Different Linux distributions use their own tools for software, or more precisely, package management. As an example, Ubuntu uses its Synaptic, Fedora uses Yum, Gentoo uses Portage, and OpenSUSE uses YaST.
YaST stands for “Yet another Setup Tool”. YaST is an easy to use package management system for Linux distributions that support rpm based packages. Although YaST features in many commercial Linux distributions, it is free and open source software released under GPL. Therefore, it is free to be used by any party interested.
YaST features many functionality the advanced package management tools offer. Let’s take the appearance as an example. YaST offers the end users both a GUI front-end as well as CLI front-end. The CLI front-end is especially useful for the installation done through networks where everything is performed through a terminal or a command line interface. Due to this support, the installation of OpenSUSE systems can be done over slow Internet connections and while the X server is not present in the system (such as a server installation).
YaST is a kind of pick-and-choose package management tools for Linux. If you take package management tools of some other Linux distributions, user may get easily confused due to the issues in usability. Sometimes, all the original package names that sound geeky are listed for the user to pick. Without a good knowledge in Linux packages, an ordinary user will not be able to make any use of this. Therefore, the designers of YaST have taken all these considerations into account when designing this tool. In order to enhance the usability of the tool, OpenSUSE periodically redesign YaST to suit the latest trends and standards. As an example, YaST has been redesigned for Gnome users in OpenSUSE 10.3 release.
With the latest functionality enhancements, YaST offers what Ubuntu offers in Synaptic; the ability to add community repositories into the software management system. Until this feature was added, OpenSUSE users had to download (through YaST) packages only offered by OpenSUSE software repositories. With the new addition, users have much freedom to choose and install what they want. In addition, this gives OpenSUSE a competitive position compared to other mainstream Linux distributions.
Although there are a few hundreds of Linux distributions available, not all of them offer the best package management systems. Some offers package management systems that are primary and some others just borrow a package management system from another distribution. Automatic software maintenance is one of the features offered by advanced package management systems. Using such system, system administrators can easily install software and operating systems to multiple computers at once. Auto YaST is the tools offers by YaST for this purpose. A company running OpenSUSE computers can be automatically updated simultaneously and automatically. This is definitely a breeze for busy system administrators.
YaST also features a detail error handling system. As an example, most of the software or package management systems do not offer a comprehensive error details to the end user. As a result of this, average users have to spend a lot of time on the Internet searching for relevant information. With YaST, the story is quite different. YaST offers error details in a form where the average Linux users can understand. This way, users can troubleshoot the issues with YaST without going after external help and without wasting much time.
Above are some of the prominent features and advantages of using YaST in OpenSUSE distribution. If you are interested, you can optionally opt to another software / package management system such as Yum, which also works on rpm based system.