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Rockspec format

Peter Melnichenko edited this page · 5 revisions

For number fields, strings are accepted and converted using tonumber().

Table of Contents

Package metadata

  • rockspec_format (string) - the file format version. Example: "1.0"
  • package (string, mandatory field) - the name of the package. Example: "LuaSocket"
  • version (string, mandatory field) - the version of the package, plus a suffix indicating the revision of the rockspec. Example: "2.0.1-1"
  • description (table)
    • description.summary (string) - A one-line description of the package. Example: "Network support for the Lua language"
    • description.detailed (string) - A longer description of the package. Example: "LuaSocket is a Lua extension library that is composed by two parts: a C core that provides support for the TCP and UDP transport layers, and a set of Lua modules that add support for functionality commonly needed by applications that deal with the Internet."
    • description.license (string) - The license used by the package. A short name, such as "MIT/X11" and "GPL-2" is preferred. Software using the same license as Lua 5.x should use "MIT/X11".
    • description.homepage (string) - An URL for the project. This is not the URL for the tarball, but the address of a website. Example: ""
    • description.maintainer (string) - Contact information for the rockspec maintainer (which may or may not be the package maintainer -- contact for the package maintainer can usually be obtained through the address in the homepage field). Example: "John Doe <>"

Dependency information

Dependencies are represented in LuaRocks through strings with a package name followed by a comma-separated list of constraints. Each constraint consists of an operator and a version number. In this string format, version numbers are represented as naturally as possible, like they are used by upstream projects (e.g. "2.0beta3"). Internally, LuaRocks converts them to a purely numeric representation, allowing comparison following some common sense heuristics. The precise specification of the comparison criteria is the source code of the luarocks.deps module, but the test/test_deps.lua file included with LuaRocks provides some insights on what these criteria are.

  • supported_platforms (array of strings) (since 0.6) - If this array is not present, the rock is assumed to be portable to any platform. If present, this should contain strings containing LuaRocks platform identifiers, optionally preceded by a "!" to indicate a negative match. If only negative entries are listed, the rock is assumed to be portable to any platform except those listed. If any positive entry exists, then at least one entry must match positively to the currently running platform. Currently supported LuaRocks platform identifiers are: "unix", "windows", "win32", "cygwin", "macosx", "linux", "freebsd". Platforms may have more than one valid identifier; e.g. Linux defines both "unix" and "linux". Note that, as of 0.6, Cygwin under Windows defines {"unix", "cygwin"} but not "windows".
  • dependencies (array of strings) - Each string represents a package this rock depends on, containing a package name followed by a comma-separated list of constraints. Example: {"lfs >= 1.0, < 2.0"}. Accepted operators are the relational operators of Lua: == ~= = , as well as a special operator, ~>, inspired by the "pessimistic operator" of RubyGems ("~> 2" means ">= 2, < 3"; "~> 2.4" means ">= 2.4, < 2.5"). No operator means an implicit == (i.e., "lfs 1.0" is the same as "lfs == 1.0"). "lua" is an special dependency name; it matches not a rock, but the version of Lua in use. Supports per-platform overrides.
  • external_dependencies (table) - For each key in the external_dependencies table in the rockspec file, four variables available to the build rules are created: key_DIR, key_BINDIR, key_INCDIR and key_LIBDIR. These are not overwritten if already set (e.g. by the LuaRocks config file or through the command-line). The base prefix for these can be given explicitly setting key_DIR in the config file or through the command-line, or implicitly, defaulting to the value of default_external_deps_dir, set in the config file. Values in the external_dependencies table are tables that may contain a "header" or a "library" field, with filenames to be tested for existence. Example: { EXPAT = { header = "expat.h" } } -- on Unix, this will check that key_DIR/include/expat.h exists and will create variables accordingly. (since 0.6): You can also use platform overrides or specify files of external dependencies in a platform-agnostic manner. Supports per-platform overrides.

