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Automating Slackware's Package Management

Posted 02-20-2013 at 01:45 AM by psionl0
Updated 02-20-2013 at 02:04 AM by psionl0

In my previous blog, I explained how even if you are only installing a couple of files on the system, there were advantages to creating a Slackware package to do so. The example I gave was the files I needed to disable nouveau and use nvidia instead.

This policy paid dividends when I upgraded to Slackware 14.0. The nvidia drivers wouldn't work and I faced the task of upgrading them for 14.0 (which meant remembering stuff I had done 18 months ago). Before doing that, it seemed prudent to just remove the files I had installed for nvidia (where/what were they again?) and see if the new kernel was up to the task. All I had to do was enter the command: "removepkg nvidiaenabled-1.0-noarch-1_gs.tgz" and it was done. The new kernel proved to be up to task so hours of work had been spared.

The problem is that creating a Slackware package by hand can be an involved process (as shown by the steps in my previous blog). I had previously created a package called "moreicons" which added a couple of icons somewhere for use in wbar or idesk. It installed and worked but it wouldn't copy the "slack-desc" so pkgtools had no information to reveal about it (apart from the files). It turns out that "makepkg" is rather fussy about both the structure of the directory you are making a package out of and the name of the package. I couldn't see where I was going wrong so, since it was a minor package, I just left things as they were.

Since that time, I have gained some experience in writing SlackBuild scripts so I decided it was time to make a proper "moreicons" package by writing a script to do so. Slackwiki has a good tutorial on writing SlackBuild scripts to convert a source to a package and has a number of templates you can use to make your own script. Of course, since the main reason for writing a SlackBuild script is that src2pkg has failed to create the package for you, it is not really a task for n00bs. However, for just installing a few files, writing a script is well within the realm of anybody who can use an editor and Slackware's package management tools.

This is a breakdown of the script I wrote for moreicons. The first part just sets up some variables that the script will use. This makes it easy to use the script as a template for installing other files. The usual SlackBuild script uses the /tmp or /tmp/SBo directories to do its work but I saw no advantage of this for such a minor task and kept everything in the current working directory. Note that the build is 2 because it is fixing up build 1.

# Slackware build script for moreicons


set -e # Exit on most errors
The next section is the main part of the script. It deletes the old package directory and creates a new directory structure where the files I want installed will be placed. Note that this script assumes that the icons are present in the current working directory.
rm -rf $PKG
mkdir -p $PKG

# Create the subdirectories and copy the icons into the $PKG directory
mkdir -p $PKG/usr/share/pixmaps
cp -a $CWD/home.png $PKG/usr/share/pixmaps
cp -a $CWD/sw.png $PKG/usr/share/pixmaps
DOCUMENTATION: Since this package is only installing a couple of files, there is strictly no need for any documentation other than the slack-desc. If you are creating the package by hand it is tempting to skip the documentation altogether. However, it is no extra work for the script and by creating a directory for documentation, you avoid the need to hang on to the files you used when creating the script/package. It is usual to keep a copy of the SlackBuild in the documents folder and it is also a good idea to add a README file there too. The README file is basically just the slack-desc without the "moreicons:" bits but I also have the option of adding some extra instructions for my future self. The README is actually created within the script itself so no extra files are involved.
# Copy program documentation into the package
mkdir -p $PKG/usr/doc/$PRGNAM-$VERSION
cat $CWD/$PRGNAM.SlackBuild > $PKG/usr/doc/$PRGNAM-$VERSION/$PRGNAM.SlackBuild

# Create a README file
cat > $PKG/usr/doc/$PRGNAM-$VERSION/README << _EOG
moreicons (extra icons) 

Puts a couple of extra icons into
/usr/share/pixmaps directory
sw.png, home.png 

Used in wbar, idesk etc.

SlackBuild created 19 Feb 2013
Just as the script creates a README file, it also creates the slack-desc. The use of the generic $PRGNAM variable makes this more useful as a template.
# Create a slack-desc file and put it in the install directory
mkdir -p $PKG/install
cat > $PKG/install/slack-desc <<_EOF
$PRGNAM: moreicons (extra icons) 
$PRGNAM: Puts a couple of extra icons into
$PRGNAM: /usr/share/pixmaps directory
$PRGNAM: sw.png, home.png
$PRGNAM: Used in wbar, idesk etc.
$PRGNAM: SlackBuild created 19 Feb 2013
Finally, we build the package.
# Make the package
cd $PKG
/sbin/makepkg -l y -c n $CWD/$PRGNAM-$VERSION-$ARCH-$BUILD$TAG.${PKGTYPE:-tgz}
I have included the moreicons.SlackBuild.txt as an attachment in case anybody would like to use it as a template.
Attached Files
File Type: txt moreicons.SlackBuild.txt (1.2 KB, 7 views)
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