Linux 101: Installing programs on your Cobalt Qube and RaQ

So, you've just purchased a Qube or RaQ from Cobalt, and you want to add a few programs. But what in the world are .pkg files? And how do you use them to install programs? Ed Engelking explains.

Have you ever heard of a .pkg file? If you’re using the Cobalt Qube or RaQ, you should know this extension by heart! The .pkg file allows administrators to add programs to the Qube and RaQ, and I’m going to explain exactly how to do it.

What is a .pkg file, anyhow?
A .pkg file is nothing more than a compressed tar archive that contains the following:
  • A package title and install flags (packing_list)
  • A packing list (packing_list)
  • An install shell script (upgrade_me)
  • An uninstall script (uninstall_me)
  • RPM files—yes, it’s based on Red Hat
If you’re interested in looking at the architecture of this kind of file, visit Cobalt Networks and download a sample .pkg onto your Linux-based machine. Decompress the file by issuing tar -zxvf name.pkg.
Now that I have a .pkg file, how do I install it?
Installing a .pkg file is a very simple process. All that you need is administrative access to the Web interface of the Qube or RaQ. Now, just follow the instructions below.

For this example, we’ll install a security patch for the Qube 2. You must type the IP of the cube so that you can access it. It will ask you for your username and password. After you log in as admin, you need to access the Administrator Site. Then, select the Maintenance tab on the left-hand side of the screen. You should see an Install Software button at the top of the screen, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A
You should see the Install Software button, which is circled in red here.

When you click Install Software, a screen like the one shown in Figure B will appear and will ask which file you wish to install. Click Browse to find a file on your machine. Then, when you’ve selected the file that you want to install, click OK. Now, you’ll need to type the admin password in order to continue.

Figure B
This screen allows you to load a .pkg file into the Qube.

At the bottom of your screen, a note will appear, as shown in Figure C. It will inform you that the .pkg file is uploading from your machine to the Qube and that it’s in the process of installing.

Figure C
A progress indicator will explain what’s happening with the installation.

The progress bar will disappear when the .pkg file has been installed successfully. The Install Software screen will be updated, too. In the Software on the Cobalt Server table, you’ll see the name of the .pkg file that was just installed. Congratulations! You’ve just loaded software into the Cobalt Qube.
You can find out more information about the Cobalt Qube and RaQ by visiting Cobalt Networks.

Ed Engelking is a Web editor at TechRepublic. He is also the co-owner of

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