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PORTS(7) Miscellaneous Information Manual PORTS(7)

portscontributed applications

The OpenBSD Ports Collection is the infrastructure used to create binary packages for third party applications.

For normal usage refer to packages(7), as most ports produce binary packages which are available from the official HTTP mirrors.

Each port contains any patches necessary to make the original application source code compile and run on OpenBSD. Compiling an application is as simple as typing make in the port directory! The Makefile automatically fetches the application source code, either from a local disk or via HTTP, unpacks it on the local system, applies the patches, and compiles it. If all goes well, simply type doas make install to install the application.

For more information about using ports, see Working with Ports. For information about creating new ports, see The OpenBSD Porter's Handbook.

For a detailed description of the build process, see

The ports master Makefile, normally located in /usr/ports/Makefile (but see PORTSDIR below) offers a few useful targets.

display the contents of the index in a user-friendly way,
invoked with a key, e.g., make search key=foo, retrieve information relevant to a given port (obsolescent).

Starting in OpenBSD 4.0, there is a port, databases/sqlports that builds an sqlite database containing most information relevant to every port in the ports tree. This database can be searched using any tool able to manipulate such databases, for instance sqlitebrowser, or a script language with an sqlite interface, e.g., perl, python, ocaml, lua, php.

All static index generating information has now been superseded by the sqlports, portslist or pkglocatedb packages, which contain similar information to the old INDEX file, but are more frequently updated.

One can define SUBDIRLIST to point to a file that contains a list of FULLPKGPATHs, one per line, to build stuff only in some directories.

If portslist is up to date, it is possible to select subsets by setting the following variables on the command line:

package name matching the given key,
port belonging to category,
port maintained by a given person.

For instance, to invoke clean on all ports in the x11 category, one can say:

$ make category=x11 clean

The index search is done by a perl script, so all regular expressions from perlre(1) apply.

Individual ports are controlled through a few documented targets. Some of these targets work recursively through subdirectories, so that someone can, for example, install all of the net ports.

The variable SKIPDIR can hold a set of package directories to avoid during recursion. These are always specified relative to the root of the ports tree, and can contain a flavor or subpackage part (see packages-specs(7)). SKIPDIR is handled by a case statement, and so can contain simple wildcards (see sh(1) “File name patterns”), e.g., SKIPDIR='editors/openoffice*'.

The variable STARTDIR can hold the path to a starting directory. The recursion will skip all directories up to that package path. This can be used to resume a full build at some specific point without having to go through thousands of directories first.

The variable STARTAFTER can hold the path to a starting directory. The recursion will skip all directories up to and including that package path. This can be used to resume a full build after some specific point without having to go through thousands of directories first.

In case of failure in a subdirectory, the shell fragment held in REPORT_PROBLEM is executed. Default behavior is to call exit, but this can be overridden on the command line, e.g., to avoid stopping after each problem.

$ make REPORT_PROBLEM=true

If REPORT_PROBLEM_LOGFILE is non empty, then REPORT_PROBLEM will default to:

echo $$subdir ($@) >>$${REPORT_PROBLEM_LOGFILE}

That is, any failure will append the faulty directory name together with the target that failed to ${REPORT_PROBLEM_LOGFILE} and proceed.

Some targets that do this are all, build, checksum, clean, configure, extract, fake, fetch, install, distclean, deinstall, reinstall, package, prepare, link-categories, unlink-categories, describe, show, regress, lib-depends-check, homepage-links, manpages-check, license-check, all-dir-depends, build-dir-depends, run-dir-depends and readmes.

Target names starting with ‘_’ are private to the ports infrastructure, should not be invoked directly, and are liable to change without notice.

In the following list, each target will run the preceding targets in order automatically. That is, build will be run (if necessary) by install, and so on all the way to fetch. In typical use, one will only run install explicitly (as normal user, with SUDO defined in /etc/mk.conf), or build (as user), then install (as root).

Fetch all of the files needed to build this port from the site(s) listed in MASTER_SITES. See FETCH_CMD. Use dpb(1) with option -F to quickly fetch distfiles for a subtree.
Verify that the fetched distfile matches the one the port was tested against. Defining NO_CHECKSUM to Yes will skip this step. Sometimes, distfiles change without warning. The main OpenBSD mirror should still hold a copy of old distfiles, indexed by checksum. Using
$ make checksum REFETCH=true

will try to get a set of distfiles that match the recorded checksum.

