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PKG_CREATE(1) General Commands Manual PKG_CREATE(1)

pkg_createcreate binary software package for distribution

pkg_create [-mnQqSvx] [-A arches] [-B pkg-destdir] [-D name[=value]] [-L localbase] [-M displayfile] [-P pkgpath:pkgspec:default] [-U undisplayfile] [-u userlist] [-V n] [-W libspec-d desc -D COMMENT=value -D FULLPKGPATH=value -D PORTSDIR=value -f packinglist -p prefix pkg-name

pkg_create -f packinglist

The pkg_create command is normally used to create a binary package named pkg-name, for subsequent use with pkg_add(1), pkg_delete(1) and pkg_info(1). pkg-name will traditionally have a “.tgz” extension, to denote the underlying binary format. pkg-name must follow packages-specs(7).

Use of the ports(7) infrastructure instead of manual pkg_create invocation is strongly recommended.

pkg_create can also be used to recreate a binary package from an existing installation.

During package creation, pkg_create replaces too long file names with smaller equivalents (see package(5)), records extra information in the packing-list, such as the existence of symlinks and hard links, computes and stores file checksums, and verifies that all special objects are properly annotated in the packing-list.

It will also check all required shared libraries for reachability, by looking into all installed dependencies. It may also ask the ports tree for extra dependencies, provided some other dependency refers to the same BASE_PKGPATH (see The rationale is that those libraries must already be present for the package to build correctly, and thus be reachable through the subset of dependencies that are not pure RUN_DEPENDS.

The options are as follows:

Register a list of architectures for which this package should install. arches is a comma-separated list of architectures. Use ‘*’ to mean any architecture (e.g., arch-independent packages).
Set pkg-destdir as the prefix to prepend to any file to select for the package.
Define name to value (or just define it) for substitution and fragment inclusion purposes. Some specific names have extra meaning, see and package(5) for details:

Set to the port's Makefile PERMIT_PACKAGE_CDROM.
Set package “one line description” (mandatory).
Record checksums of files in permanent location ${HISTORY_DIR}/${FULLPKGPATH:S,/,./g}.lru.
Set to the port's Makefile PERMIT_PACKAGE_FTP.
Location in the ports tree, mandatory for updates to work (see pkg_add(1)).
If defined, appended to the description.
If defined, appended to the description.
If set, disable the @ts annotations in the generated package, rely on the normal tar(1) timestamps instead. (Mostly used to create firmware "packages" since fw_update(8) only handles a very small subset of the package(5) format.)
Set to 1 to have groff format manpages behind the scenes during package creation.
Set automatically by to values that help pkg_create catch a few errors in package naming.
Fetch long description for package from file desc or, if preceded by ‘-’, the argument itself.
Fetch “packing-list” for package from the file packinglist. Several packing-lists can be mentioned, in which case they will be concatenated together.
Record localbase as the localbase used in the package (By default, /usr/local). Packages built with another localbase can only be installed by using the same localbase in pkg_add(1), to prevent errors.
Display the file (using more(1)) after installing the package. Useful for things like legal notices on almost-free software, etc.
Causes pkg_create to always display the progress meter in cases it would not do so by default.
Don't actually create a package.
Declare a dependency on a package matching pkgspec (see packages-specs(7)). An appropriate package must be installed before this package may be installed, and that package must be deinstalled before this package is deinstalled. The dependency also contains a pkgpath (see pkgpath(7)) and a default package name, in case there is no listing of available packages.

As a special case, ‘=’ may be used as a pkgspec, to match the default version exactly.

