Home Wiki > openSUSE:Package dependencies
Sign up | Login

The english openSUSE wiki has been moved and updated recently. If you encounter any issue, please let us know by mail to admin@opensuse.org.

(Redirected from Package Dependencies)

openSUSE:Package dependencies

tagline: From openSUSE

Package Dependencies


RPM has very good capabilities of automatically finding dependencies for libraries, Perl modules, etc. There is usually no need to explicitly list "Requires:" (e.g. Requires: libqt4) when the dependency has already been picked up by RPM in the form of depending on shared libraries in the libqt4 package.

If your package splits into sub-packages, they may need to require the base package using a versioned dependency.

Requires: %{name} = %{version}

-devel sub-packages need to explicitly depend on packages with the shared libraries that the devel package has symlinks to. For example, libfoobar-devel needs:

Requires: libfoo2 = %{version}, libbar5 = %{version}

See Libzypp/Dependencies for a list of dependency and resolvable types.


PreReq is a hack; it is a high-priority "Requires" and is normally only required for breaking circular dependencies when unforgiving scriptlets are involved. Almost always, the regular Requires, Requires(pre), Requires(post), etc. work and should be used instead.


Typical usage:

BuildArch: noarch

Use this with your package, if you have no architecture dependant files in your file list.

Note that all subpackages must be also noarch, if your main package is noarch.


You must explicitly list the packages that your package requires to build successfully.

Unlike with Requires, for BuildRequires there is no automatic procedure to find dependencies. Having proper build requirements saves the time of all developers and testers because they will not need to search for missing build requirements manually. It also ensures that the build is reproducible and uses always the same features. configure scripts, for example, may exclude PNG support depending on the availability of libpng in the build system. With BuildRequires: libpng-devel (or since openSUSE 11.4: BuildRequires: pkgconfig(libpng14), you ensure that the build will fail if libpng is not present.

OBS Caveat

Conditional BuildRequires are limited to simple variables. RPM usually supports complex constructs like this in an %if expression:

%if 0%(test "%something" = "enabled" && echo 1)

But when evaluating BuildRequires, the RPM parser of the BuildService runs in an environment where subshell expansions are disabled. You'll see warnings like this:

Warning: spec file parser line 109: can't expand %(...)

%lua scripts are not interpreted by the dispatcher either; no warning is emitted.

The following example uses only a simple variable, which works with BuildRequires:

%if ! %{with own_mpfr}
BuildRequires: mpfr-devel


There is no need to include the following packages or their dependencies as BuildRequires, because they would occur too often. These packages are considered the minimum build environment.

Also try this command for a list:

osc meta prjconf openSUSE:Factory | egrep '^(Preinstall:|Support:|Required:)'
Preinstall: aaa_base acl attr bash coreutils diffutils
Preinstall: filesystem fillup glibc grep insserv libacl libattr
Preinstall: libbz2-1 libgcc%{gcc_version} libxcrypt m4 libncurses5 pam
Preinstall: permissions libreadline6 rpm sed tar zlib libselinux1
Preinstall: liblzma5 libcap2 libpcre0
Preinstall: libpopt0 libelf1 liblua5_1
Required: gcc gcc%{gcc_version} glibc perl rpm tar patch
Support: autoconf automake binutils bzip2 gcc gcc%{gcc_version}
Support: gettext-runtime glibc libtool perl rpm zlib
Support: libncurses5
Support: libaudit1 cpio cpp cpp%{gcc_version} cracklib cvs
Support: file findutils gawk gdbm gettext-tools
Support: glibc-devel glibc-locale groff gzip info less
Support: libbz2-devel libdb-4_8
Support: libstdc++%{gcc_version}
Support: udev
Support: libxcrypt libzio
Support: linux-glibc-devel make man netcfg
Support: net-tools pam-modules patch perl-base sysvinit-tools
Support: texinfo timezone util-linux libmount1 login
Support: libgomp%{gcc_version} libuuid1 psmisc
Support: terminfo-base update-alternatives pwdutils build-mkbaselibs
Support: brp-check-suse post-build-checks rpmlint-Factory
Support: build-compare
Support: libunwind libunwind-devel


Whenever possible, openSUSE packages should avoid conflicting with each other. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. For full details on openSUSE Conflicts policy, see openSUSE:Packaging conflicts.


