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Sabotage Linux

This is Sabotage, an experimental distribution based on musl libc and busybox.

Currently Sabotage supports i386, x86_64, MIPS, PowerPC32 and ARM(v4t+). ARM hardfloat (hf) is supported via crosscompilation of stage1, since it requires a recent GCC which we can't easily bootstrap in stage0 due to library dependencies of GCC introduced with 4.3.

The preferred way to build Sabotage is using a native Linux environment for the desired architecture. It is now also possible to cross-compile large parts of it. As cross-compiling is hairy and support for it is quite new, expect breakage. Native builds are well tested and considered stable.


  • ~4G free disk space.
  • A Linux 3.8+ host kernel with USER_NS support, for entering native chroots without root.
  • A Linux 2.6+ host kernel can be used, but requires root access.
  • A gcc 4.x tool chain.
  • git, to check out the repository.
  • bzip2, sed, patch, tar, wc, wget and xz are needed to run the build script.
  • Lots of time and a fair bit of Linux knowledge.

This system has built natively on Debian 6 & 7, Fedora 18 & 21, Ubuntu 14.04, Ubuntu 16.04, openSUSE 13.2, Alpine 3.1.2 and Void Linux.

Obtaining Sabotage

You can bootstrap your own build from the scripts at:

Download ready-to-boot QEMU/VirtualBox disk images that you may also extract the rootfs from:

The DE mirror is the master from which the other mirrors are periodically synced.

SHA512 checksums for releases get posted on the mailing lists, archived here:


Native Build Instructions:


$ cp KEEP/config.stage0 config
$ vi config

Set the SABOTAGE_BUILDDIR, A, and MAKE_THREADS variables. You may usually ignore the other values. Both the config file and the COOKBOOK cover the meaning of these variables.

Enable SUPER to use the following ./enter-chroot script without root.

NOTE: It is possible to build an i386 Sabotage from within an existing 32-bit chroot on a 64-bit system. The enter-chroot script automatically handles this scenario.

$ ./build-stage0        # ~2min on 3GHz 8core, 75min on ARM A8 800Mhz
$ ./enter-chroot

Once inside the chroot:

$ butch install stage1	# Installs core system + build chain

ATTENTION: if you're using void or arch linux, building gcc630 in stage1 might fail due to a buggy ld. there's a workaround though:

Older pre-3.8 Linux systems will not support the rootless chroot approach used by ./enter-chroot. Disable SUPER and run ./enter-chroot as root if you encounter an issue.

At this point, stage1 is complete and your Sabotage chroot is set up. There are two optional steps to consider at this time:

$ /src/utils/     # remove unneeded bootstrap packages
$ /src/utils/   # rebuild core packages with the stage1 gcc

Rebuilding stage1 will not only optimize the packages built with the older bootstrap compiler, but will also ensure that your builds are reproducible and will match the results of others.

You may also install optional packages:

$ butch install core    # base developer system
$ butch install xorg    # install everything needed for X11
$ butch install world   # almost everything

You may list available packages by using ls /src/pkg.

If you wish to build the default kernel:

$ butch install kernel

Run butch and look at the usage information for further options.

butch uses build templates that allow for a high level of customization. KEEP/butch_build_template.txt is the base template used by Sabotage. It provides a tuned config.cache for faster configure runs. It also installs packages into /opt, creates file lists, etc.

After Compiling

When finished compiling, exit the chroot and either:

  • Use the rootfs directly, by copying it to some disk.
  • Use utils/ to boot the system in QEMU. Running in QEMU has poor HDD performance, as the FS is mounted via 9P protocol. It's not recommended for building packages, but it's practical for testing.
  • Use utils/ to create an image file. The image file boots in QEMU. To convert it into VirtualBox format use VBoxManage convertfromraw.


The default root password is "sabotage".

Start the sshd service using sv u sshd, which will create keys on first use. To make the service autostart on boot, remove /etc/service/sshd/down.

Edit /etc/rc.local for other things to autostart, such as network configuration, DHCP, console keymapping...

If you have X installed, edit the example /bin/X for the correct evdev settings, then run startx. Check /etc/xinitrc for X11 keyboard configuration.