Set prefix as the initial directory “base” to start from in selecting files for the package, and to record as the base for installing the package.
Print out the files in the actual packing-list of the package being generated, with explicit typing (e.g. @file, @lib, ...).
Print out the actual packing-list of the package being generated (query mode). Most often used in combination with -n.
Print the update signature of the package. See pkg_info(1).
Display the file (using more(1)) when deinstalling the package. Useful for reminders about stuff to clean up.
Check all @newuser and @newgroup statements against a userlist file (usually ${PORTSDIR}/infrastructure/db/user.list) and error out for entries not registered in that file. Also error out if the file is incoherent.
Adds n to the ‘global system version’ of the package (see package(5)). The default value of 0 is not recorded, thus packages without @version have an implicit version of 0.
Turn on verbose output.
Package needs a shared library to work. libspec is ‘name.major.minor’ or ‘path/name.major.minor’. The package won't be installed unless a library with the same name, the exact same major number and at least the same minor number can be located. A library without path is searched through dependent packages under the same localbase, then in the system libraries under /usr/lib and /usr/X11R6/lib. A library with a path is only searched through dependent packages, that path being relative to localbase.
Disable progress meter.

pkg_create can also be invoked with only the packing-list from an installed package. It will recreate the corresponding binary package in the current directory from the installation, or error out if any problem is found. For example, the following will recreate a kdelibs-3.4.3.tgz package:

pkg_create -f /var/db/pkg/kdelibs-3.4.3/+CONTENTS

The “packing-list” format (see -f) is fairly straightforward: basically a list of filenames and directory names to include in the package.

Substitution of variables and inclusion of fragments is documented in the next section.

Directory names are denoted by a trailing slash.

There are some annotations that can be inserted for better control. All these commands start with an ‘@’. The following annotations can be inserted manually (but commonly update-plist(1) is used for creating most packing-list contents):

pkgspec message
Mechanism to prevent unwanted updates. If the new package is installed as part of an update matching pkgspec, the message will be displayed to the user. In non-interactive mode, the update will abort. Otherwise, the user will have a chance to proceed. Automated updates can be done by using -D update_stem, with stem the stem of the pkgspec. Classical use case for postgresql:
@ask-update postgresql-server-<8 Make sure your existing database is backed up

Use very sparingly. Most cases that seem to require manual updates just require a bit more thought.

Describe the file as an OpenBSD binary executable (not a script).

Place a comment in the packing-list. Useful in trying to document some particularly hairy sequence that may trip someone up later. Can also be used to comment out elements that update-plist (see will insist in inserting in a packing-list.

The special comment @comment no checksum can be used to tag the next file as special: even though its characteristics will be recorded in the package, it can be altered after installation, and pkg_delete(1) will still delete it.

The special comment @comment no debug can be used to tag the next file as special: even though it might be a binary, it has no debug info (see build-debug-info(1)).

Declare a conflict with packages matching pkgspec (see packages-specs(7)). The pkgname package can be installed if a package matching pkgspec has been installed because they install the same files and thus conflict.

Set the package current directory. All subsequent filenames will be assumed relative to pathname.

Create directory directoryname at pkg_add(1) time, taking @mode, @group, and @owner into account, and remove it during pkg_delete(1). Directories to remove can be shared between packages. If name does not begin with an @, same as

tag mode params
Define a tag of name tag. Tags define actions to be performed at specific time during pkg_add(1) and pkg_delete(1). A given tag may be defined several times with additional properties. Currently, the following modes are defined:
if the tag occurs in any dependency, the given command params is executed at the end, similar to @exec commands.

The %D escape sequence stands for localbase.

Actual tags may themselves contain parameters, so the params list recognizes two additional escape sequences:

list of tag parameters, in a random order, with duplicates removed.
execute the command once for each distinct tag parameter.

As a special case, deleting the package that contains the @define-tag will work differently: If that @tag is present in the same package as the @define-tag, then it will be run when encountered, presumably before the command itself has been deleted. If that @tag is not present, the command won't be run at all, since the package has been deleted from the file system, and usually cleaning up only requires removing index files.

If the given tag is found in dependencies, it supersedes the other tag given in the same line. For instance:
@define-tag mktexlsr at-end mktexlsr
@define-tag mktexlsr-local at-end mktexlsr texmf-local
@define-tag mktexlsr supersedes mktexlsr-local

Here, the tag mktexlsr rebuilds every texmf directory index, whereas mktexlsr-local only rebuilds the local texmf directory index, so if both tags are seen, only the global command will be run.

Execute command during pkg_add(1). Note that @exec commands are executed relative to their location in the packing-list, so they can rely on any data that have already been extracted, but not on anything that is listed after them. Some special elements, such as new users and new groups, are always created first, so that @exec can rely on them.

pkg_add(1) and pkg_delete(1) set the PATH to a predictable value:


during execution.

