list2pkg User Manual

Sebastien Vasey

list2pkg 1.3-4-g8b1920d-+

I hereby release this software in the public domain. This means that you can use and distribute it in whatever way you see fit. However, if you want to re-publish it, I ask you to please put a link to its web page, and mention my name. You are not forced to do it, but that would be a way to say thanks ! See also: My copyright page

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
What is list2pkg ?
2. Getting started
Installing list2pkg
Extracting the tarball
Building the documentation
Running the installation script
Creating your first package
The file list
The package tree
The package file
Putting it all together
The package's content
3. Using list2pkg
Customizing your package
Changing makepkg's behavior
Changing the content of the install/ directory
Changing the package tree's content
Users and groups handling
The perfect package
The package's file name
Install locations
Permissions and Ownership
Tricky cases
Symbolic links
4. Contributing to list2pkg

Chapter 1. Introduction

Table of Contents

What is list2pkg ?

What is list2pkg ?

List2pkg is a program to create Slackware packages in a simple way. More precisely, given a list of files, it will create a slackware package containing these files. A user trying to install that package will see the same files installed at the same locations they were on your system.

List2pkg is especially useful if you have installed a program from source and, knowing where all its files are, you want to create a slackware package to ease another installation.

List2pkg was originally created to create Slackware package using urpkg .

List2pkg is public-domain software, written in Perl.

Chapter 2. Getting started

Installing list2pkg


You need a UNIX-like system for list2pkg to work. I have tested it on GNU/Linux, but other systems should work as well. You will also need root access on that system, since otherwise some ownership information might not be correctly preserved.


list2pkg relies on a few external tools to do its job properly. Most of them should already be installed on your system. They are listed below.

Extracting the tarball

First, extract the list2pkg tarball and cd to it.

    $ tar -xf <Your .tar.gz file>
    $ cd <filename without .tar.gz>

Building the documentation

If you have downloaded a release tarball, you should skip this step, since the html and man documentation has already been compiled for you. Otherwise, you can build the documentation by doing the following.

    $ ./helpers/ .

Running the installation script

Installing list2pkg is very simple: you just have to invoke the script. First, you must choose where you want list2pkg installed. There are several variables you can give to the installation script to change that.

  • PREFIX: The installation prefix, defaulting to /usr/local. All list2pkg files will be installed there.

  • SYSCONFDIR: The system configuration directory, defaulting to ${PREFIX}/etc. The list2pkg configuration file will be installed there.

  • DOCDIR: Where list2pkg's documentation will be installed. It defaults to ${PREFIX}/share/doc

  • MANDIR: Where list2pkg's manpages will be installed. It defaults to ${PREFIX}/share/man

For example, to install list2pkg in a /usr prefix and the configuration file in /etc, you can do

    $ sudo PREFIX=/usr SYSCONFDIR=/etc ./

Creating your first package

In order to test what list2pkg can do, we are going to create a test package. A testing directory is included with list2pkg . Among other things, it contains some dummy files that can be used to create a package. First, cd to it.

  $ cd testing

The file list

list2pkg takes two arguments: a list of the files that will belong to the package, and the package file we will create. List2pkg can also read a file list from standard input.

The format of a list is very simple: each line must contains the path to a file. This path can either be absolute (recommended) or relative to the directory from which list2pkg is invoked.

For this first example, we are going to use the list of files in filelist, which contains files in src. Feel free to look around.

    $ cat filelist
    $ ls -lR src

Note an important detail: if directories are given in the file list, they will not be copied recursively. This means that if the file /home is in your list, the package will not contain all files from all home directories, but only an empty /home directory.

The package tree

list2pkg does not create the slackware package directly using the files that are given in the list. Instead, it copies those files to a temporary directory, do some adjustments there, and then call makepkg, which is Slackware's standard tool for package creation. This temporary directory is called the package tree directory by list2pkg .

If the user does not specify one, list2pkg creates a temporary directory in e.g /var/tmp, do its stuff and then remove the directory. If a package tree directory is given on the command line, the package structure is created inside instead, and it is not deleted at the end of the process.

