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DNF is the default package management system on most RPM-based Linux distributions now.

DNF downloads packages from repositories installs, uninstall, and updates packages. It performs automatic dependency resolution for packages you are installing, updating, or removing and installs all packages needed to fulfill dependency requirements.

On Fedora, it has been the default package manager since Fedora 22. On RHEL 8.x, it is now the default package manager.

DNF provides secure package management by enabling GPG signature verification on GPG signed packages. DNF will not install any package not signed with the correct key for that repository.

For backward compatibility, RHEL 8.x has a YUM command also, though it is a link to DNF.

Why DNF?

DNF or Dandified YUM is the next generation YUM. Compared to YUM, DNF has better memory utilization, improved dependency management, and the ability to run using both Python 2 & Python 3.

Package Management with DNF

You must have superuser privileges to use the DNF Command to install, update, or remove the package. Following is a set of DNF commands frequently used by sysadmins.

Searching a package

To search for a package installed or available across all repositories, use

$ sudo dnf search package_name

For example to search for package Nmap:

$ sudo dnf search nmap
Last metadata expiration check: 0:05:14 ago on Tue 02 Jun 2020 08:38:09 PM UTC.
==================================== Name Exactly Matched: nmap =====================================
nmap.x86_64 : Network exploration tool and security scanner
=================================== Name & Summary Matched: nmap ====================================
nmap-ncat.x86_64 : Nmap's Netcat replacement

Listing packages

To see a list of all installed and available packages:

$ sudo dnf list all
Installed Packages
GConf2.x86_64                                        3.2.6-22.el8                                      @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms
NetworkManager.x86_64                                1:1.22.8-4.el8                                    @anaconda
NetworkManager-libnm.x86_64                          1:1.22.8-4.el8                                    @anaconda
NetworkManager-team.x86_64                           1:1.22.8-4.el8                                    @anaconda
NetworkManager-tui.x86_64                            1:1.22.8-4.el8 
...

To list all installed packages:

$ sudo dnf list installed

Installed Packages
NetworkManager.x86_64             1:1.22.8-4.el8          @anaconda                                  
NetworkManager-libnm.x86_64       1:1.22.8-4.el8          @anaconda                                  
NetworkManager-team.x86_64        1:1.22.8-4.el8          @anaconda                                  
NetworkManager-tui.x86_64         1:1.22.8-4.el8          @anaconda                                  
PackageKit.x86_64                 1.1.12-4.el8            @AppStream                                 
PackageKit-glib.x86_64            1.1.12-4.el8            @AppStream                                 
WALinuxAgent.noarch               2.2.38-1.el8            @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms
abattis-cantarell-fonts.noarch    0.0.25-4.el8            @AppStream                                 
acl.x86_64                        2.2.53-1.el8            @anaconda 
...                                                                      

To list all available packages:

$ sudo dnf list available
Last metadata expiration check: 1:15:10 ago on Tue 02 Jun 2020 05:37:11 PM UTC.
Available Packages
CUnit.i686                                           2.1.3-17.el8                                      rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms
CUnit.x86_64                                         2.1.3-17.el8                                      rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms
CUnit-devel.i686                                     2.1.3-17.el8                                      rhui-codeready-builder-for-rhel-8-x86_64-rhui-rpms
CUnit-devel.x86_64                                   2.1.3-17.el8                                      rhui-codeready-builder-for-rhel-8-x86_64-rhui-rpms
...

For example, to list all MySQL  packages which are available:

$ sudo dnf list available "mysql*"
Last metadata expiration check: 1:17:04 ago on Tue 02 Jun 2020 05:37:11 PM UTC.
Available Packages
mysql.x86_64        8.0.17-3.module+el8.0.0+3898+e09bb8de  rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms
mysql-common.x86_64 8.0.17-3.module+el8.0.0+3898+e09bb8de  rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms
mysql-devel.x86_64  8.0.17-3.module+el8.0.0+3898+e09bb8de  rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms
mysql-errmsg.x86_64 8.0.17-3.module+el8.0.0+3898+e09bb8de  rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms
mysql-libs.x86_64   8.0.17-3.module+el8.0.0+3898+e09bb8de  rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms
mysql-server.x86_64 8.0.17-3.module+el8.0.0+3898+e09bb8de  rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms
mysql-test.x86_64   8.0.17-3.module+el8.0.0+3898+e09bb8de  rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms

Displaying package information

To display information about a package:

$ sudo dnf info package_name

For example, to display info about httpd server:

$ sudo dnf info httpd
Last metadata expiration check: 0:15:04 ago on Mon 01 Jun 2020 11:23:11 PM UTC.
Available Packages
Name         : httpd
Version      : 2.4.37
Release      : 21.module+el8.2.0+5008+cca404a3
Architecture : x86_64
Size         : 1.4 M
Source       : httpd-2.4.37-21.module+el8.2.0+5008+cca404a3.src.rpm
Repository   : rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms
Summary      : Apache HTTP Server
URL          : https://httpd.apache.org/
License      : ASL 2.0
Description  : The Apache HTTP Server is a powerful, efficient, and extensible
             : web server.

Installing packages

Installing a single package

To install a single package and all its non-installed dependencies:

$ sudo dnf install package_name

For example, to install Nginx:

$ sudo dnf install nginx
Dependencies resolved.
===========================================================================================
 Package             Arch   Version       Repository                                  Size
===========================================================================================
Installing:
 nginx               x86_64 1:1.14.1-9.module+el8.0.0+4108+af250afe
                                          rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 570 k
Installing dependencies:
 gd                  x86_64 2.2.5-6.el8   rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 144 k
 jbigkit-libs        x86_64 2.1-14.el8    rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms  55 k
..

This will install Nginx and all its non-installed dependency requirements.

Installing multiple packages

You can also install multiple packages by adding package names to this command. For example, to install Nginx, PHP & MySQL-server, enter:

$ sudo dnf install nginx php mysql-server
Dependencies resolved.
===========================================================================================
 Package          Arch   Version          Repository                                  Size
===========================================================================================
Installing:
 mysql-server     x86_64 8.0.17-3.module+el8.0.0+3898+e09bb8de
                                          rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms  22 M
 nginx            x86_64 1:1.14.1-9.module+el8.0.0+4108+af250afe
                                          rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 570 k
 php              x86_64 7.2.24-1.module+el8.2.0+4601+7c76a223
                                          rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 1.5 M
Installing dependencies:
 apr              x86_64 1.6.3-9.el8      rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 125 k
 apr-util         x86_64 1.6.1-6.el8      rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 105 k
 gd               x86_64 2.2.5-6.el8      rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 144 k
 httpd            x86_64 2.4.37-21.module+el8.2.0+5008+cca404a3
                                          rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms 1.4 M
 httpd-filesystem noarch 2.4.37-21.module+el8.2.0+5008+cca404a3
...

Installing a package by its binary filename

If you know the name of the binary file to install, but not the package name, even that is enough to install the relevant package.

For example, if you enter:

$ sudo dnf install /usr/sbin/named
Last metadata expiration check: 1:21:25 ago on Tue 02 Jun 2020 05:37:11 PM UTC.
Dependencies resolved.
=====================================================================================================
 Package   Arch        Version                 Repository                                       Size
=====================================================================================================
Installing:
 bind      x86_64      32:9.11.13-5.el8_2      rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms      2.1 M

Transaction Summary
=====================================================================================================
Install  1 Package

Total download size: 2.1 M
Installed size: 4.5 M
Is this ok [y/N]:

DNF searches and finds the package which provides /usr/sbin/named and prompts you to install it.