If command contains any of the following sequences somewhere in it, they will be expanded inline. For the following examples, assume that @cwd is set to /usr/local and the last extracted file was bin/emacs.

Expands to the “basename” of the fully qualified filename, that is the current directory prefix, plus the last filespec, minus the trailing filename. In the example case, that would be /usr/local/bin.
Expands to the current directory prefix, as set with @cwd; in the example case /usr/local.
Expands to the last filename extracted (as specified); in the example case, bin/emacs.
Expands to the “filename” part of the fully qualified name, or the converse of %B; in the example case, emacs.

Synonym of @exec.

Similar to @exec, except it only gets executed during new installations, and not during updates.

Similar to @exec, except it only gets executed during updates, and not during new installations.

Declare extra file filename to be deleted at deinstall time, if user sets the -c option. Those files are extra configuration files that are normally not deleted. filename can be an absolute path. If filename ends with a slash, it is a directory.

Extra command to execute when removing extra files.

Default annotation, to use if filename begins with @. filename is always a relative path, relative to the current @cwd.

Specialized version of @dir, to handle font directories: create font.alias from font.alias-* fragments, execute mkfontdir(1), mkfontscale(1) and fc-cache(1) when needed. Delete extra files at pkg_delete(1) time.

Set default group ownership for all subsequently extracted files to group. Use without an arg to set back to default (extraction) group ownership.

Specialized version of @file, to handle GNU info files. Automatically grab filename-* chapter files, run install-info(1) as needed.

Specialized version of @file, to handle shared libraries. Satisfy LIB_DEPENDS and WANTLIB, run ldconfig(8) as needed. See ‘VARIABLE SUBSTITUTION AND FRAGMENT INCLUSION’ for some details.

Specialized version of @file, to handle manual pages.

Specialized version of @dir, to handle manual directories: instruct user to add/remove the directory to man.conf(5), remove apropos(1) database when needed.

Set default permission for all subsequently extracted files to mode. Format is the same as that used by the chmod(1) command. Use without an arg to set back to default (extraction) permissions.

During pkg_add(1), create a new group, using groupadd(8). Happens before file and user creations. gid can be prefixed with a ‘!’ to ensure group has the correct GID. During pkg_delete(1), groups will be deleted if extra clean-up has been requested, and if other installed packages don't list the same group.

During pkg_add(1), create a new user. Happens before any file creation. All fields correspond to useradd(8) parameters. Some fields are optional and can be left empty. If the user already exists, no action is taken. Individual fields can be prefixed by a ‘!’ to make sure an existing user matches. For instance, the directive @newuser foo:!42 will make sure user foo has UID 42. During pkg_delete(1), users will be deleted if extra clean-up has been requested, and if other installed packages don't list the same user.

Effects vary depending on name. These are the user settable options
By default, pkg_add(1) uses some simplified information to decide whether an installed package needs updating. With this option, the package will be updated whenever anything changes.

This is meant to be used by packages containing information relating to the whole ports tree, like sqlports, quirks, pkglocatedb.

Annotate the few rare ports where several branches are present in the ports tree (such as autoconf), to help pkg_info(1) produce stem%branch annotations when needed.
By default, a package conflicts with other versions of the same package. With this option, the older package version will still be noticed, but the installation will proceed anyway.

Set default ownership for all subsequently extracted files to user. Use without an arg to set back to default (extraction) ownership.

Declare a secondary pkgpath for the package. This is used for updates: pkg_add -u normally checks that the pkgpath embedded in the package corresponds to the old package, to solve ambiguities when packages with similar names are involved. When ports get renamed, or flavors change, extra @pkgpath annotations can help pkg_add get a sense of continuity. Note that these pkgpath can take extra optional components, to allow the matching of several flavors at once, and are order independent. For instance,
@pkgpath some/dir,f1,f2


@pkgpath some/dir,f2,f2,f1

are equivalent.