Since you want to have a clue what is going on, we are going to use our own package tree directory.

    $ mkdir treedir

The package file

Following Slackware package's convention, the file name must have several information in it: the program's name, the version, the machine it was compiled for, and the creator's name along with the build version. Each of these fields must be separated by a dash. After this, the file extension, .tgz must follow. For more information on Slackware package naming, see The Perfect Package

As an example, we will use test-0.1-noarch-2usr.tgz as a package name.

Putting it all together

It's now time to run the package-creating command

    $ sudo list2pkg --treedir=treedir --verbose filelist \

The command should finish without errors, and a test-0.1-noarch-2usr.tgz file should have been created. Note that you need root privilege, because otherwise some owner and groups information might not be saved correctly. You can check that all files in the file list have been packed correctly (there are subtleties related to symlinks that are explained in the section called “Tricky cases”)

    $ tar --list --verbose -f test-0.1-noarch-2usr.tgz
    $ ls -lR treedir

The package's content

Notice that an install/ directory with the necessary files has been created automatically. A minimalist install/slack-desc file was created, along with a script. This file deserves special attention. You should see some special commands between the #BEGIN: AUTO_LIST2PKG and #END: AUTO_LIST2PKG comments. Here is what mine looks like.

    groupadd john || (if test $? -ne 9; then exit 1; fi)
    useradd john || (if test $? -ne 9; then exit 1; fi)
    chown -v john home/john || exit 1
    chgrp -v john home/john || exit 1
    chmod -v 755 home/john || exit 1
    chown -v john home/john/rep || exit 1
    chgrp -v john home/john/rep || exit 1
    chmod -v 775 home/john/rep || exit 1
    chown -v john home/john/rep/list2pkg || exit 1
    chgrp -v john home/john/rep/list2pkg || exit 1
    chmod -v 775 home/john/rep/list2pkg || exit 1
    chown -v john home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing || exit 1
    chgrp -v john home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing || exit 1
    chmod -v 775 home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing || exit 1
    chown -v john home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing/src || exit 1
    chgrp -v john home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing/src || exit 1
    chmod -v 775 home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing/src || exit 1
    chown -v john home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing/src/dir2 || exit 1
    chgrp -v john home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing/src/dir2 || exit 1
    chmod -v 775 home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing/src/dir2 || exit 1
    chown -v john home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing/src/dir1 || exit 1
    chgrp -v john home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing/src/dir1 || exit 1
    chmod -v 775 home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing/src/dir1 || exit 1
    chown -v john home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing/src/dir3 || exit 1
    chgrp -v john home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing/src/dir3 || exit 1
    chmod -v 775 home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing/src/dir3 || exit 1
    chown -v john home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing/src/dir3/dir4 || exit 1
    chgrp -v john home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing/src/dir3/dir4 || exit 1
    chmod -v 775 home/john/rep/list2pkg/testing/src/dir3/dir4 || exit 1

(yes, my username is john). This script actually tries to recreate the owners and groups of the package's file, in case they do not exist on the target system. If you don't like this, you can use the list2pkg.conf file. See the section called “Users and groups handling” for more information.

Chapter 3. Using list2pkg

Customizing your package

Sometimes, you might want to change the default way list2pkg acts, or do something special that list2pkg could not do for you on your package. This section gives some example of things you can do using list2pkg's options.

Changing makepkg's behavior

As mentioned previously, the last step of list2pkg's creation of a package is to call makepkg . The --linkadd, --prepend and --chown options will be passed to it as is.

Changing the content of the install/ directory

The install/ directory contains special files the slackware package management tools use to know how to install the package. The only file that must exist is the slack-desc file which gives a plain text description of the package. The slack-desc file which list2pkg creates is not especially good in that respect, so you might want to add your own slack-desc. To do that, you can use the --slack-desc option.

Another important file is the script, which gets executed after an installation. You can give your own custom script using the --doinst option. List2pkg will then append its own commands to it.

There are other files which can be in install/ that list2pkg does not support. Among them are files like slack-required or slack-conflicts. You can specify a directory with other files to copy to install using the --install-files option.

