[pacman-dev] makepkg in a constrained environment

Ciprian Dorin, Craciun ciprian.craciun at gmail.com
Wed Dec 2 06:01:38 EST 2009

    Hello all!

    For some time I was struggling in creating (for myself) a
"sterile" environment for package building purposes. (I want to build
some custom packages for a custom lightweight distribution.) And in
what follows I would like to share my experience with pacman / makepkg
developers in such a "sterile" environment.

    By "sterile" I mean the following:
    * clean, uncontaminated packages: freshly installed by pacman from
a repository without my intervention; (if I would use my ArchLinux
installation, some packages (compiler, libraries, etc.) would be
configured to my like, and thus it could create a non-repeatable
    * minimal package installation base: only the packages that have
been clearly declared as dependencies in PKGBUILD should be installed
(of course with their dependencies);
    * I need the assurance that configure and make scripts of
different packages pick up the right build tool-chains (for example
for cross-compiling);

    As such, I've decided of the following:
    * prepare a UML (User Mode Linux) kernel, that shall provide me
with a clean build Linux environment; (this could of course be
replaced with a Vserver instance;)
    * prepare a (static linked) BusyBox with all the tools built in;
(this shall be installed outside of the normal PATH, to be sure it's
not picked up by the configure and make scripts;)
    * prepare a (static linked) Bash (installed outside the normal PATH);
    * when running makepkg, I'll set the
    * but when inside the PKGBUILD I'll reset the

    Now my experiences with makepkg in such an environment:
    * it seems it works without too much fuss with the commands
provided by busybox, except;
    * if one has declared of using only MD5 sums (most of the packages
do this), it insists on using `openssl dgst` to create them;
    * it insists on using file tool to identify the file type;
    * it insists on using bsdtar to untar the tar archives;
    * it breaks if it's not able to chown the source tree; (this
happens as inside UML I'm root, but outside UML the file system is
owned by a normal user (the root filesystem of UML is exported by
using hostfs));

    So, as you can see nothing that can't be solved with some minor corrections.

    As such, if the community is interested I could provide some
patches that allow makepkg to:
    * use md5sum instead of openssl for MD5 checksums;
    * use normal tar if bsdtar is not available;
    * base the file-type decision on file (if available), or on
extension (if file is not available);
    * ignore errors for chown of source tree; (of course with a warning;)
    * provide a way to customize the path of the pacman tool; (maybe
this has already been done);

    Also it would be nice (though painful) to allow the customization
of paths for all external (non Bash functions) tools. For example:
instead of calling mv, one should call "$mv", which should default to
mv="${MV:-$( which mv )}" (that is if the variable MV is not defined
then fallback on using the mv tool found in the PATH).

    So would the developers be interested in such patches?

    Any comments? Any ideas?


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