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1. Files and Directories


1.a. Portage Files

Configuration Directives

Portage comes with a default configuration stored in /usr/share/portage/config/make.globals. When you take a look at it, you'll notice that all Portage configuration is handled through variables. What variables Portage listens to and what they mean are described later.

Since many configuration directives differ between architectures, Portage also has default configuration files which are part of your profile. Your profile is pointed to by the /etc/portage/make.profile symlink; Portage' configurations are set in the make.defaults files of your profile and all parent profiles. We'll explain more about profiles and the /etc/portage/make.profile directory later on.

If you're planning on changing a configuration variable, don't alter /usr/share/portage/config/make.globals or make.defaults. Instead use /etc/portage/make.conf which has precedence over the previous files. You'll also find a /usr/share/portage/config/make.conf.example. As the name implies, this is merely an example file - Portage does not read in this file.

You can also define a Portage configuration variable as an environment variable, but we don't recommend this.

Profile-Specific Information

We've already encountered the /etc/portage/make.profile directory. Well, this isn't exactly a directory but a symbolic link to a profile, by default one inside /usr/portage/profiles although you can create your own profiles elsewhere and point to them. The profile this symlink points to is the profile to which your system adheres.

A profile contains architecture-specific information for Portage, such as a list of packages that belong to the system corresponding with that profile, a list of packages that don't work (or are masked-out) for that profile, etc.

User-Specific Configuration

When you need to override Portage's behaviour regarding the installation of software, you will end up editing files within /etc/portage. You are highly recommended to use files within /etc/portage and highly discouraged to override the behaviour through environment variables!

Within /etc/portage you can create the following files:

  • package.mask which lists the packages you never want Portage to install
  • package.unmask which lists the packages you want to be able to install even though the Gentoo developers highly discourage you from emerging them
  • package.accept_keywords which lists the packages you want to be able to install even though the package hasn't been found suitable for your system or architecture (yet)
  • package.use which lists the USE flags you want to use for certain packages without having the entire system use those USE flags

These don't have to be files; they can also be directories that contain one file per package. More information about the /etc/portage directory and a full list of possible files you can create can be found in the Portage man page:

Code ListingĀ 1.1: Reading the Portage man page

$ man portage

Changing Portage File & Directory Locations

The previously mentioned configuration files cannot be stored elsewhere - Portage will always look for those configuration files at those exact locations. However, Portage uses many other locations for various purposes: build directory, source code storage, Portage tree location, ...

All these purposes have well-known default locations but can be altered to your own taste through /etc/portage/make.conf. The rest of this chapter explains what special-purpose locations Portage uses and how to alter their placement on your filesystem.

This document isn't meant to be used as a reference though. If you need 100% coverage, please consult the Portage and make.conf man pages:

Code ListingĀ 1.2: Reading the Portage and make.conf man pages

$ man portage
$ man make.conf

1.b. Storing Files

The Portage Tree

The Portage tree default location is /usr/portage. This is defined by the PORTDIR variable. When you store the Portage tree elsewhere (by altering this variable), don't forget to change the /etc/portage/make.profile symbolic link accordingly.

If you alter the PORTDIR variable, you might want to alter the following variables as well since they will not notice the PORTDIR change. This is due to how Portage handles variables: PKGDIR, DISTDIR, RPMDIR.

Prebuilt Binaries

Even though Portage doesn't use prebuilt binaries by default, it has extensive support for them. When you ask Portage to work with prebuilt packages, it will look for them in /usr/portage/packages. This location is defined by the PKGDIR variable.

Source Code

Application source code is stored in /usr/portage/distfiles by default. This location is defined by the DISTDIR variable.

Portage Database

Portage stores the state of your system (what packages are installed, what files belong to which package, ...) in /var/db/pkg. Do not alter these files manually! It might break Portage's knowledge of your system.

Portage Cache

The Portage cache (with modification times, virtuals, dependency tree information, ...) is stored in /var/cache/edb. This location really is a cache: you can clean it if you are not running any portage-related application at that moment.