SUSE's RPM supports the Recommends tag, but it was not available upstream until very recently. As a result, packages with Recommends will fail to build for OBS targets Fedora_18, RHEL_6 and CentOS_6, for example. A workaround is to exclude the Recommends tag from non-SUSE targets:

%if 0%{?suse_version}
Recommends: foo

Alternatively the Recommends tag could become a Requires tag so that a recommended package (foo) gets installed in any case on systems that do not support RPM Recommends:

%if 0%{?suse_version}
Recommends: foo
Requires: foo

See also openSUSE:Build Service cross distribution howto

File Dependencies

RPM gives you the ability to depend on files instead of packages. Whenever possible, you should avoid file dependencies outside of /etc, /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin, or /usr/sbin. Using file dependencies outside of those directories requires yum (and other depsolvers using the repomd format) to download and parse a large XML file looking for the dependency. Helping the depsolvers avoid this processing by depending on the package instead of the file saves our end users a lot of time. There are times when other technical considerations outweigh these considerations. One specific example is packages installing into %{_libdir}/mozilla/plugins. In this case, mandating a specific browser in your package just to own this directory could drag in a large amount of needless packages. Requiring the directory to resolve the dependency is the better choice.

How to do distribution upgrades

There are two update modes which need different behaviour

  1. Bugfixes (Patches)
  2. Distribution upgrade

In the first mode, installed packages are patched in order to fix bugs or to introduce missing functionality. However, the package version usually stays since the pristine tarball is the same; only the package release number is changed.

Also, the build environment (compiler, libraries, etc.) only sees minimal changes.

Distribution upgrade lifts the complete system to a new level and the operating system version gets increased. (If the system is e.g. openSUSE 10.2, it will increase to openSUSE 10.3) The package changes allowed during distribution upgrade can be much more severe and include

  • dropped packages
  • new packages
  • renamed packages
  • merged packages
  • splitted packages

Such changes are hard (or even impossible) to express by RPM dependencies. Thus, a more expressive form of package dependencies is needed so the system upgrade can be performed.

This Wiki page documents how to express dependencies for distribution upgrade.

If you are adding dependencies for seamless system upgrade, do not forget to specify the openSUSE version for which these are required. It will allow to recognize these lines as obsolete in future versions (most probably it would be openSUSE version + 1 and SLE version + 2).

Means to express dependencies

Each package can express dependencies on other packages by defining symbolic names for Provides, Requires, and Conflicts.
These symbolic names are usually names of packages but can also be “abstract” names not related to a package.

These symbolic names can be used to express capabilities which are unrelated to a specific package. For example, the capability MTA (mail transport agent) is provided by multiple packages, sendmail and postfix being the most prominent.

It is important to remember that all symbolic names (being package or abstract names) reside in the same namespace. When choosing an abstract name (e.g. for a capability), it must not conflict with another package name.

To express update dependencies in order to replace one (old) package with another (newer) package, the Obsoletes tag is used.

Facts for RPM dependencies

  • Each package implicitly provides its name.
    There is no need to provide the package name, but other packages can require (or conflict with) the package name.
  • A package can not conflict with a symbolic tag it provides.
    Since the package name is provided implicitly, a package can not conflict with itself.
  • Obsolete works on real package names only.
    One can not obsolete a symbolic tag.
  • Symbolic names, as used in Requires, Provides and Conflicts are case-sensitive.

Basic dependencies

Installing a new package


Name: pac
Version: 1.0

Updating a package


Name: pac
Version: 1.1

The matching name and the higher version make this an update for pac-1.0.

Renaming a package


Name: package
Version: 1.1
Provides: pac = %version
Obsoletes: pac < %version

Strictly speaking, giving the old package name in the Provides: field is only needed if another package requires the old package name. Please add the Version number to the field of the old package name, so a later re-renaming is possible. (For example: Provides: pac = 1.0). In 90% of the cases, you can just use %version as in the example above.

However, the Provides: entry triggers the selection of the new package during update. It is this field which tells that it is taking over for the old package. The Obsoletes: just says to delete the package. The Version: field is irrelevant here, but you should also add the old package version number to the Obsoletes: field (in this example: Obsoletes: pac <= 1.0) to enable "the way back" to the old package name with a higher version number. As shown in the example, you can use %version here aswell. Be sure to only use "<" in that case, otherwise you can not revert to the old name within the same version.

If you obsolete a subpackage with a different version number than the main package, you can not use %version in Provides/Obsoletes. Of course, you can use the same version string as in Version of the subpackage.

Please also add a simple comment to the specfile, e. g. “# pac was last used in openSUSE 12.3”. Without it, it will be hard to decide when it is possible to wipe these lines out. Otherwise, it may stay there forever.

