Alpine Linux in a chroot

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Revision as of 10:48, 27 January 2018 by Juef (talk | contribs) (fix a typo)
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This document explains how to set up an Alpine build environment in a chroot under a different Linux distro, such as Arch, Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, or Ubuntu. Once inside the chroot environment, you can build, debug, and run alpine packages. The guide can also be used to install Alpine Linux from a non-Alpine Linux livecd such as Ubuntu or System rescue CD.

This example installation of Alpine Linux in a chroot will work with the latest release. But it's also possible to make a chroot with edge or older releases of Alpine Linux to test backports.

You can also use script alpine-chroot-install that simplifies this process to just two commands. This script is useful especially on CI environment (e.g. Travis CI).


For the base Alpine Linux you will only need around 6MB of free space; though to build packages you'll need at least 500 MB.


The variables below:

Set up APK

Tip: In the command below, replace x86_64 with x86 if running on a 32 bit installation
Warning: You will need Kernel version 2.6.22 or later to use apk-tools-static

Download the latest apk static package (replace ${version} with actual version):

wget ${mirror}/latest-stable/main/x86_64/apk-tools-static-${version}.apk

.apk packages are just gzipped tarballs, unpack using:

tar -xzf apk-tools-static-*.apk

Install the alpine base installation onto the chroot

./sbin/apk.static -X ${mirror}/latest-stable/main -U --allow-untrusted --root ${chroot_dir} --initdb add alpine-base

Set up the chroot

Set up some devices in the chroot

Tip: Manually creating devices is not needed if you choose to mount /dev of the hosts in the chroot described later.

mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/full c 1 7 mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/ptmx c 5 2 mknod -m 644 ${chroot_dir}/dev/random c 1 8 mknod -m 644 ${chroot_dir}/dev/urandom c 1 9 mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/zero c 1 5 mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/tty c 5 0

If you need SCSI disc access:

mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/sda b 8 0 mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/sda1 b 8 1 mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/sda2 b 8 2 mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/sda3 b 8 3 mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/sda4 b 8 4 mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/sda5 b 8 5 mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/sda6 b 8 6 mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/sdb b 8 16 mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/sdb1 b 8 17 mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/sdb2 b 8 18 mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/sdb3 b 8 19 mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/sdb4 b 8 20 mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/sdb5 b 8 21 mknod -m 666 ${chroot_dir}/dev/sdb6 b 8 22

A resolv.conf is needed for name resolution:

cp /etc/resolv.conf ${chroot_dir}/etc/ mkdir -p ${chroot_dir}/root

If you don't want to copy the resolv.conf from the local machine, you can create a new one using OpenDNS servers (or any other):

echo -e 'nameserver\nnameserver 2620:0:ccc::2' > ${chroot_dir}/etc/resolv.conf

Set up APK mirror (replace ${branch} with the latest stable branch name, e.g. v3.3):

mkdir -p ${chroot_dir}/etc/apk echo "${mirror}/${branch}/main" > ${chroot_dir}/etc/apk/repositories

Entering your chroot

At this point, Alpine has been succesfully installed onto the chroot directory. Before you chroot in you will probably want to mount /proc and /sys in the chroot:

mount -t proc none ${chroot_dir}/proc mount -o bind /sys ${chroot_dir}/sys

If you don't want to create special device files yourself, mount the hosts device directory onto the chroot:

mount -o bind /dev ${chroot_dir}/dev

You can now chroot:

chroot ${chroot_dir} /bin/sh -l

To make the system actually bootable, we need to add some initscripts to appropriate runlevels:

rc-update add devfs sysinit rc-update add dmesg sysinit rc-update add mdev sysinit rc-update add hwclock boot rc-update add modules boot rc-update add sysctl boot rc-update add hostname boot rc-update add bootmisc boot rc-update add syslog boot rc-update add mount-ro shutdown rc-update add killprocs shutdown rc-update add savecache shutdown

Alpine Linux has a great meta-package for building Alpine packages from source available called alpine-sdk. To install, run:

apk add alpine-sdk

If you are using Alpine as a Native build system you will have to make sure that chroot can run chmod. Add following to /etc/sysctl.conf

kernel.grsecurity.chroot_deny_chmod = 0

Then run the following command

sysctl -p

Alpine Linux in a chroot on Fedora

If you want to generate a chroot on a Fedora based system, you can use this script.

Note: Maybe you are able to use this script on other distribution but this is not tested.


WARNING: Ignoring APKINDEX.xxxx.tar.gz

Make sure ${chroot_dir}/etc/apk/repositories is valid and inside the chroot run:

apk update