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The Ports System


What is a Port?

A port is a directory containing the files needed for building a package using pkgmk. This means that this directory at least has the files Pkgfile (which is the package build description) and .footprint (which is used for regression testing and contains a list of files this package is expected to contain once it is built). Further, a port directory can contain patches and/or other files needed for building the package. It is important to understand that the actual source code for the package is not necessarily present in port directory. Instead the Pkgfile contains an URL which points to a location where the source can be downloaded.

The use of the word port in this context is borrowed from the BSD world, where a port refers to a program that has been ported to a system or platform. The word can sometimes be a bit misleading since most programs require no actual porting to run on CRUX (or on Linux in general).

What is the Ports System?

The term Ports System refers to a remote repository containing ports and a client program capable of downloading ports from that repository. The administrator of a CRUX system runs the ports(8) bash script to download ports from the remote repository and place them in /usr/ports/. The ports script uses rsync(1) or httpup(1) or git(1) to do the actual downloading/synchronization.

Port collections

CRUX ports are organized in so-called 'collections'. There are three different layers of ports:

The official collections 'core', 'opt', 'xorg' and 'compat-32'

core, opt, xorg and compat-32 are the four primary collections of CRUX. They're maintained by the CRUX development team which ensures that they're consistent and working well together. The first three are enabled by default. The compat-32 collection is disabled by default and contains 32-bit compatibility ports.

The user contributed collection 'contrib'

The contrib collection is a collection which is provided by experienced port maintainers: some are part of the CRUX development team, while others are regular users. Its goal is to reduce the number of duplicate ports provided in the individual collections. If you're a seasoned port maintainer, you might even want to join the contrib team.

As those ports are not provided officially by the CRUX development team, this collection is disabled by default.

The individual collections from CRUX users

Using HttpUp or git, every user can publish his or her own ports easily; the only requirement for that is some webspace to upload the ports. Maintaining an HttpUp repository of ports, which you've tested and gotten successfully running, is a simple way to contribute back to the CRUX community.

Using the Ports System

Synchronizing Your Local Ports Structure

When CRUX is installed for the first time the local ports structure (/usr/ports/) is empty. To bring your local ports structure up to date you use the ports utility with the -u option. Example:

 $ ports -u

The -u option means update, and tells ports to contact the ports repository and download new and updated ports. The output from this execution is something like this:

 Updating file list from
 Updating collection ports/crux-3.7/core/
 Updating file list from
 Updating collection ports/crux-3.7/opt/
 Updating file list from
 Updating collection ports/crux-3.7/xorg/
 Finished successfully

The output reveals which files are downloaded, updated and deleted.

Listing Local Ports

When the local ports structure has been updated the directory /usr/ports/ will contain at least two collections, core and opt. Under each of these directories you will find ports. You can simply browse around in the directory structure to find out which ports are available.

 $ cd /usr/ports/core/
 $ ls

 acl/			httpup/			nftables/
 attr/			iana-etc/		ninja/
 autoconf/		inetutils/		openssh/
 automake/		iproute2/		openssl/
 bash/			iptables/		patch/
 bc/			jansson/		pciutils/
 binutils/		jsoncpp/		perl/
 bison/			kbd/			pkgconf/
 bzip2/			kmod/			pkgutils/
 ca-certificates/	less/			ports/
 cmake/			libarchive/		procps/
 coreutils/		libcap/			prt-get/
 cpio/			libdevmapper/		psmisc/
 curl/			libedit/		python3/
 dash/			libffi/			python3-setuptools/
 db/			libgmp/			rc/
 dcron/			libmnl/			rdate/
 dhcpcd/		libmpc/			readline/
 diffutils/		libmpfr/		rhash/
 dumb_runtime_dir/	libnftnl/		rsync/
 e2fsprogs/		libnghttp2/		sed/
 ed/			libnsl/			shadow/
 elfutils/		libpcre/		signify/
 eudev/			libpcre2/		sqlite3/
 exim/			libpipeline/		start-stop-daemon/
 expat/			libtirpc/		sudo/
 file/			libtool/		sysfsutils/
 filesystem/		libusb/			sysklogd/
 findutils/		libuv/			sysvinit/
 flex/			linux-pam/		tar/
 gawk/			lzlib/			time/
 gcc/			lzo/			tzdata/
 gdbm/			m4/			usbutils/
 gettext/		make/			util-linux/
 glibc/			man-db/			vim/
 glibc-32/		man-pages/		which/
 gperf/			meson/			xz/
 grep/			mlocate/		zlib/
 groff/			mpdecimal/		zstd/
 gzip/			nasm/
 hdparm/		ncurses/

You can also use ports with the -l option to list all local ports. Example:

 $ ports -l

If you are looking for a specific package, a command like ports -l | grep sendmail provides a straightforward way to find out if the package is available and if so in which collection it is located. More complicated searches (eg., based on footprint, description, or maintainer) can be performed using prt-get.

