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The Package System


The package system (pkgutils) is made with simplicity in mind, where all packages are plain tar.gz files (i.e. without any kind of meta data).

Packages follow the naming convention <name>#<version>-<release>.pkg.tar.gz, where <name> is the name of the program, <version> is the version number of the program, and <release> is the version number of the package.
The pkg.tar.gz extension is used (instead of just tar.gz) to indicate that this is not just any tar.gz file, but a tar.gz that is meant to be installed using pkgadd. This way it is easy to tell packages apart from other tar.gz files.

pkgadd(8), pkgrm(8), pkginfo(8), and pkgmk(8) are the package management utilities. With these utilities you can install, uninstall, inspect, make packages and query the package database.

When a package is installed using pkgadd a new record is added to the package database (stored in /var/lib/pkg/db). The basic package system does not have any kind of dependency checking, thus it will not warn you if you install a package that requires other packages to be installed. The included prt-get tool, however, does support dependencies.

The following sections will in short describe how to use the package utilities. Additional information about these utilities can be found on their respective man page.

Using the Package System

Installing a Package

Installing a package is done by using pkgadd. This utility requires at least one argument, the package you want to install. Example:

 $ pkgadd bash#2.05-1.pkg.tar.gz

When installing a package the package manager will ensure that no previously installed files are overwritten. If conflicts are found an error message will be printed and pkgadd will abort without installing the package. The error message will contain the names of the conflicting files. Example:

 $ pkgadd bash#2.05-1.pkg.tar.gz
 pkgadd error: listed file(s) already installed (use -f to ignore and overwrite)

To force the installation and overwrite the conflicting files you can use the option -f (or --force). Example:

 $ pkgadd -f bash#2.05-1.pkg.tar.gz

The package system allows a file to be owned by exactly one package. When forcing an installation the ownership of the conflicting files will be transferred to the package that is currently being installed. Directories can however be owned by more then one package.


It is often not a good idea to force the installation unless you really know what you are doing. If a package conflicts with already installed files it could be a sign that the package is broken and installs unexpected files. Use this option with extreme care, preferably not at all.

As said earlier the package file itself does not contain any meta data. Instead the package manager uses the package filename to determine the package name and version. Thus, when installing a package file named bash#2.05-1.pkg.tar.gz the package manager will interpret this as a package named bash at version 2.05-1. If pkgadd is unable to interpret the filename (e.g. # is missing or the filename does not end with .pkg.tar.gz) an error message will be printed and pkgadd will abort without installing the package.

Upgrading a Package

Upgrading a package is done using pkgadd with the -u option. Example:

 $ pkgadd -u bash#2.05-1.pkg.tar.gz

This will replace the previously installed bash package with the new one. If you have not previously installed bash, pkgadd will print an error message. The package system does not care about the version number of the package in that you can “upgrade” version 2.05-1 with version 2.04-1 (or even with version 2.05-1 itself). The installed package will be replaced with the specified package.

Upgrading a package is equivalent to executing pkgrm followed by pkgadd with one (big) exception. When upgrading a package (with pkgadd -u) you have the option to prevent some of the already installed files from getting replaced. This is typically useful when you want to preserve configuration and log files.

When executing pkgadd the file /etc/pkgadd.conf will be read. This file can contain rules describing how pkgadd should behave when doing upgrades. A rule is built out of three fragments; event, pattern and action. The event describes in what kind of situation this rule applies. Currently only one type of event is supported, that is UPGRADE. The pattern is a filename pattern expressed as a regular expression and the action applicable to the UPGRADE event is YES or NO. More than one rule of the same event type is allowed, in which case the first rule will have the lowest priority and the last rule will have the highest priority. Example:

 # /etc/pkgadd.conf: pkgadd(8) configuration

 UPGRADE         ^etc/.*$                NO
 UPGRADE         ^var/log/.*$            NO
 UPGRADE         ^etc/X11/.*$            YES
 UPGRADE         ^etc/X11/xorg.conf$     NO

 # End of file

The above example will cause pkgadd to never upgrade anything in /etc/ or /var/log/ (subdirectories included), except files in /etc/X11/ (subdirectories included), unless it is the file /etc/X11/xorg.conf. The default rule is to upgrade everything, rules in this file are exceptions to that rule.


A pattern should never contain an initial “/” since you are referring to the files in the package, not the files on the disk.

If pkgadd finds that a specific file should not be upgraded it will install it under /var/lib/pkg/rejected/. Files in this directory are never added to the package database. The user is then free to examine, use and/or remove that file manually. Another option is to use rejmerge. For each rejected file found in /var/lib/pkg/rejected/, rejmerge will display the difference between the installed version and the rejected version. The user can then choose to keep the installed version, upgrade to the rejected version or perform a merge of the two. Example (using the above /etc/pkgadd.conf):

 $ pkgadd -u bash#2.05-1.pkg.tar.gz
 pkgadd: rejecting etc/profile, keeping existing version
 $ ls /var/lib/pkg/rejected/
 $ ls /var/lib/pkg/rejected/etc/

Removing a Package

Removing a package is done by using pkgrm. This utility requires one argument, the name of the package you want to remove. Example:

 $ pkgrm bash


This will remove all files owned by the package, no questions asked. Think twice before doing it and make sure that you did not misspell the package name since that could remove something completely different (e.g. think about what could happen if you misspelled glib as glibc).

