I'm switching to CentOS from another distribution, and I'm not used to working with yum. I'd like to know if there's a way to know which installed packages have files in a directory.

For example I'd like to know which packages have files within /usr/share/applications.

Looking at what yum provides I saw there's a way to see installed packages (list installed) but even providing -q doesn't get me just the names of the packages. I saw no option to list contents of a single package however.

Is it possible? How could I do it?


There isn't a way to do this using yum but you can craft a rpm command that will do mostly what you want. You'll have to utilize the --queryformat option and iterate through the array of filenames using the little known option [..] in the --queryformat.

NOTE: All these features are discussed in the manual for RPM, Maximum RPM: Taking the Red Hat Package Manager to the Limit.

$ rpm -qa --queryformat '[%{NAME}: %{FILENAMES}\n]' | \
    sed 's#\(/.*/\).*$#\1#' | sort -u | grep '/usr/sbin' | head -10
abrt-addon-ccpp: /usr/sbin/
abrt-addon-pstoreoops: /usr/sbin/
abrt-addon-vmcore: /usr/sbin/
abrt-dbus: /usr/sbin/
abrt: /usr/sbin/
alsa-utils: /usr/sbin/
aoetools: /usr/sbin/
at: /usr/sbin/
authconfig: /usr/sbin/
avahi-autoipd: /usr/sbin/


The above --queryformat iterates over the array macro %{FILENAMES} via the [...] notation, printing the name (%{NAME}) of the package they're contained in, along with their full installed path.

$ rpm -q --queryformat '[%{NAME}: %{FILENAMES}\n]' fatrace
fatrace: /usr/sbin/fatrace
fatrace: /usr/sbin/power-usage-report
fatrace: /usr/share/doc/fatrace-0.5
fatrace: /usr/share/doc/fatrace-0.5/COPYING
fatrace: /usr/share/doc/fatrace-0.5/NEWS
fatrace: /usr/share/man/man1/fatrace.1.gz

With this type of output we simply need to chop off the trailing filenames from the above paths. For this I used sed. I then run the output through sort -u to condense any duplicate lines since often times, many packages will install a multitude of files into a single directory. Finally I use grep ... to find the packages which have files in a given directory. To facilitate this further you could do this:

grep $(pwd)
$ pwd

$ rpm -qa --queryformat '[%{NAME}: %{FILENAMES}\n]' | \
    sed 's#\(/.*/\).*$#\1#' | sort -u | grep $(pwd)

A list of just package names

To get just the names of the packages in a unique list you can do the following:

$ rpm -qa --queryformat '[%{NAME}: %{FILENAMES}\n]' | \
    sed 's#\(/.*/\).*$#\1#' | sort -u | grep $(pwd) | \
    awk -F: '{print $1}' | head -10


  • Thanks a lot, it appeared to be rather convoluted when I first saw the command but I understand it now. I had to add a | uniq in the end not to repeat package names in your last suggestion. – Carlos Nov 21 '14 at 19:27
  • @Carlos - hmmm, the sort -u should have collapsed the list. – slm Nov 21 '14 at 20:04
  • 1
    It works fine as long as there are just one file per package in the directory, I just realized that moving the | sort -u part to after the call to awk is enough to output package names without repeated occurrences. – Carlos Nov 21 '14 at 20:56

I'd like to know which packages have files within /usr/share/applications

You can query for what package owns a particular file by doing a rpm -qf <absoluteFilePath>. To do an entire directory tree you can use the find command and filter the output.

For example:

[root@xxx01 ~]# find /usr/share/applications -type f -exec rpm -qf {} \; | grep -v "is not owned by any package" | sort | uniq 
[root@xxx01 ~]#

I saw no option to list contents of a single package however.

This is a slightly different option with rpm. For example to list what files are in the firefox package:

[root@xxx01 ~]# rpm -ql firefox
... snip ...
  • Thanks that was enlightening, I though only yum was used for packaging but it appears to be a frontend mostly. Your solution to the problem relies on the files being present in the system: if you delete the files of a package it wouldn't tell you that the package has files in that directory. – Carlos Nov 21 '14 at 19:29
  • Ah well you used the present tense in your post so I had assumed you were trying to assess the impact of some operation or something. Either way, there you go. – Bratchley Nov 21 '14 at 21:38

To see what package provides a particular file or directory you can use yum provides <file>:

$ yum provides /usr/share/applications/*
Loaded plugins: fastestmirror, langpacks
Loading mirror speeds from cached hostfile
 * fedora: mirrors.ircam.fr
 * rpmfusion-free-rawhide: mirrors.coreix.net
 * rpmfusion-nonfree-rawhide: mirrors.coreix.net
 * updates: ftp.uni-koeln.de
abrt-gui-2.3.0-3.fc21.x86_64 : abrt's gui
Repo        : fedora
Matched from:
Filename    : /usr/share/applications/abrt-applet.desktop

alacarte-3.11.91-2.fc21.noarch : Menu editor for the GNOME desktop
Repo        : fedora
Matched from:
Filename    : /usr/share/applications/alacarte.desktop

and it goes on and on. Pipe it to less to read it.

To list the files in a package, simply use rpm -ql <package>

$ rpm -ql less
  • Thanks for the answer, although whatprovides wouldn't be enough if the files were non present (e.g. if they were deleted). Thanks for the rpm command as well, I was just using yum. – Carlos Nov 21 '14 at 19:35
  • I beg to differ - yum provides | whatprovides even works to find a package for a known, but uninstalled, file/directory. For example, yum provides /usr/share/doc/lshw will show that this is part of the lshw package even if it hasn't ever been installed. – garethTheRed Nov 21 '14 at 19:58

The answer slm is almost correct, maybe it's outdated. The best script I have is the following:

rpm -qa --queryformat '[%{=NAME}: %{FILENAMES}\n]' | grep ' /var' |  cut -d: -f 1 | uniq

Notices that the meat of this is almost like the one above, the '=' make the NAME an iterator also.

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