Build rules

  • source (table, mandatory field) - Contains information on how to fetch sources to build this rock. Supports per-platform overrides.
    • source.url (string, mandatory field) - the URL of the package source archive. Examples: "", "git://"
    • source.md5 (string) - the MD5 sum for the source archive. Example: "9ca22fd9f9413b54802d3d40b38c4e5c"
    • source.file (string) - the filename of the source archive. Can be omitted if it can be inferred from the source.url field. Example: "luasocket-2.0.1.tar.gz"
    • source.dir (string) - the name of the directory created when the source archive is unpacked. Can be omitted if it can be inferred from the source.file field. Example: "luasocket-2.0.1"
    • source.tag (string) - for SCM-based URL protocols such as "cvs://" and "git://", this field can be used to specify a tag for checking out sources. Example: "HEAD" (For compatibility reasons, source.cvs_tag is also accepted.)
    • source.branch (string) - for SCM-based URL protocols such as "git://", this field can be used to specify a branch for checking out sources. Example: "v1.0"
    • source.module (string) - for SCM-based URL protocols such as "cvs://" and "git://", this field can be used to specify the module to be checked out. Can be omitted if it is the same as the basename of the source.url field. Example: "cgilua" (For compatibility reasons, source.cvs_module is also accepted.)
  • build (table) - Contains all information pertaining how to build a rock. Supports per-platform overrides.
    • build.type (string) - The LuaRocks build back-end to use. Example: "make"
    • build.install (table) - For packages which don't provide means to install modules and expect the user to copy the .lua or library files by hand to the proper locations. This table contains categories of files. Each category is itself a table, where the array part is a list of filenames to be copied. For module directories only, in the hash part, other keys are identifiers in Lua module format, to indicate which subdirectory the file should be copied to. For example, build.install.lua = {[""] = "src/bar.lua"} will copy src/bar.lua to the foo directory under the rock's Lua files directory. The available categories are:
      • build.install.lua (table) - Lua modules written in Lua.
      • build.install.lib (table) - Dynamic libraries implemented compiled Lua modules.
      • build.install.conf (table) - Configuration files.
      • build.install.bin (table) - Lua command-line scripts.
    • build.copy_directories (array of strings) (since 1.0) - A list of directories in the source directory to be copied to the rock installation prefix as-is. Useful for installing documentation and other files such as samples and tests. Default is {"doc"} for documentation to be locally installed in the rocktree.
    • build.patches (table) - A rockspec can embed patches in unified diff ("diff -u") format, which are applied prior to building the modules. Each entry in this table should contain a descriptive file name for the patch a the key, and the text of the patch as the value (typically, as a long string). The patch is applied from within the source.dir directory, and file names ignore the first directory level (in other word, patches are applied with the equivalent of "patch -p 1"). Keep in mind that the actual text of the patch cannot be indented. Example:
      patches = { ["lua51-support.diff"] = [[--- old/mymodule.c....]] }

Build back-ends

Build back-ends indicate how to build a package. Fields of the build table other than build.type, build.platforms and build.install are specific to the given type.


This is a mode for packages distributing pure Lua or simple C modules. All pathnames used are relative to source.dir. The goal is to allow module authors to specify compilation of their C code in a clean, simple and portable way.

  • modules (array) - An array in which keys are module names in the format normally used by the require() function, and values may be:
    • strings - pathnames of Lua files or C sources, for modules based on a single source file.
    • array of strings - pathnames of C sources of a simple module written in C composed of multiple files.
    • table - a table containing one or more fields:
      • sources (array of strings) - the only mandatory field, pathnames of C sources.
      • libraries (array of strings) - external libraries to be linked.
      • defines (array of strings) - a list of C defines. eg. { "FOO=bar", "USE_BLA" }
      • incdirs (array of strings) - directories to be added to the compiler's headers lookup directory list.
      • libdirs (array of strings) - directories to be added to the linker's library lookup directory list.


Indicates the package uses a Makefile.

    • build.makefile (string) - Makefile to be used. Default is "Makefile" on Unix variants and "" under Win32.
    • build.build_target (string) - Default is "".
    • build.build_pass (boolean) - Whether to perform a make pass on the target indicated by build.build_target. Default is true (i.e., to run make).
    • build.install_target (string) - Default is "install".
    • build.install_pass (boolean) - Whether to perform a make pass on the target indicated by build.build_target. Default is true (i.e., to run make).
    • build.build_variables (table) - Assignments to be passed to make during the build pass. Default is {}.
    • build.install_variables (table) - Assignments to be passed to make during the install pass. Default is {}.
    • build.variables (table) - Assignments to be passed to make on both passes. Default is {}.
Variables expected by this back-end to be provided by the configuration file are:
    • CC - Command to call the C compiler.
    • CFLAGS - Flags to be passed to the C compiler. May be empty.
    • LIBFLAG - Flag to be passed to the C compiler to instruct it to build a shared library.
These are usually detected by the default configuration, but can be overridden by the configuration file. See also the "Variables" section of the Config file format specification for other path variables that are defined automatically, and the documentation on the external_dependencies entry above for variables that are automatically generated based on paths of external dependencies.


Indicates the package uses CMake for building.

  • build.cmake (string) - If given, its contents are used as the CMakeLists.txt file. If not given, it is assumed that the package provides a CMakeLists.txt file.
  • build.variables (table) - Additional variables to be passed to CMake. Equals to calling CMake with attributes: cmake -Dkey1=value1 -Dkey2=value2 ...
Additionally you can specify these environment variables when calling LuaRocks:
    • CMAKE_MODULE_PATH - Tells CMake where to search for additional modules.
    • CMAKE_INCLUDE_PATH - Path to desired include directory.
    • CMAKE_LIBRARY_PATH - Path to libraries.


A simple backend called "command" is also provided, in which build commands are typed in directly in the rockspec file.

  • build.build_command (string) - Command to run to build the package.
  • build.install_command (string) - Command to run to install the package.


A null build back-end. Indicates that there is no build to perform.

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