Finding which package owns a file

If you know the filename and want to find which package provides it (installed or not), use:

$ sudo dnf provides file_name

For example, to find which package provides named, the binary for DNS server use: 

$ sudo dnf provides named
Last metadata expiration check: 1:27:30 ago on Mon 01 Jun 2020 11:23:11 PM UTC. 
bind-32:9.11.4-16.P2.el8.x86_64 : 
The Berkeley Internet Name Domain (BIND) DNS (Domain Name System) : 
server Repo : rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms Matched from: Filename : 
/usr/sbin/named

Removing a package

To remove a package:

sudo dnf remove package_name

But be careful, DNF is not able to remove a package without also removing packages which depend on it. To remove package nmap use:

$ sudo dnf remove nmap
Dependencies resolved.
=====================================================================================================
 Package    Architecture Version             Repository                                         Size
=====================================================================================================
Removing:
 nmap       x86_64       2:7.70-5.el8        @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms        24 M

Transaction Summary
=====================================================================================================
Remove  1 Package

Freed space: 24 M
Is this ok [y/N]:

Managing package groups

A package group is a collection of packages that are closely related and serve a common purpose. Installing a package group installs a set of packages, saving a lot of time.

List all package groups

To list all package groups:

$ sudo dnf group list
Available Environment Groups:
   Server with GUI
   Server
   Workstation
   Custom Operating System
   Virtualization Host
Installed Environment Groups:
   Minimal Install
Installed Groups:
   Security Tools
   Container Management
Available Groups:
   Legacy UNIX Compatibility
   Development Tools
   Scientific Support
   .NET Core Development
   Graphical Administration Tools
   Headless Management
   RPM Development Tools
   Network Servers
   System Tools
   Smart Card Support

List all packages in a group

To list all packages in a group:

$ sudo dnf group info package_name

For example, to view packages in the Security Tools group:

$ sudo dnf group info “security tools”
Group: Security Tools
 Description: Security tools for integrity and trust verification.
 Default Packages:
   scap-security-guide
 Optional Packages:
   aide
   hmaccalc
   openscap
   openscap-engine-sce
   openscap-utils
   scap-security-guide-doc
   scap-workbench
   tpm-quote-tools
   tpm-tools
   tpm2-tools
   trousers

Installing a package group

Installing a group will install all packages in a group. To install a package group use:

sudo dnf group install package_group_name

For example, to install the “Network Servers” group:

$ sudo dnf group install “Network Servers”
Last metadata expiration check: 1:40:14 ago on Wed 03 Jun 2020 05:53:11 PM UTC.
Dependencies resolved.
===========================================================================================
 Package              Architecture        Version               Repository            Size
===========================================================================================
Installing Groups:
 Network Servers                                                                          

Transaction Summary
===========================================================================================

Is this ok [y/N]:

Removing a package group

To remove a package group:

sudo dnf remove package_name

So, to remove the “Security Tools” package group:

$ sudo dnf group remove "security tools"
Dependencies resolved.
=====================================================================================================
 Package               Arch     Version          Repository                                     Size
=====================================================================================================
Removing:
 scap-security-guide   noarch   0.1.48-7.el8     @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms   182 M
Removing unused dependencies:
 GConf2                x86_64   3.2.6-22.el8     @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms   6.3 M
 libxslt               x86_64   1.1.32-4.el8     @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-baseos-rhui-rpms      734 k
 openscap              x86_64   1.3.2-6.el8      @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms    58 M
 openscap-scanner      x86_64   1.3.2-6.el8      @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-appstream-rhui-rpms   137 k
 xml-common            noarch   0.6.3-50.el8     @rhui-rhel-8-for-x86_64-baseos-rhui-rpms       78 k
Removing Groups:
 Security Tools                                                                                     

Transaction Summary
=====================================================================================================
Remove  6 Packages

Freed space: 247 M
Is this ok [y/N]: 

Updating packages

Updating all packages

To update all packages and their dependencies you can use:

$ sudo dnf upgrade
Last metadata expiration check: 1:09:31 ago on Tue 02 Jun 2020 08:38:09 PM UTC.
Dependencies resolved.
Nothing to do.
Complete!

This installs all updates that can be installed. Both dnf upgrade and dnf update have the same effect, but dnf upgrade is preferred.

Updating a single package

To update a single package, run:

$ sudo dnf upgrade package_name

For example, to update the python package:

$ sudo dnf upgrade python

Conclusion

Learning DNF can be rewarding as it is often the fastest way to perform system administration tasks. If interested in learning RHEL 8 then you may check out this Udemy course.