Cross-Compile Requirements:

  • musl-cross or musl-cross-make for your target arch.
  • butch installed for the build host in $PATH (since it lives in KEEP/bin, adding that to $PATH will also do).
  • pkgconf symlinked as pkg-config in $PATH, before other pkg-config versions. a standard pkg-config installed on the host may also work, but is untested.
  • Packages may have a section listing further packages required on the host.

The only tested cross-compile setup is a Sabotage host that has the same packages installed as the ones you wish to compile.

If you intend to cross-compile only packages written in C, the choice of the version of your cross-compiler is not important. If you however intend to compile also C++ packages, you should use either GCC 4.7.4 from musl-cross and install gcc474 into the rootfs, or use musl-cross-make with GCC 6.3.0, and install gcc630 into the rootfs. that is necessary so the applications are built against the same libstdc++ they'll be bundled together with

Cross-Compile Instructions:

$ mkdir x-prefix/powerpc
$ cd x-prefix/powerpc
$ cp SABOTAGEDIR/KEEP/config.cross config
$ vi config # set your vars
$ CONFIG=./config SABOTAGEDIR/utils/ # initialize rootfs
$ CONFIG=./config butch install nano # start building stuff

Much like a native build, a config file is copied and edited. utils/ is run instead of ./build-stage0 to construct the new root. Finally, we use butch to start cross-compiling and installing packages into it. Unlike native compilation, you don't have to build any stages, you can immediately start compiling the packages you're interested in. If you intend to use the resulting rootfs to boot into, you should however start with building stage1 or stage2.


Please use unified diff format (diff -u) for patches.

Use Git

It is necessary that you create git branches for your work. This allows your changes to be checked out and rebased as needed, without merge conflicts.

Do not commit more than one change/package in a single commit. Use a meaningful commit message that mentions the package name. Please follow the style and conventions of your fellow contributors.

Use Templates

When creating packages, try starting from the autoconf template:

$ cp KEEP/pkg_skel/autoconf pkg/my-new-pkg

There are other convenient templates located in KEEP/pkg_skel/ as well.

Try running utils/

$ utils/

utils/ will return the file stats and sha512sum for easy copying and pasting into your new package.

Package Name Guideline

Package names may consist of the following characters: a-z 0-9 - i.e: lower-case and numbers only, dash to separate.

Perl5 modules from cpan must be named as perl5-Module-Submodule, for examples perl5-XML-Parser. Uppercase should be applied exactly as in the module name.

Python modules must be named as python-module. example: python-setuptools

Following this convention makes it possible to use package names in regexes or URLs without having to escape or encode/decode them.

Package Sources and Philosophy

Sabotage is designed with limited internet availability in mind. After downloading packages in advance, when you have internet, you may build later offline at your leisure.

Space considerations are a top issue, both bandwidth and HD image size. Sabotage ISOs and images ship with all tarballs to fulfill the GPL. ALWAYS USE a TAR.XZ (preferred) or TAR.BZ2 download URL.

Please do not use FTP mirrors. FTP is a broken, ancient protocol.

Downloads from git or other source repositories are not desired. This would add an internet connection as a build-time dependency.

Package maintainance

Even though the sabotage linux team is at the moment rather small, we try to keep all packages up-to-date, if possible. Updating a package usually requires at least one test build, and eventually one or more fixes and another rebuild for each fix. So under some circumstances, this might require several hours of work. Since our time is limited, some non-core packages that lack a maintainer and we consider of low importance will be updated (upstream URL) without a build test and marked as [untested] in the commit message. Those packages may or may not build. If you find a build error in such a package feel free to report the error or even better, fix it, make a PR and claim maintainership.


Sabotage originally was a distribution curated by chris2, based around shell scripts and Plan 9's mk. This was possible through the help and inspiration of dalias, niklata, garbeam, pikhq, xmw, gaf and Arch Linux.


There is a mailing list:

Email and follow its instructions to subscribe.

Archives available:

You may also /join #sabotage or #musl on for real time help.



Bitcoins are welcome: