Alpine Linux in a chroot

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Revision as of 21:41, 9 August 2019 by Mckaygerhard (talk | contribs)
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Inside the chroot environment, you can build, debug, and run alpine packages or develop things. It's the most knowed way to do so if not wants to trash your main Alpine system.

This document explains how to set up an Alpine build environment in a chroot under a host Linux distro, can also be used to install Alpine Linux from a non-Alpine Linux livecd.


For the base Alpine Linux you will only need around 12MB of free space; though to build packages you'll need at least 900 MB.


The variables below:

  • ${chroot_dir} = Should point to the chroot directory where you
  • ${mirror} = Should be replaced with one of the available Alpine Linux mirrors.
  • ${arch} = Should be the cpu architecture like x86 (i386) or amd64(x86_64)..

Set up APK

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 ${mirror}/latest-stable/main/${arch}/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

Before made and enter into the chrooted system must be prepared with device nodes and tempfs :

1.A fast way: using bind mount

Warning: Mounts with bind, can mount in read-only the /dev at the alpine chroot so due limited will not touch the access time of the host system

mount /dev/ /alpine/dev/ --bind mount -o remount,ro,bind /alpine/dev

If you need SCSI or R/W access only do the first command, mounting with "ro" makes more secure your chroot.

1.B manual way: creating need nodes

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

2. Made available proc and sys fs

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

3. Make networking resolution access

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

4. prepare the apk sources software

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.

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


chroot: cannot run command ' ... Exec format error

This usually indicates that you booted with one architecture (e.g. armf) and are trying to chroot into another (e.g. x86_64). If you plans to make chroot into another installation must use same arch for both host and hosted chrooted!

Note that with one exception you can run 32 bit x86 chroot in x86_64, but not viceversa!

WARNING: Ignoring APKINDEX.xxxx.tar.gz

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

apk update

External links