Jonathan Perkin edited this page May 15, 2017 · 4 revisions


  1. Introduction
  2. Setup
  3. Create Package Directory
  4. Create Initial Package Files
  5. Build
  6. Patches
  7. Dependencies
  8. Install
  9. Create
  10. Verify
  11. Upstream
  12. Further Information


This tutorial will use augeas as an example of how to package a new piece of software, as it happens to be a package that was requested at time of writing, and is relatively straight-forward.

Some packages are simpler than this, and many are significantly more complicated. This guide only explains the basic process. For more challenging packages, have a look at some of the larger packages already in pkgsrc for ideas and consult the pkgsrc guide for further details.

This guide assumed that you have followed the setup document and are logged into an appropriate run-sandbox session.


First, install the pkgtools/url2pkg package, as this massively simplifies the task in hand.

: If you have binary packages available..
# pkg_add url2pkg

: ..else build from source
# (cd pkgtools/url2pkg; bmake install)

Create Package Directory

Next, create a new package directory, choosing the most appropriate category (in this case devel), then run url2pkg giving it an argument of the source tarball.

$ mkdir devel/augeas
$ cd devel/augeas
$ url2pkg

Create Initial Package Files

First it will open an editor session on Makefile. You should customise a few variables:

  • Set MAINTAINER either to your email address, or to if you do not want to be the primary maintainer of the package.

  • Write a brief one-line COMMENT describing what the package is.

  • Set LICENSE to a list of the licenses the package is made available under (see mk/ for an available list).

Here is what was used for augeas:

# $NetBSD$

DISTNAME=	augeas-1.0.0

COMMENT=	Configuration file editing tool and library
LICENSE=	gnu-lgpl-v2

# url2pkg-marker (please do not remove this line.)
.include "../../mk/"

After writing the file and exiting the editor session, url2pkg will continue and download the source tarball, create the DESCR, PLIST and distinfo files, then unpack the source ready for you to start applying patches.

At this point you should edit DESCR and put in a few lines which describe the package.


The general cycle will then be:

  • Try building the package with bmake.

  • If something goes wrong, modify the Makefile or patch the source with pkgvi.

until the package builds. Before running your first bmake, I would strongly recommend adding PKG_DEVELOPER=yes to your mk.conf to turn on a lot of additional checks.

For augeas, a couple of things were needed.


The first problem hit was:

$ bmake
=> Checking for portability problems in extracted files
ERROR: [check-portability.awk] => Found test ... == ...:
ERROR: [check-portability.awk] configure: test "`uname`" == "SunOS" && \

The "test" command, as well as the "[" command, are not required to know
the "==" operator. Only a few implementations like bash and some
versions of ksh support it.

When you run "test foo == foo" on a platform that does not support the
"==" operator, the result will be "false" instead of "true". This can
lead to unexpected behavior.

There are two ways to fix this error message. If the file that contains
the "test ==" is needed for building the package, you should create a
patch for it, replacing the "==" operator with "=". If the file is not
needed, add its name to the CHECK_PORTABILITY_SKIP variable in the
package Makefile.

In this case pkgsrc gives us a very helpful message telling us about the problem and what needs to be done to fix it (unfortunately not all problems are handled this well!). As configure is pretty important, we'll need to patch it.

This is the usual way of handling patches (ensuring pkgtools/pkgdiff is installed first):

: Use the 'cdwrk' alias to cd into the WRKSRC area.
# cdwrk

: Edit the file in question using the pkgvi wrapper.
# pkgvi configure

: Return to the pkgsrc directory and test the patch.
# cd -
# bmake

: Once the package builds successfully, use mkpatches to generate patches of
: your changes.  'bmake mps' updates the 'distinfo' checksum file, and the
: 'mkpatches -c' performs a cleanup.
# mkpatches; bmake mps; mkpatches -c

This was enough to fix the == problem.


Dependencies in pkgsrc are primarily handled in two ways, either with a buildlink file when depending upon shared libraries or particular infrastructure, or a simple DEPENDS line to pull in a required package.

The first dependency problem was:

checking readline/readline.h usability... no
checking readline/readline.h presence... no
checking for readline/readline.h... no
checking for readline in -lreadline... no
checking for library containing tgetent... -lcurses
checking for rl_initialize in -lreadline... no
configure: WARNING: readline library not found
configure: error: Could not find a working readline library (see config.log for details).
*** Error code 1

Ok, so this package depends upon readline. As that is a library, we are looking for a suitable file, and one of the easiest ways to do this is:

$ ls -1d ../../*/*readline*/

To use that file, all we need to do is add an .include line at the bottom of Makefile, just above the include.

