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RELEASE(8) System Manager's Manual RELEASE(8)

releasebuilding an OpenBSD release

There are several steps necessary to build a release:

  1. Update sources.
  2. Build and install a new kernel.
  3. Build a new base system.
  4. Make and validate the base system release.
  5. Build and install Xenocara.
  6. Make and validate the Xenocara release.
  7. Make the third party packages.
  8. Create boot and installation disk images.

This manual describes the steps for the and branches. To build a release, additional steps may be required. See for any needed workarounds.

Commands to be run as a user are preceded by a dollar sign ‘$’. Commands that must be run as the superuser are preceded by a hash mark ‘#’. Privileges will be de-escalated to the user build whenever possible.

Most of the defaults can be overridden by setting the appropriate variables in mk.conf(5).

A release should use sources that were checked out using the same cvs(1) tag. There are two families of tags:

The sources for the OpenBSD x.y release.
The sources for the OpenBSD x.y stable branch. It contains the patches described in

See for instructions on fetching the sources for the first time.

To update existing sources to the versions identified by one of the above tags, use the commands:

$ cd /usr/src && cvs up -r TAG -Pd
$ cd /usr/xenocara && cvs up -r TAG -Pd
$ cd /usr/ports && cvs up -r TAG -Pd

Warning: cvs(1) tags are ‘sticky’. See cvs(1) for more information.

Always build and install a new kernel and reboot before building the programs that will use the kernel. This ensures that any new system calls, for example, will be present when needed.

# cd /sys/arch/$(machine)/compile/GENERIC.MP

Replace GENERIC.MP with a different kernel configuration if necessary.

Create the build directory and configuration file, then compile and install the kernel:

# make obj
# make config
# make && make install

The current kernel is copied to /obsd and the new kernel to /bsd. Reboot.

The build process will place the object files in a tree under /usr/obj. This directory must be owned by build:wobj with mode 770.

Create the tree of obj directories and begin the build:

# cd /usr/src
# make obj && make build

After the build is completed, update /etc, /var, and /dev, using sysmerge(8) and MAKEDEV(8):

# sysmerge
# cd /dev && ./MAKEDEV all

At this point, the base system is up to date with the code that will be made into a release.

The base system release consists of at least one generic kernel, some installation media, the release tarballs, installation instructions, and checksum files.

On arm64 and armv7 architectures, additional files are required. For armv7, install u-boot-arm and dtb using pkg_add(1) or from ports(7). For arm64, install raspberrypi-firmware and u-boot-aarch64.

Create a RELEASEDIR directory to store the release files. This directory must be writable by build.

To build a release, it is necessary to prepare a filesystem mounted with the mount(8) option. Either standard FFS or mount_mfs(8) may be used. The root of this filesystem must have owner build and mode 700. On this filesystem, create a DESTDIR directory. This will be the root of a complete OpenBSD installation.

Warning: DESTDIR and RELEASEDIR must not refer to any directory with /mnt in its path, as /mnt is used in the release generation process. The vnd(4) device vnd0 is also used and must not be configured.

Make the release and check the contents of the release tarballs:

# export DESTDIR=your-destdir RELEASEDIR=your-releasedir
# cd /usr/src/etc && make release
# cd /usr/src/distrib/sets && sh checkflist

Xenocara is based on the X.Org modular build system. Its sources are supposed to be in /usr/xenocara. The /usr/src tree is also needed while building Xenocara. The object directory /usr/xobj should be empty and owned by build:wobj with mode 770.

The following steps will build and install Xenocara.

# cd /usr/xenocara
# make bootstrap
# make obj
# make build

Xenocara uses DESTDIR and RELEASEDIR as described above. Use a different DESTDIR for the Xenocara release than for the base release, as the contents of DESTDIR will be removed.

The steps to build and validate the Xenocara release are:

# export DESTDIR=your-destdir RELEASEDIR=your-releasedir
# make release
# make checkdist

At this point, OpenBSD base system and X Window System tarballs are in RELEASEDIR.

The ports subsystem of contributed applications is capable of producing packages for installation, either individually or in bulk. This is described in ports(7).

The disk images install${VERSION}.img and install${VERSION}.iso are suitable for installs without network connectivity. They contain the tarballs and ports built in the previous steps.

# export RELDIR=your-releasedir RELXDIR=your-xenocara-releasedir
# cd /usr/src/distrib/$(machine)/iso && make
# make install

The two installer images are now stored in the local release directory.

cvs(1), pkg_add(1), mk.conf(5), ports(7), sysmerge(8)

This document first appeared in OpenBSD 2.8.

August 20, 2020 OpenBSD-7.1