Listing Version Differences

To find out if the ports structure carries ports that are different (likely newer) compared to the versions currently installed, you can use the option -d. If differences are found (in either 'version' or 'release'), the output from the above command could look something like this:

 $ ports -d
 Collection  Name     Port      Installed
 contrib     pipewire 0.3.56-1  0.3.55-1
 xorg        mesa     22.1.5-1  22.1.4-1

If no version differences were found, i.e. the system is in sync with the ports structure, the output will simply be:

 $ ports -d
 No differences found

Building and Installing Packages

Once you have found a port that you want to build and install you simply go into the desired port directory and use pkgmk to build it. Example:

 $ cd /usr/ports/core/gawk
 $ pkgmk -d

The -d option means download missing source files and tells pkgmk to download the source(s) specified in the Pkgfile (in case the source is already downloaded, this option is ignored). When the download is completed the package will be built. If the package was built successfully you can use pkgadd to install or upgrade it. Example:

 $ pkgadd gawk#3.1.5-3.pkg.tar.gz

To make life a bit easier these two steps can be made into one by using the options -i (for install) or -u (for upgrade). Example:

 $ pkgmk -d -i


 $ pkgmk -d -u

This will download, build and then install/upgrade the package. Note that the package will only be installed/upgraded if the build is successful.


If you enable building ports as an unprivileged user and give that user write permissions on the directories for pkgmk {sources, work, packages}, the unprivileged user will be able to create a package but not to exercise the -i and -u options of pkgmk. There are forks of pkgmk that automatically invoke sudo or doas when performing the pkgadd step, but these forks are not part of the official CRUX utilities at this time.

Enabling the 'contrib' collection

As previously mentioned, the 'contrib' collection contains useful ports of experienced port maintainers. Since they are not provided by the CRUX development team, you should be slightly more critical with respect to quality and security. However, members with write permissions for 'contrib' are usually well-known and active in the CRUX community.

To enable the 'contrib' collection so that ports -u will bring it up to date, just rename its rsync file.

$ cd /etc/ports
$ mv contrib.rsync.inactive contrib.rsync

You will probably also want to let prt-get know about the newly-enabled 'contrib' tree. This can be done by editing /etc/prt-get.conf and uncommenting the line prtdir /usr/ports/contrib (i.e. remove the hashmark in the beginning of the line). After that, it should look like this:

### prt-get conf

# note: the order matters: the package found first is used
prtdir /usr/ports/core
prtdir /usr/ports/opt

# the following line enables the user maintained contrib collection
prtdir /usr/ports/contrib

Now, run ports -u and you're ready to use the ports from contrib.

Enabling the 'compat-32' collection

The 'compat-32' collection contains compatibility ports needed for 32-bit support (32-bit applications running on a 64-bit multilib system).

To enable it for ports, do

$ cd /etc/ports
$ mv compat-32.rsync.inactive compat-32.rsync

The 'compat-32' collection is enabled in the same way as the 'contrib' collection (described previously) for usage with prt-get.

As with 'contrib', run ports -u and you're ready to use the ports from compat-32.

Additional tools

Building ports as unprivileged user

Building packages requires root privileges in order to create files with the correct owner and group. This is a security concern because a malicious or badly designed port can run arbitrary commands when its Pkgfile is sourced by the shell. The fakeroot command provides a way to build ports as normal user. Particularly when you build packages from user contributed repositories you are advised to use fakeroot:

$ fakeroot pkgmk -d

Useful scripts

Regarding package and ports management there are many tasks which can be done in several steps with the CRUX standard tools introduced above. The opt repository contains a port called prt-utils with many such scripts. Other combinations of low-level tools, using UNIX pipes, command substitution, and text processing utilities, can be found in the bug tracker, the mailing list, and IRC logs. Efforts are underway to bring this diaspora of institutional knowledge into a central place, such as the EXAMPLES section of the most relevant man page.