Install any build dependencies of the current port. Defining NO_DEPENDS to Yes will skip this step.
Expand the distfile into a work directory.
Apply any patches that are necessary for the port.
Recreate configure machinery if needed, mainly used by GNU based software that wants autogen/autoconf/automake.
Configure the port. Some ports will ask questions during this stage. See INTERACTIVE and BATCH.
Build the port. This is the same as calling the all target.
Pretend to install the port under a subdirectory of the work directory.
Create READMEs and rc scripts under the fake subdirectory.
Create a binary package from the fake installation. The package is a .tgz file that can be used to install the port with pkg_add(1).
Install the resulting package.

The following targets are not run during the normal install process (exception clean is run for dependencies with the default settings of BULK=Auto).

Print an ordered list of all the compile and run dependencies.
Remove the expanded source code. This does not recurse to dependencies unless CLEANDEPENDS is defined to Yes.
Remove the port's distfile(s). This does not recurse to dependencies.
Runs the ports regression tests. Usually needs a completed build.
Use this to restore a port after using pkg_delete(1).
Alternative target to install. Does not install new packages, but updates existing ones.
Populate the ports tree with symbolic links for each category the port belongs to.
Remove the symbolic links created by link-categories.
creates an html list of links for each port HOMEPAGE.

The ports tree can be used concurrently for building several ports at the same time, thanks to a locking mechanism. By default, locks are stored under /tmp/portslocks. Defining LOCKDIR will point them elsewhere, or disable the mechanism if set to an empty value.

All locks will be stored in ${LOCKDIR}. LOCK_CMD should be used to acquire a lock, and UNLOCK_CMD should be used to release it.

Locks are named ${LOCKDIR}/${FULLPKGNAME}.lock, or ${LOCKDIR}/${DISTFILE}.lock for distfiles fetching.

The default values of LOCK_CMD and UNLOCK_CMD are appropriate for most uses.

The locking protocol follows a big-lock model: each top-level target in a port directory will acquire the corresponding lock, complete its job, then release the lock, e.g., running

$ make build

will acquire the lock, run the port through fetch, checksum, extract, patch, configure, build, then release the lock. If dependencies are involved, they will invoke top-level targets in other directories, and thus acquire some other locks as well.

The infrastructure contains some protection against acquiring the same lock twice, thus recursive locking is not needed for LOCK_CMD.

Starting with OpenBSD 4.3, the infrastructure supports manual locking: the targets lock and unlock can be used to acquire and release individual locks. Both these targets output a shell command that must be used to update environment variables. Manual locking can be used to protect a directory against interference by an automated build job, while the user is looking at or modifying a given port.

Instead of deinstalling each package and rebuilding from scratch, the ports tree can be used to update installed packages. The update target will replace an installed package using pkg_add(1) in replacement mode. If FORCE_UPDATE is set to Yes, dependencies will also be updated first, and packages will always be updated, even if there is no difference between the old and the new packages.

Updates use a mechanism similar to bulk cookies and deposit cookies in the UPDATE_COOKIES_DIR. See the next section for more details, since most of the fine points of bulk package building also apply to updates.

There are bugs in the ports tree, most related to libtool, which make some updates prefer the already installed libraries instead of the newly built ones. This shows up as undefined references in libraries, in which case there is no choice but to proceed the old way: deinstall the offending package and everything built on top of it, build and install new packages.

Building any significant number of packages from the ports tree should use dpb(1), a tool located inside the ports tree proper (normally as /usr/ports/infrastructure/bin/dpb). In particular, it can take advantage of machine clusters (same architecture and same installation), and of multi-core machines.

For more detailed information, see bulk(8).

The OpenBSD ports tree comes with a mechanism called FLAVORS. Thanks to this mechanism, users can select specific options provided by a given port.

If a port is "flavored", there should be a terse description of available flavors in the pkg/DESCR file.

For example, the misc/screen port comes with a flavor called static. This changes the building process so a statically compiled version of the program will be built. To avoid confusion with other packages or flavors, the package name will be extended with a dash-separated list of the selected flavors.

In this instance, the corresponding package will be called screen-4.0.2-static.

