Alpine Linux package management

From Alpine Linux
Revision as of 13:43, 22 April 2010 by Jbilyk (talk | contribs) (Added link to lbu page)
Jump to: navigation, search

Alpine Package Management

Because Alpine Linux is designed to run from RAM, package management involves two phases:

  • Installing / Upgrading / Deleting packages on a running system
  • Restoring a system to a previously configured state (e.g. after reboot), including all previously installed packages and locally modified configuration files.

apk is the tool used to install, upgrade, or delete software on a running sytem lbu is the tool used to capture the data necessary to restore a system to a previously configured state.

This page documents the apk tool - See the Alpine Local Backup page for the lbu tool.

The apk tool has the following applets:

  • add - Add new packages to the running system
  • del - Delete packages from the running system
  • fix - Attempt to repair or upgrade an installed package
  • update - Update the index of available packages
  • info - Prints information about installed or available packages
  • search - Search for packages or descriptions with wildcard patterns
  • upgrade - Upgrade the currently installed packages
  • cache - Maintenance operations for locally cached package repository
  • version - Compare version differences between installed and available packages
  • index - create a repository index from a list of packages
  • fetch - download (but not install) packages
  • audit - List changes to the file system from pristine package install state
  • verify - Verify a package signature

The add, del, and update commands are the only ones required to use Alpine Linux, and are discussed first.

vvvv Ignore info below this line vvvvvvv

Adding packages

Use apk_add to install packages.

If you want to install openssh for example, you run:

apk_add openssh

apk_add supports installation from cdrom, usb, http, ftp, ssh (scp) and rsync. scp is only available if openssh or dropbear is installed and rsync is only available if rsync is installed.


Sometimes you would like to see what would get installed if you install a package, or what dependencies would be pulled in by the package. You can see this using:

apk_add -n openssh

Removing packages

Removing packages is done using:

% apk_delete openssh

To remove a package plus it's dependencies, use:

% apk_delete -R openssh

Even more dangerous is:

% apk_delete -r openssl

which will delete openssl plus all packages that depend on it.

Since removing packages (recursively) can seriously damage your system, it is best to use:

% apk_delete -n openssh

Which will not really remove the package, but just show what it would do.

Looking for packages?

To see the packages available in the repository, use:

% apk_fetch -l

Or you might use:

 % apk_fetch -l -v

Which will also show the version number of the available packages.

If the text scrolls by too fast you can use:

% apk_fetch -l | less

Info about your packages

There are several other commands that give more information about the packages installed on your system.

To see the contents of a certain package, use:

% apk_info -L openssh

To see the size of a package, use:

% apk_info -s openssh

To see all packages that depend on a package, eg zlib:

% apk_glob -r zlib

To find out to what package a certain file or directory belongs to, eg /etc/shorewall:

% apk_info -W /etc/shorewall

Upgrading alpine

The easiest way to upgrade alpine is to safe your settings to floppy or usb-key and reboot using a new CD. But there are several other possibilities a well:

  • Change the CD, but do not reboot
  • Update over network

Changing the CD, no reboot

First update the package list:

% apk_fetch -u 

Check what packages have changed version numbers

% apk_version -v


% apk_version -v -l '<'

Will show you what packages needs to be updated

The first thing to check is whether the apk-tools need to be upgraded, if so, always do this first:

% apk_add -u apk-tools

Now it is time to upgrade the other packages:

% apk_version -q -l '<' | xargs apk_add -u

After your upgrade you might find some apk-new files in /etc,these are upgraded config files. A simple utility to go over these files is:

%  update-conf -l

Update over network

This is about the same as the previous entry. The key-difference is that we will change the install-source for apk. This can be done in two ways, on the command-line, using export or changing an /etc file:

% export APK_PATH= 

or edit apk.conf, and add your requested resource.

% vi /etc/apk.conf

You can use sources from:

  • cdrom
  • http(s)
  • ftp
  • rsync (remember that rsync has to be installed before you can use this! (% apk_add rsync))

After you made this change, continue as the cd-rom upgrade with, etc

% apk_fetch -u