Comparison with other distros

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Even if Alpine is designed to run from RAM, it has some similarities in package management with other distributions. This page outlines those similarities and differences, to help new users use Alpine and understand the differences between Alpine and other distributions.

Note: The page was originally copied from: http://gentoo-wiki.com/TIP_Converting_from_or_to_Debian


Package management

Where Gentoo has portage and emerge; Debian has, among others, apt; Alpine uses apk-tools. This section compares how apk-tools is used, in comparison to apt and emerge.

Updating package database

Gentoo will update the build-from-source scripts and the updating of the database takes much more time than updating the database for Debian or Alpine.

Alpine

apk update

Debian

apt update

Gentoo

emerge --sync

Showing available updates

Show which packages have an update available:

Alpine

apk version -v

or:

apk version -v -l '<'

Gentoo

emerge --deep --update --pretend @world

Debian

apt upgrade --simulate

Updating a particular package

Alpine

apk add -u package1 package2

or

apk upgrade package1 package2

Debian

apt install package1 package2

Gentoo

emerge --update package1 package2

Installing packages

Alpine

apk add package1 package2

For source compile, see the Aports tree and the abuild tool.

Gentoo

emerge package1 package2

Debian

apt-get install package1 package2

Debian source compile:

apt-get build-dep package1
apt-get source package1

(optional: customize the build by modifying the debian/rules makefile) (or set environmental variables like DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS) (note that this will make your bug reports invalid to the maintainer)

dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -uc -b
dpkg -i generatedpackagename

Simplified source compile:

apt-get build-dep package1
apt-get -b source package1

(the packages are automatically generated using the -b switch above)

Note: This process can be used to backport packages from testing and unstable by simply adding their respective source repositories to sources.list, which is similar to adding ~x86 to package.keywords in Gentoo. This is explored further in the "Architectures and repositories" section below.

Reinstalling particular packages

Alpine

apk del package1 package2 && apk add package1 package2

or:

apk fix package1 package2

Gentoo

emerge --oneshot package1 package2

Debian

apt-get install --reinstall package1 package2

Note: You rarely need to reinstall a package on Debian

Searching the package database

Alpine

Alpine will only search package names.

apk search searchword

Gentoo

To search the package names and descriptions:

emerge --searchdesc searchword

Note: On Gentoo, it's actually much better to install and use the eix package to do a search. You use them like this:

eix searchword

Debian

apt-cache search searchword

Both emerge and apt-cache search support regular expressions.

To get the long package information on Debian (searching only in package names):

apt-cache search --full --names-only searchword

Removing packages

Alpine

apk del package1 package2

apk del will remove configuration files when the --purge flag is used. Make sure you have backups of your configuration files.

You will mostly like to take a quick look at the dependencies before you remove packages recursively.

To see dependencies for a package, use:

apk info -R package1 package2

To see if package is required by other packages (is a dependency for another packages), use:

apk info -r package1 package2


Gentoo

The correct way to remove packages on gentoo.

emerge --depclean package1 package2

In case you know what you're doing, you may skip dependency checks and potentiality leave your system in broken state.

emerge --unmerge package1 package2

Debian

apt-get remove package1 package2

or to remove along with all configuration files

apt-get remove --purge package1 package2

Only downloading packages

This can be useful e.g. if you're on a dial-up connection and want to download everything first and install later.

Alpine

apk fetch package1 package2

Gentoo

emerge --fetchonly package1 package2

Debian

apt-get install --download-only package1 package2

Cleaning up downloaded packages

Compressed packages that were downloaded for installation can easily consume gigabytes of storage space.

Alpine

Alpine will clean up packages automatically.

Gentoo

The following command will leave /var/cache/distfiles/ folder intact, while deleting all children.

find /var/cache/distfiles/ -mindepth 1 -delete

To only remove outdated packages you will need to install the gentoolkit package and use eclean:

eclean distfiles

Cleaning temporary files from emerging packages:

rm -rf /var/tmp/portage/*

Debian

apt-get clean

Only remove outdated packages:

apt-get autoclean

Reverse dependencies

Alpine

apk-tools will take care of reverse dependencies.

