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15.2. The Power of popt

Popt provides a powerful command-line processing library, allowing the rpm command to handle a variety of options in a very flexible way. You can use popt alone as a library in its own right, or use it combined with the rpm library to handle command-line options like those of the rpm command.
At its most basic, popt processes the command-line arguments to a C program, traditionally called argc and argv, into an option table that describes and contains all the option values.
The main advantage popt has over simpler libraries such as getopt lies in the ability to handle complex arguments and to define aliases. The rpm command supports three different behaviors for the –i option, depending on the context (install a package, get information on a package as part of a query, and perform the install stage of a source RPM, as part of rpmbuild).
The popt library supports both traditional UNIX short options such as –U and the longer options common for GNU programs, especially on Linux, such as --upgrade. For the popt library, you can define both short and long variants for each option. In addition, command-line options may be individual flags, such as –v for verbose, or options that expect one or more data values as arguments, such as –f, which requires a file name.

15.2.1. Popt aliases

One of the most powerful features of popt is the ability to define aliases. A popt alias allows you to define one command-line option as an alias for a set of options. As its simplest, the rpm command-line options --upgrade and –U refer to the same action. You could define one as an alias for the other.
With rpm, the file /usr/lib/rpm/rpmpopt-4.1 (for RPM version 4.1) defines over 400 lines of popt aliases to configure the rpm command-line options. For example:
Rpm alias –requires --qf \
--POPTdesc=$"list capabilities required by package(s)"
This example defines rpm --requires as really a query using the --qf or --queryformat options covered in Chapter 4, Using the RPM Database .
Cross Reference
See Chapter 20, Customizing RPM Behavior for more on defining popt aliases.