.include "../../devel/readline/"
.include "../../mk/"

After that, bmake clean; bmake to try again. It is necessary to perform a clean build to ensure the dependencies are pulled in correctly.

The next problem was:

checking for LIBXML... no
configure: error: Package requirements (libxml-2.0) were not met:

No package 'libxml-2.0' found

Ok, so similar method:

$ ls -1d ../../*/*libxml*/

The configure message said libxml-2.0, so we'll pick textproc/libxml2. If you want to be more thorough you can look at the PLIST files for each of the possible candidate packages - experience often comes into play here.

The bottom of Makefile now looks like this:

.include "../../devel/readline/"
.include "../../textproc/libxml2/"
.include "../../mk/"

You'll note that we try to keep all includes other than (which is special) sorted alphabetically.

After this, the package finally completes a bmake with no problems. The final step is to get the install phase working.


First we need to run a stage-install which will execute make install into a temporary DESTDIR:

$ bmake stage-install

This will almost certainly fail as we haven't configured the PLIST yet, so pkgsrc has no idea what will be installed from this package.

=> Automatic manual page handling
=> Generating post-install file lists
=> Checking file-check results for augeas-1.0.0
ERROR: ************************************************************
ERROR: The following files are in /home/pbulk/build/devel/augeas/work/.destdir/opt/pkg but not in the PLIST:
ERROR:         /home/pbulk/build/devel/augeas/work/.destdir/opt/pkg/bin/augparse
ERROR:         /home/pbulk/build/devel/augeas/work/.destdir/opt/pkg/bin/augtool

However, now that we have a populated DESTDIR, we can use the print-PLIST target to generate it for us:

$ bmake print-PLIST >PLIST

Finally, it's worth doing a full clean and install to ensure everything works as expected.

$ bmake clean
$ bmake install
=> Creating binary package /home/pbulk/build/devel/augeas/work/.packages/augeas-1.0.0.tgz
===> Install binary package of augeas-1.0.0


As we are installing a library package, we should provide a file of our own so that other packages can depend on us correctly. Again, there is a package that can help with this - pkgtools/createbuildlink.

$ createbuildlink >

This will create a template file but you should read and edit, removing the lines marked with XXX and making any changes they recommend.


Once we have a working package it's worth doing a couple of checks to make sure everything looks ok:

: Check the package listing looks ok
$ pkg_info -L augeas

: View the included DESCR and homepage
$ pkg_info -d augeas

: Check what the package lists as its dependencies
$ pkg_info -N augeas

We also should run pkglint (pkgtools/pkglint) which will perform some sanity checks on our infrastructure files prior to us importing the package into pkgsrc itself. In my case it pointed out some possible issues:

$ pkglint
WARN: PLIST:8: Packages that install libtool libraries should define USE_LIBTOOL.
WARN: PLIST:9: Packages that install libtool libraries should define USE_LIBTOOL.
ERROR: patches/patch-configure:3: Comment expected.
1 errors and 2 warnings found. (Use -e for more details.)

For the first issue, add USE_LIBTOOL=yes to Makefile which will ensure that the pkgsrc libtool is used (has better support for cross-platform issues), and for the second, add a comment at the top of the file explaining what it is for, then re-generate distinfo with bmake mps.

After making those changes, everything looks great:

$ pkglint
looks fine.


The final - and sometimes most challenging - part is to get your shiny new package integrated into pkgsrc. There are a few options:

  • Find a NetBSD developer who can review your package and put it straight into pkgsrc.

  • Get a pkgsrc-wip account and work on your package there, before getting it reviewed and integrated.

  • If it's somewhat niche just publish it up on GitHub or similar for people to use, in a similar way to what we do with pkgsrc-joyent

Further Information

This post only scratches the surface of adding a new package. pkgsrc provides a huge amount of infrastructure to help get packages working on multiple platforms, and there are lots of options available.

Certain parts of the infrastructure, like buildlink, are very complicated, and for more in-depth information you should refer to the pkgsrc guide.

The best way is often just to look at other packages to see what they do and re-use useful bits you find. With 17,000+ packages there is almost certainly another package which does something similar to what you need!