Changing the package tree's content

Once the package tree has been created, you might want to change a few details. For example, you might want to move all files in /usr/local to /usr in order to create a more standard-compliant package. List2pkg cannot do that directly, but it lets you run any script you want once the package tree directory has been created. The script will be invoked with the tree's path as first argument. The option to use is --changetree .

Users and groups handling

List2pkg handles file owners and groups in a peculiar way. For each of the package's file, it will check if its owner or group is special. A special owner or group name is not standard and matters enough for it to be re-created explicitly on any system the package is installed on.

If, for example you are creating a package for the cron daemon, you will want the cron user to be created on the target system, since some of the package's file will likely be set user id. On the other hand, the user root is generally not special, since it exists on virtually all UNIX-like systems.

Note that by default, all files in the package will have root as owner and group, meaning that files with non-special owners or groups will lose them and be installed with root owner and group on the target system. You can use the --no-root-ownership to prevent list2pkg from resetting the owner and group of every file to root.

By default, all user and group names are special except root . Any user or group beginning with urpkg- or urpkgrp- is also considered non-special, for reasons that will become obvious to you if you use urpkg . If you don't you shouldn't have any user or group name formatted that way.

The exclude rules configuration file

Those default rules can be changed. In fact, they are read from a configuration file in ${SYSCONFDIR}/list2pkg.conf (by default /usr/local/etc/list2pkg.conf). You can either modify that file or override it when calling list2pkg using the --exclude-ownership option.

The format of the file is simple. Each line contains a regular expression that will be matched against each owner or group name. Assuming the line's content is held in the variable EXPR , the matching Perl code will be the following.

$NAME =~ /^$EXPR$/

If the expression matches, the name will be considered as non-special, otherwise it will be considered special.

The perfect package

The reference document I used on the format of a Slackware package is LinuxPackages's The Perfect Package (TPP) . In this section, I will try to sum-up this document and explain how list2pkg support each important item.

The package's file name

According to TPP, the package's file name should be formatted in a very strict way. It should be made of several fields, including the program name, version number and architecture, all separated by dashes. List2pkg does not directly enforce this rule, because makepkg should output a warning if the name is not standard.

Install locations

A good Slackware packages has its files in LSB standard locations. For example, no files should be in /usr/local because this is reserved for files that do not come from a package.

List2pkg does not do anything to enforce this for the moment. However, the script which can be given using the --changetree option can do it. Maybe in the future there will be standard scripts that list2pkg will run by default, and which will take care of fixing install locations inside the package tree. If you wrote a script you think could be included as a default script, please send it to me (see Chapter 4, Contributing to list2pkg).

Similarly, you can also write scripts to strip executable or gzip manpages.

Permissions and Ownership

I have tried hard to make list2pkg keep all permissions of all files and directories given in the file list. This way if the permissions are correctly set on your system, then those in the package should also be correct. If you think permissions are mishandled in some way by list2pkg, it's worth reporting the bug to me.


list2pkg automatically creates a standard slack-desc file. However, it is unable to put useful content in it, so you might want to create your own and add it using the --slack-desc option.

Tricky cases

A package rarely contains only regular files. Most often, it contains oddities like directories or even symbolic links . This section explains how list2pkg deals with those when they are part of the file list.


list2pkg tries to preserve a directory's permission and ownership. However, as previously mentioned, it will not copy its content if it is not explicitly given in the file list. For example, if the file list contains only /home, the package will only have an empty /home directory in it.

Symbolic links

A symbolic link can be in the file list in two ways: it can be explicitly given, i.e as if it were a regular file, or it can be implicitly given, i.e as if it was part of the file's path.

For example, if /lib/ is a symbolic link to , and /lib/ is given on the file list, then it is considered an explicit symlink. However, if /usr/share/man is a symlink to /usr/man, and one file which is in the file list is /usr/share/man/man1/ld.1 , then it is considered an implicit symlink.

Explicit symlinks are copied as is to the package tree directory. Regardless of whether they are absolute or relative symlinks, they should be recreated on the target system.