1.c. Building Software

Temporary Portage Files

Portage's temporary files are stored in /var/tmp by default. This is defined by the PORTAGE_TMPDIR variable.

If you alter the PORTAGE_TMPDIR variable, you might want to alter the following variables as well since they will not notice the PORTAGE_TMPDIR change. This is due to how Portage handles variables: BUILD_PREFIX.

Building Directory

Portage creates specific build directories for each package it emerges inside /var/tmp/portage. This location is defined by the BUILD_PREFIX variable.

Live Filesystem Location

By default Portage installs all files on the current filesystem (/), but you can change this by setting the ROOT environment variable. This is useful when you want to create new build images.

1.d. Logging Features

Ebuild Logging

Portage can create per-ebuild logfiles, but only when the PORT_LOGDIR variable is set to a location that is writable by Portage (the portage user). By default this variable is unset. If you don't set PORT_LOGDIR, then you won't receive any build logs with the current logging system, though you may receive some logs from the new elog. If you do have PORT_LOGDIR defined and you use elog, you will receive build logs and any logs saved by elog, as explained below.

Portage offers fine-grained control over logging through the use of elog:

  • PORTAGE_ELOG_CLASSES: This is where you set what kinds of messages to be logged. You can use any space-separated combination of info, warn, error, log, and qa.
    • info: Logs "einfo" messages printed by an ebuild
    • warn: Logs "ewarn" messages printed by an ebuild
    • error: Logs "eerror" messages printed by an ebuild
    • log: Logs the "elog" messages found in some ebuilds
    • qa: Logs the "QA Notice" messages printed by an ebuild
  • PORTAGE_ELOG_SYSTEM: This selects the module(s) to process the log messages. If left empty, logging is disabled. You can use any space-separated combination of save, custom, syslog, mail, save_summary, and mail_summary. You must select at least one module in order to use elog.
    • save: This saves one log per package in $PORT_LOGDIR/elog, or /var/log/portage/elog if $PORT_LOGDIR is not defined.
    • custom: Passes all messages to a user-defined command in $PORTAGE_ELOG_COMMAND; this will be discussed later.
    • syslog: Sends all messages to the installed system logger.
    • mail: Passes all messages to a user-defined mailserver in $PORTAGE_ELOG_MAILURI; this will be discussed later. The mail features of elog require >=portage-2.1.1.
    • save_summary: Similar to save, but it merges all messages in $PORT_LOGDIR/elog/summary.log, or /var/log/portage/elog/summary.log if $PORT_LOGDIR is not defined.
    • mail_summary: Similar to mail, but it sends all messages in a single mail when emerge exits.
  • PORTAGE_ELOG_COMMAND: This is only used when the custom module is enabled. Here is where you specify a command to process log messages. Note that you can make use of two variables: ${PACKAGE} is the package name and version, while ${LOGFILE} is the absolute path to the logfile. Here's one possible usage:
    • PORTAGE_ELOG_COMMAND="/path/to/logger -p '\${PACKAGE}' -f '\${LOGFILE}'"
  • PORTAGE_ELOG_MAILURI: This contains settings for the mail module such as address, user, password, mailserver, and port number. The default setting is "root@localhost localhost".
  • Here's an example for an smtp server that requires username and password-based authentication on a particular port (the default is port 25):
    • PORTAGE_ELOG_MAILURI="user@some.domain username:password@smtp.some.domain:995"
  • PORTAGE_ELOG_MAILFROM: Allows you to set the "from" address of log mails; defaults to "portage" if unset.
  • PORTAGE_ELOG_MAILSUBJECT: Allows you to create a subject line for log mails. Note that you can make use of two variables: ${PACKAGE} will display the package name and version, while ${HOST} is the fully qualified domain name of the host Portage is running on.
  • Here's one possible use:
    • PORTAGE_ELOG_MAILSUBJECT="package \${PACKAGE} was merged on \${HOST} with some messages"

Important: If you used enotice with Portage-2.0.*, you must completely remove enotice, as it is incompatible with elog.

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Page updated December 17, 2013

Summary: Once you want to know Portage in-depth you need to know where it stores its files and data.

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