@pkgpath some/dir,f1[,f2,f3][,f4]

will match all pkgpaths to some/dir with flavor f1, and optionally f4, and optionally both f2 and f3, e.g., some/dir,f1,f4, some/dir,f1,f2,f3, some/dir,f1,f2,f3,f4, some/dir,f1 would match, but some/dir,f1,f5, some/dir,f2,f3, some/dir,f1,f2,f4 would not.

Each binary package contains a set of pkgpaths: the primary pkgpath that was used to build the package, recorded as @comment pkgpath=some/path, and secondary pkgpaths as recorded through @pkgpath.

In order for two packages to match, their primary pkgpaths must match, or a secondary pkgpath must match the other package's primary pkgpath.

Script for the /etc/rc.d framework. Contrary to @file, absolute paths are okay, e.g.,
@rcscript ${RCDIR}/ballsd

In this case, performs an implicit @cwd to ${RCDIR}.

Last preceding @file item is a sample configuration file, to be copied to filename at pkg_add(1) time and to be removed at pkg_delete(1) time. During installation, existing configuration files are untouched. During deinstallation, configuration files are only removed if unchanged. filename can be an absolute path. If filename ends with a slash, it refers to a configuration directory instead.

Specialized version of @file, to handle shells. See shells(5).

Describe the file as an OpenBSD shared object.

Describe the file as a OpenBSD static library.

Execute command during pkg_delete(1). PATH and expansion of special % sequences are the same as for @exec. Note that @unexec commands are executed relative to their location in the packing-list, so they cannot rely on any data that has already been deleted, thus they should occur before the files they need to function. Some special elements, such as new users and new groups, are always deleted last, so that @unexec can rely on them.

name [parameter]
Reference a tag of given name. The corresponding @define-tag definition must be accessible through the dependency tree. parameter is amenable to the same substitutions as @exec.

Synonym of @unexec.

Similar to @unexec, except it only gets executed during true deletions and not while removing an old package during updates.

Similar to @unexec, except it only gets executed while removing an old package during updates, and not during true deletions.

The @bin, @lib, @so and @static-lib annotations are used by the debug packages infrastructure to figure out which files may contain debug information.

Some of these annotations define information that are local to each port but global to the package ecosystem in general, and thus make it into the package locate database by default (for instance: @define-tag, @newuser and @newgroup). See pkg_mklocatedb(1) for details.

See package(5) for other internal annotations that are automatically added by the package tools.

In packing-lists, installation, deinstallation and requirement scripts, description and message files, constructs like ${VAR} will be replaced with the variable value, according to -D name=value options.

In particular, shared library versions should never be mentioned explicitly in a packing-list. Shared library ‘foo’ will take its version number from LIBfoo_VERSION. The ports framework normally takes care of all details, see SHARED_LIBS in

Constructs like %%VAR%% and !%%VAR%% trigger fragment inclusion. If such a line is encountered in a packing-list, the corresponding variable must be defined to 0 or 1. If the variable's value is 1, %%VAR%% will be replaced by the corresponding positive fragment, and !%%VAR%% will be ignored. If the variable's value is 0, %%VAR%% will be ignored, and !%%VAR%% will be replaced by the corresponding positive fragment.

A fragment is an auxiliary packing-list file, whose name is derived from the current packing-list, and the variable name VAR triggering the inclusion: pkg/PLIST yields a positive fragment pkg/PFRAG.VAR and a negative fragment pkg/, pkg/PLIST-FOO yields a positive fragment pkg/PFRAG.VAR-foo and a negative fragment pkg/

Fragments can be included inside fragments, so that %%VAR2%% inside pkg/PFRAG.VAR triggers the inclusion of pkg/PFRAG.VAR2-VAR and !%%VAR2%% triggers the inclusion of pkg/

If a positive or a negative fragment file does not exist, the corresponding inclusion will be ignored. However, if both the positive and negative fragment files do not exist, pkg_create will error out, to make it easier to spot fragment names errors.

pkg_add(1), pkg_delete(1), pkg_info(1), pkg_sign(1), tar(1),, package(5), packages-specs(7), pkgpath(7), ports(7)

The pkg_create command first appeared in FreeBSD.

Jordan Hubbard
initial design

Marc Espie
complete rewrite.
July 5, 2023 OpenBSD-current