword | 1:1.0.2-6

This reveals that abiword is available. Further information, such as a description and size, can be obtained by using the command:

$ rc if abiword

Abiword can be installed using the following command as root:

$ rc in abiword

As illustrated, Red Carpet provides a simple interface for package management on your Linux system. If you have multiple Linux systems running different distributions, Red Carpet can greatly simplify managing packages and keeping up-to-date with just one tool.

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Alastair Cousins

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