Gentoo

Recent versions of portage include library tracking and preservation with the preserved-libs feature. Portage will notify you to run

emerge @preserved-rebuild

to help rebuild binaries that might otherwise become broken.

Debian

Reverse dependencies are taken care of by dpkg.

Runlevel & Initscripts

Runlevels work pretty conventionally on Debian (see details: systemd[Dead Link]). On Alpine and Gentoo, they are a bit different.

Directories and files

Out of date clock icon.svg
This material is obsolete ...

… concerning mainstream Debian, that now relies on systemd. It might continuously be valuable in reference to non-systemd Devuan, for example (Discuss)

In Debian, runlevels are named conventionally (0-6 and S). They are represented by directories in /etc/ called rc*.d (when the default sysv-rc boot loader package is installed; file-rc can be installed instead, and then the relevant file is runlevel.conf).

  • /etc/rc0.d
  • /etc/rc1.d
  • /etc/rcS.d
  • /etc/rc2.d
  • /etc/rc3.d
  • /etc/rc4.d
  • /etc/rc5.d
  • /etc/rc6.d

In Gentoo, runlevels have the same names, but these are mapped to more self explanatory ones (in /etc/inittab): "boot", "default", "nonetwork", with the option to add more. The directories that represent them are in /etc/runlevels/:

  • /etc/runlevels/boot
  • /etc/runlevels/default
  • /etc/runlevels/nonetwork

In Gentoo, if a service is not explicitly started in a runlevel, it is stopped when switching to that runlevel! There is no explicit stopping of runlevels as in Debian (/etc/rc?.d/K??service).

In both Debian and Gentoo, which things are started (and stopped) in which runlevels is controlled by links in the runlevel directories to scripts in /etc/init.d/, e.g.: Gentoo

$ ls -l /etc/runlevels/boot/hostname
lrwxrwxrwx  1 root root 20 Mar 25  2004 /etc/runlevels/boot/hostname -> /etc/init.d/hostname

Debian

$ ls -l rcS.d/S40hostname.sh
lrwxrwxrwx  1 root root 21 2004-11-07 00:19 rcS.d/S40hostname.sh -> ../init.d/hostname.sh

Alpine

In Alpine, runlevels work like they do in Gentoo:

  • /etc/runlevels/boot
  • /etc/runlevels/default
  • /etc/runlevels/sysinit
  • /etc/runlevels/nonetwork
  • /etc/runlevels/shutdown

Runlevel management

To manage which things to start in which runlevels, use the following commands:

Alpine

To see current status of services in runlevels, do:

rc-status

To add sshd to default runlevel, do:

rc-update add sshd default

To remove sshd from all runlevels do:

rc-update del sshd

Gentoo

rc-update

To add the cupsd to the default runlevel, do:

rc-update add cupsd default

To remove alsasound from the boot runlevel, do:

rc-update del alsasound boot

Also see this wiki page about gentoo runlevel management with rc-update

Out of date clock icon.svg
This material is obsolete ...

Debian now uses systemd. (Discuss)

Debian

update-rc.d

Configure cupsd to be started in runlevels 2, 3, 4, 5, and stopped in 0, 1, 6, with sequence code 20:

update-rc.d cupsd start 20 2 3 4 5 . stop 20 0 1 6 . 

or simply:

update-rc.d cupsd defaults 

Remove cupsd from all runlevels:

update-rc.d -f cupsd remove

Config Files

/etc/portage/make.conf and use flags

While in Gentoo there's a large number of configuration files which control the behaviour of the package management system, there are comparatively fewer in Debian, as there is no need to dictate how to compile software which is downloaded and tweak/alter it. In Gentoo, the file /etc/portage/make.conf is used for much configuration; this includes USE flags, which influence which elements of packages are compiled, and which libraries to build support for - common USE flags (USE or -USE to specifically negate support) include 'gtk gnome' for Gnome users (and a corresponding -qt -kde -arts) and 'qt kde arts' for KDE users. A Gentoo user's complete set of use flags may look something like this:

USE="-kde -arts -qt xv truetype bluetooth crypt slang readline gpm berkdb mmx gdbm tcpd pam libwww ssl nls ethereal perl python esd gif imlib sdl oggvorbis mpeg gnome gtk X motif opengl avi png tiff nptl pcmcia nptl ldap eds"

Architectures and repositories

Gentoo

Also in /etc/portage/make.conf is the ACCEPT_KEYWORDS setting, with (for an X86-based processor) two settings, x86 for stabler packages, and ~x86 for bleeding edge packages. It is however not recommended to make this change in /etc/portage/make.conf. Rather configure this per-package in /etc/portage/package.accept_keywords. It's enough to put a line into that file naming the package (for example 'app-foo/bar'). That file might look like this:

app-crypt/gpg-agent
app-text/docbook-xsl-stylesheets
=app-text/docbook-xml-dtd-4.3-r1

The last line says, that only version 4.3-r1 should be unmasked. Older and newer versions will still be ignored.

Note for non-x86 users: The keywords x86 and ~x86 can of course be replaced by sparc and ~sparc for example.

Debian

Setting this in Debian is slightly more complicated, and is accomplished by setting different 'repositories' in /etc/apt/sources.list - along with which 'tree' to use for packages; in Debian, these are stable, testing, and unstable. An /etc/apt/sources.list file for a debian testing user may look something like this:

deb http://mirrors.kernel.org/debian testing main non-free contrib
deb ftp://ftp.nerim.net/debian-marillat testing main
deb http://security.debian.org testing/updates main contrib non-free

Alternatively, /etc/apt/sources.list can contain any number of repositories for any trees, and a default tree (this can be overridden using the -t switch on the command line) in /etc/apt/apt.conf:

  APT::Default-Release "testing";

Per-package settings go in /etc/apt/preferences, somewhat like Gentoo's /etc/portage/package.keywords.

Network

Alpine

Alpine uses /etc/network/interfaces, similar to Debian. Alpine uses busybox's implementation by default.

/etc/network/interfaces:

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static
 address 192.168.0.1
 netmask 255.255.255.0
 broadcast 192.168.0.255
 
auto eth0:0
iface eth0:0 inet static
 address 192.168.1.1
 netmask 255.255.255.0
 broadcast 192.168.1.255
# etc.

Gentoo

Gentoo uses netifrc. This packages is also available in the edge community repository. (Use on Alpine at your own risk.)

/etc/conf.d/net:

config_eth0="192.168.1.100 netmask 255.255.255.0
             192.168.2.100 netmask 255.255.255.0"
routes_eth0="default via 192.168.1.1"

Note that this has changed recently. For more information please refer to http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/handbook/handbook-x86.xml?part=4

Debian

/etc/network/interfaces:

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static
 address 192.168.0.1
 netmask 255.255.255.0
 broadcast 192.168.0.255
 
auto eth0:0
iface eth0:0 inet static
 address 192.168.1.1
 netmask 255.255.255.0
 broadcast 192.168.1.255
# etc.

Comparison chart/Rosetta Stone

This chart shows how some standard things are done in Alpine compared to other distributions. See also the Pacman Rosetta.

Action Alpine (apk) Arch Linux (pacman) Gentoo (emerge) Debian/Ubuntu (apt) Fedora/RHEL/SL/CentOS (DNF) VoidLinux (XBPS)
Update package database

apk update

pacman -Sy

emerge --sync

apt update

dnf update

xbps-install -S

Showing available updates

apk version -l '<'

pacman -Qu

emerge --deep --update --pretend @world

apt upgrade --simulate

dnf list updates

xbps-install -n -u

Installing packages

apk add [package name]

pacman -S [package name]

emerge [package name]

apt install [package name]

dnf install [package name]

xbps-install [package name]

Update all installed packages

apk upgrade -U -a

pacman -Su

emerge --update --deep @world

apt upgrade

dnf update

xbps-install -u

Searching package database

apk search -v '[string]*'

pacman -Ss [string]

emerge --search [string]

apt search [string]

dnf search [string]

xbps-query -Rs [string]

Removing packages

apk del [package name]

pacman -R [package name]

emerge --depclean [package name]

apt remove [package name]

dnf remove [package name]

xbps-remove [package name]