On the other hand, path involving implicit symlinks are not created as they are given on the file list. Instead, all symbolic links are first resolved before the file's copy. Therefore, if we take our /usr/share/man/man1/ld.1 example, it will be created as /usr/man/man1/ld.1 in the package.


This section contains the manpages of the commands part of list2pkg.


list2pkg — Create Slackware packages from file lists




List2pkg is a program to create Slackware packages in a simple way. More precisely, given a list of files, it will create a slackware package containing these files. A user trying to install that package will see the same files installed at the same locations they were on your system.

List2pkg takes two arguments: a file list and the path to the package file which will be created. If the file list argument is omitted or -, the list will be read from standard input.


Note that each option can be abbreviated and will be recognized if unambiguous.


Print a short description of each option and exit.


Output version information and exit.


Print more information on what the program does to stdout


Print only warnings and error messages


Copy the files to that directory before creating the package. By default, a temporary directory is created in /var/tmp and deleted afterward.


Once the package directory tree has been created, that script will be run with the tree's path as first argument, so that you can do your own custom changes to the tree.


Give the path to a custom script to be copied to the package's install/ directory.


Give the path to a custom slack-desc file to be copied to the package's install/ directory.


Give the path to a directory where other files that will be copied to the install/ directory are.


If this is given, the files in the package will not have their owner and group reset to root before being packed.


Give a custom file specifying rules concerning what group and user are created on the target system by the script. The default file is in ${SYSCONFDIR}/list2pkg.conf. See the FILES section for more information on the file's syntax.


This option is passed as is to makepkg. The default is 'y'


If specified, this is passed to makepkg. By default, this is not.


This option is passed as is to makepkg. The default is 'n'


List2pkg uses the ${SYSCONFDIR}/list2pkg.conf configuration file to know which owner or group name to consider as worth re-creating on the target system. All names which do not match the regular expressions in that file and are owner or group of one of the files in the package tree will be re-created on the target system.

The file syntax is as follows. Each line is matched as a perl regular expression the following way (consider EXPR is whatever is written on the line)

$NAME =~ /^$EXPR$/

If this matches, then the user or group name will not be created on the target system.

See Also

urpkg(1), makepkg(1)


Please report bugs and other inconsistencies you find to the author (address is below). If you have implemented a patch, please do send it there. Any contribution is welcome. See also list2pkg's website:


list2pkg is public-domain software. See the COPYING file for more information.


The author is Sebastien Vasey (sebastien dot vasey at gmail dot com)


List2pkg is far from perfect. Here is a list of bugs that are known and should be fixed in a subsequent release. If you want to help, see Chapter 4, Contributing to list2pkg

No bugs known so far. I would be very pleased if you found one :-) .


This section lists some tasks that haven't been done and might show up in a future release. They are only at the stage of random ideas. If you want to implement one of them, please see Chapter 4, Contributing to list2pkg

  • Write some standard scripts that enforces standard location, stripping of executable, gzipping of manpages...

  • Avoid the need for root privilege when creating the package


Don't hesitate to ask questions. See Chapter 4, Contributing to list2pkg

Chapter 4. Contributing to list2pkg

There are several ways you can contribute to list2pkg. One way is to report bugs, another way is to help writing documentation (or correct the existing one. I think there is already a fair number of English mistakes in that document :-) ). You could also try writing patches implementing the features you want that are not yet in list2pkg. Also, simply asking questions (that are not answered within this manual) is a great way to participate.

Whatever you decide to do, please send the content to sebastien dot vasey at gmail dot com

List2pkg also has a webpage. See the list2pkg webpage for the most up to date information.

Reporting bugs

So you have found a bug ? Great ! Please report it to me. But before doing that, ensure that...

  • The bug still exists in the latest version of list2pkg

  • You are able to reproduce the bug.

When you report a bug, you should always, if possible

  • Include information on how to reproduce the bug

  • Include as verbose as possible output from your program. This means running list2pkg with the --verbose switch if possible.

  • Include the versions of list2pkg on which the bug applies (use --version).