So you found out this really cool linux application and are about to download it from the web. But what happen to the *.zip and the *.exe? No such thing in Linux, instead there will be *.rpm, *.tgz and *.tar.gz. There are some others, but those above are the most widely seen.
RPM stands for RedHat Package Manager.Most of the RPMs out there are for the Red Hat systems, they should also work in Mandrake with no problems since Mandrake is based in Red Hat. RPMs usually come in binaries, which would have extension i386.rpm, or source code with extension src.rpm. The binaries are the quick and dirty approach. download, unpack and run the program. I have never really worked with the src packages since I preffer to use the tgz or tar.gz format when downloading sources.
Anyways, here is the command that will install the binaries for you. I would assume that would work the same for the source packages, although source would have to be compiled afterwards. Replace filename with the package name and at the command prompt type:
rpm -i filename.rpm
This basically will install the new package. In most cases if a package of the same name already exists, there will be a message indicating the conflict. The following command will either upgrade an installed package or perform a fresh install of the package:
rpm -Uvh filename.rpm
To upgrade an installed package but not perform a fresh install, use the following command instead:
rpm -Fvh filename.rpm
If you're not sure if you have a package installed, or not sure about which version is installed, you use the following command to query the RPM database:
rpm -q filename
If the packaged is installed it will print the package name and the version number. If the package is not installed it will tell you that, well, the package is not installed. Simple :)
To uninstall a package the following command should do it:
rpm -e filename
For help with rpm and all available options type:
rpm --help | more