Querying the Package Database

Querying the package database is done using pkginfo. This utility has a few options to answer different queries.

-i, --installedList installed packages and their version.
-l, --list package|fileList files owned by the specified package or contained in file
-o, --owner patternList owner(s) of file(s) matching pattern.


 $ pkginfo -i
 audiofile 0.2.3-1
 autoconf 2.52-1
 automake 1.5-1
 xmms 1.2.7-1
 zip 2.3-1
 zlib 1.1.4-1
 $ pkginfo -l bash
 $ pkginfo -l grep#2.5-1.pkg.tar.gz
 $ pkginfo -o bin/ls
 e2fsprogs  usr/bin/lsattr
 fileutils  bin/ls
 modutils   sbin/lsmod

Package management frontend: prt-get

To address the different requirements towards package management in CRUX, a number of users started discussion about an advanced package management frontend to pkgutils, with dependency handling and support for large install transactions. The result of this community effort is prt-get, a tool which provides a number of features on top of pkgutils while keeping pkgutils' original character and power. Its main features are

Nowadays prt-get is an official project and tool of the CRUX project.

A full description can be found in the manual of prt-get.

Creating Packages

Creating a package is done using pkgmk. This utility uses a file called Pkgfile, which contains information about the package (such as name, version, etc) and the commands that should be executed in order to compile the package in question. To be more specific, the Pkgfile file is actually a bash(1) script, which defines a number of variables (name, version, release and source) and a function (build). Below is an example of what a Pkgfile file might look like. The example shows how to package the grep(1) utility. Some comments are inserted for explanation.

# Specify the name of the package.

# Specify the version of the package.

# Specify the package release.

# The source(s) used to build this package.

# The build() function below will be called by pkgmk when
# the listed source files have been unpacked.
build() {
   # The first thing we do is to cd into the source directory.
   cd $name-$version

   # Run the configure script with desired arguments.
   # In this case we want to put grep under /usr/bin and
   # disable national language support.
   ./configure --prefix=/usr --disable-nls

   # Compile.

   # Install the files, BUT do not install it under /usr, instead
   # we redirect all the files to $PKG/usr by setting the DESTDIR
   # variable. The $PKG variable points to a temporary directory
   # which will later be made into a tar.gz-file. Note that the
   # DESTDIR variable is not used by all Makefiles, some use prefix
   # and others use ROOT, etc. You have to inspect the Makefile in
   # question to find out. Some Makefiles do not support redirection
   # at all. In those cases you will have to create a patch for it.
   make DESTDIR=$PKG install

   # Remove unwanted files, in this case the info-pages.
   rm -rf $PKG/usr/info

In reality you do not include all those comments, thus the real Pkgfile for grep(1) looks like this:

# Description: GNU grep, egrep and fgrep
# URL:
# Maintainer:  Per Lidén, per at fukt dot bth dot se


build() {
  cd $name-$version
  ./configure --prefix=/usr --disable-nls
  make DESTDIR=$PKG install
  rm -rf $PKG/usr/info


The build() function in the example above is just an example of how grep is built. The contents of the function can differ significantly if the program is build in some other way, e.g. does not use autoconf.

When the build() function has been executed, the $PKG directory will be made into a package named <name>#<version>-<release>.pkg.tar.gz. Before the package creation is completed, pkgmk will check the content of the package against the .footprint file. If this file does not exist, it will be created and the test will be skipped. The .footprint file will contain a list of all files that should be in the package if the build was successful or a list of all the files that were installed in $PKG (if the .footprint did not already exist). If there is a mismatch the test will fail and an error message will be printed. You should not write the .footprint file by hand. Instead, when a package has been upgraded and you need to update the contents of the .footprint file you simply do pkgmk -uf. This test ensures that a rebuild of the package turned out as expected.

If the package built without errors it's time to install it by using pkgadd and try it out. I highly recommend looking at the Pkgfile in another package(s), since looking at examples is a great way to learn.

Package Guidelines



/usr/bin/User command/application binaries
/usr/sbin/System binaries (e.g. daemons)
/usr/include/Header files
/usr/lib/<prog>/Plug-ins, addons, etc
/usr/man/Man pages
/usr/share/<prog>/Data files
/usr/etc/<prog>/Configuration files
/etc/Configuration files for system software (daemons, etc)

Remove Junk Files


Pkgfile header

Provide a header including the following fields:

DescriptionA short description of the package; keep it factual
MaintainerYour full name and e-mail address, obfuscated if you want
PackagerThe original packager's full name and e-mail address
URLA webpage with more information on this software package
Depends onA list of dependencies, separated either by spaces or commas

Depends on can be omitted if there are no dependencies; Packager can be omitted if the maintainer and packager are the same person.

Example header

# Description: Terminal based IRC client for UNIX systems
# URL:
# Maintainer: Jukka Heino, jukka at karsikkopuu dot net
# Packager: Daniel K. Gebhart, dkg at con-fuse dot org
# Depends on: glib