To see the flavors of a port, use the show target:

$ make show=FLAVORS

To build a port with a specific flavor, just pass FLAVOR in the environment of the make(1) command:

$ env FLAVOR="static" make package

and of course, use the same settings for the subsequent invocations of make:

$ env FLAVOR="static" make install
$ env FLAVOR="static" make clean

More than one flavor may be specified:

$ cd /usr/ports/mail/exim
$ env FLAVOR="mysql ldap" make package

Specifying a flavor that does not exist is an error. Additionally, some ports impose some further restrictions on flavor combinations, when such combinations do not make sense.

Lots of ports can be built without X11 requirement and accordingly have a no_x11 flavor.

Flavor settings are not propagated to dependencies. If a specific combination is needed, careful hand-building of the required set of packages is still necessary.

The OpenBSD ports tree comes with a mechanism called MULTI_PACKAGES. This mechanism is used when a larger package is broken down into several smaller components referred to as subpackages.

If a port is "subpackaged", each subpackage will have a corresponding description in the pkg/DESCR-subpackage file.

For example, the databases/mariadb port comes with subpackages called -main, -tests and -server.

In this instance, the build will yield multiple packages, one corresponding to each subpackage. In the case of our mariadb example, the packages will be called mariadb-client-<version>, mariadb-tests-<version>, and mariadb-server-<version>.

To install/deinstall a specific subpackage of a port, you may pkg_add(1) them manually, or alternatively, you may set SUBPACKAGE in the environment of the make(1) command during the install/deinstall phase:

$ env SUBPACKAGE="-server" make install
$ env SUBPACKAGE="-server" make deinstall

These can be changed in the environment, or in /etc/mk.conf for persistence. They can also be set on make's command line, e.g., make VAR_FOO=foo

Boolean variables should be set to Yes instead of simply being defined, for uniformity and future compatibility.

Variable names starting with ‘_’ are private to the ports infrastructure, should not be changed by the user, and are liable to change without notice.

If set to ‘Yes’, all operations will happen as restricted users _pfetch and _pbuild.
Location of the ports tree (usually /usr/ports).
Where to find/put distfiles, normally ${PORTSDIR}/distfiles.
Used only for the package target; the base directory for the packages tree, normally ${PORTSDIR}/packages. If this directory exists, the package tree will be (partially) constructed.
During bulk package building, used to store cookies for already built packages to avoid rebuilding them, since the actual working directory will already have been cleaned out. Defaults to ${PORTSDIR}/bulk/${MACHINE_ARCH}.
Used to store cookies for package updates, defaults to ${PORTSDIR}/update/${MACHINE_ARCH}. If set to empty, it will revert to a file under ${WRKDIR}.
Where to install things in general (usually /usr/local).
Primary sites for distribution files if not found locally.
If set to Yes, let clean recurse to dependencies.
Command to use to fetch files. Normally ftp(1).
If set, try to use as options to pkg_add(1) to install missing packages from PKG_PATH. does not set FETCH_PACKAGES, so even an empty value amounts to setting the variable.

For instance, to run pkg_add(1) with default options :


or, to use the snapshots directory during the final beta period:

If defined, display verbose output when applying each patch.
If defined, only operate on a port if it requires interaction.
If defined, only operate on a port if it can be installed 100% automatically.

Select read-write partition(s) that can accommodate working directories, the distfiles repository, and the built packages. Set WRKOBJDIR, PACKAGE_REPOSITORY, BULK_COOKIES_DIR, UPDATE_COOKIES_DIR, DISTDIR, and PLIST_REPOSITORY in /etc/mk.conf accordingly.

The default ports directory.
Ports master Makefile.
Ports index, part of the portlist package.
Build directories. A number of insecurely coded ports require a dedicated file system with the wxallowed mount(8) option.
The ports main engine.
Network configuration.
List of users and groups created by ports.

dpb(1), make(1), pkg_add(1), pkg_create(1), pkg_delete(1), pkg_info(1),, port-modules(5), mirroring-ports(7), packages(7)

The OpenBSD Ports System:

The OpenBSD Porter's Handbook:

The Ports Collection appeared in FreeBSD 1.0. It was introduced in OpenBSD by Ejovi Nuwere, with much initial effort by Angelos D. Keromytis. Maintenance passed then to Marco S. Hyman, and then to Christopher Turan. It is currently managed by Marc Espie, Christian Weisgerber, along with a host of others found at

This man page was originated by David O'Brien, from the FreeBSD project.

April 28, 2020 OpenBSD-7.0