Build a RPM package using CMake

Some while ago I presented a way to package projects using different build systems as RPM packages. If you are using CMake for your projects you can use CPack to build RPM packages (in addition to tarballs, NSIS installers, deb packages and so on). This is a really nice option for deployment of your own projects because installation and update can be easily done by the users using familiar package management tools like zypper, yum and yast2.

Your first CPack RPM

It is really easy to add RPM using CPack to your existing project. Just set the mandatory CPack variables and include CPack below the variable definitions, usually as one of the last steps:

project (my_project)
cmake_minimum_required (VERSION 2.8)

set(VERSION "1.0.1")
<----snip your usual build instructions snip--->
set(CPACK_PACKAGE_NAME "my_project")
set(CPACK_PACKAGE_CONTACT "John Explainer")

These few lines should be enough to get you going. After that you can execute a make package command should obtain the RPM package.

Spicing up the package

RPM packages can contain much more metadata and especially package dependencies and a version changelog. Most of the stuff can be specified using CPACK variables. We sometimes prefer to use a SPEC file template to be filled and used by CPack because it then contains most of the RPM specific stuff in a familiar manner instead of polluting the CMakeLists.txt itself:

project (my_project)
<----snip your usual CMake stuff snip--->
<----snip your additional CPack variables snip--->

The variables in the RPM SPEC file will be replaced by the values provided in the CMakeLists.txt and then be used for the RPM package. It looks very similar to a standard SPEC file but you can omit the usual build instructions boiling down to something like this:

Summary:        My very cool Project
Name:           @CPACK_PACKAGE_NAME@
License:        GPL
Group:          Development/Tools/Other
Vendor:         @CPACK_PACKAGE_VENDOR@
Requires:       opencv >= 2.4

%define _rpmdir @CMAKE_CURRENT_BINARY_DIR@/_CPack_Packages/Linux/RPM
%define _rpmfilename @CPACK_PACKAGE_FILE_NAME@.rpm
%define _unpackaged_files_terminate_build 0
%define _topdir @CMAKE_CURRENT_BINARY_DIR@/_CPack_Packages/Linux/RPM

Cool project solving the problems of many colleagues.

# This is a shortcutted spec file generated by CMake RPM generator
# we skip _install step because CPack does that for us.
# We do only save CPack installed tree in _prepr
# and then restore it in build.

if [ -e $RPM_BUILD_ROOT ];


* Tue Jan 29 2013 John Explainer <> 1.0.1-3
- use correct maintainer address
* Tue Jan 29 2013 John Explainer <> 1.0.1-2
- fix something about the package
* Thu Jan 24 2013 John Explainer <> 1.0.1-1
- important bugfixes
* Fri Nov 16 2012 John Explainer <> 1.0.0-1
- first release


Integrating RPM (or other package formats) to your CMake-based build is not as hard as it seems and quite flexible. You do not need to rely on the tools provided by your OS vendor and still deliver your software in a way your users are accustomed to. This makes CPack very continuous integration (CI) friendly too!

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2 Responses to Build a RPM package using CMake

  1. [...] one of my previous posts we learned how to build and package our projects as RPM packages. How do we get our shiny packages [...]

  2. [...] previous post my colleague showed how to create RPM packages with CMake. As a really versatile tool it is also [...]

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