Replace a package by another with the same functionality


Name: package
Version: 1.1
Obsoletes: pac < %version

Instead of renaming a package, pac will be replaced by package, although package provides no files of pac. So package does not provide pac.

This only works if one package obsoletes pac only. If there are more packages, the solver will not do this update.

Splitting and Merging

Splitting off a sub-package


pac.spec pac-devel.spec
Name: pac Name: pac-devel
Version: 1.1 Version: 1.1
Requires: Requires:
Provides: Provides: pac:/file/from/pac
Obsoletes: Obsoletes:
Conflicts: Conflicts:

Splitting a package into two


firstpac.spec secondpac.spec
Name: firstpac Name: secondpac
Version: 1.1 Version: 1.1
Requires: Requires:
Provides: pac = 8.15 Provides: pac:/file/from/pac
Obsoletes: pac <= 8.15 Obsoletes:
Conflicts: Conflicts:

The example shown lists separate spec files for pac and pac-devel. (Remember that RPM allows to define sub-packages from a “main” package with a single .spec file.

The dependency resolution (installing both new packages) is done by YaST with the split-alias mentioned in Provides: of pac-devel.

It is up to the package maintainer to decide about dependencies between pac and pac-devel. For example, if one wants to split a library package into a main, a -devel, and a -doc package, the main and the -doc package are independant, but the -devel package requires the main package.

During an update, the aformentioned split-alias tag is important. YaST only updates already installed packages, in this case only the main package. Without the split-alias, this would remove files needed for development which were part of the old main package but are not in the new main package.

The given Provides: for pac now triggers this update dependency as it tells YaST also to install pac-devel even though it was not installed before.

Warning Split-alias tags are used by YaST only, RPM never sees them.

If a package is split in more than two packages, the split-alias tags must be mutually exclusive. It is the only way for YaST to correctly handle such update dependencies.

Important enhancement for the future

Splitting a library package into a main and a -devel package is always a good idea. But it does not make sense in every case — because sometimes, the -devel package would be too small or does not contain anything. In this case, just add a Provides: pac-devel = %version in the main package to do the trick that other packages can require this virtual -devel package.

Please also add a simple comment to the specfile, e. g. “# -devel splitted in openSUSE 12.3”. Without it, it will be hard to decide when it is possible to wipe these lines out. Otherwise it may stay there forever.

Merging a package


Name: package
Version: 1.1
Provides: pac = 8.15
Obsoletes: pac <= 8.15

This is comparable to a package rename. The new package must also incorporate the Provides and Obsoletes tags from the old package. This is needed to properly update from distribution before X.

Merging two packages into a new one


Name: package
Version: 1.1
Provides: pac1 = 8.15, pac2 = 2.3
Obsoletes: pac1 <= 8.15, pac2 <= 2.3

Handling alternatives

Non conflicting


firstpac.spec secondpac.spec thirdpac.spec
Name: firstpac Name: secondpac Name: thirdpac
Version: 1.0 Version: 1.0 Version: 1.0
Requires: Requires: Requires:
Provides: Pac = 1.0 Provides: Pac = 1.0 Provides: Pac 1.0
Obsoletes: Obsoletes: Obsoletes:
Conflicts: Conflicts: Conflicts:

All three package provide the capability Pac and can be installed in parallel.

(The upper case letter in Pac is choosen on purpose to distinguish this tag from a package. Such capabilities must be agreed upon within the openSUSE community. Ask on the "opensuse-packaging" mailing list before inventing your own tag!).

Example: xdm and kdm provide capability "Display-Manager".

Partially conflicting


firstpac.spec secondpac.spec thirdpac.spec
Name: firstpac Name: secondpac Name: thirdpac
Version: 1.0 Version: 1.0 Version: 1.0
Requires: Requires: Requires:
Provides: Pac = 1.0 Provides: Pac = 1.0 Provides: Pac = 1.0
Obsoletes: Obsoletes: Obsoletes:
Conflicts: secondpac Conflicts: firstpac Conflicts:

The Conflicts express that only either firstpac or secondpac might be installed, but not both.

Mutually exclusive


firstpac.spec secondpac.spec thirdpac.spec
Name: firstpac Name: secondpac Name: thirdpac
Version: 1.0 Version: 1.0 Version: 1.0
Requires: Requires: Requires:
Provides: Pac = 1.0 Provides: Pac = 1.0 Provides: Pac = 1.0
Obsoletes: Obsoletes: Obsoletes:
Conflicts: secondpac thirdpac Conflicts: firstpac thirdpac Conflicts: firstpac secondpac

Only one of firstpac, secondpac, or thirdpac might be installed.