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PKG_ADD (1) | General commands | Unix Manual Pages | :man


pkg_add - a utility for installing software package distributions


Technical Details
See Also


pkg_add [-vInfrRMS] [-t template] [-p prefix] [-C chrootdir] pkg-name [pkg-name ...]


The pkg_add command is used to extract packages that have been previously created with the pkg_create(1) command.


.Bf -emphasis Since the pkg_add command may execute scripts or programs contained within a package file, your system may be susceptible to "trojan horses" or other subtle attacks from miscreants who create dangerous package files.

You are advised to verify the competence and identity of those who provide installable package files. For extra protection, use the -M flag to extract the package file, and inspect its contents and scripts to ensure it poses no danger to your system’s integrity. Pay particular attention to any +INSTALL, +POST-INSTALL, +DEINSTALL, +POST-DEINSTALL, +REQUIRE or +MTREE_DIRS files, and inspect the +CONTENTS file for @cwd, @mode (check for setuid), @dirrm, @exec, and @unexec directives, and/or use the pkg_info(1) command to examine the package file.


The following command line arguments are supported:
pkg-name [pkg-name ...]
The named packages are installed. A package name of
will cause pkg_add to read from stdin. If the packages are not found in the current working directory, pkg_add will search them in each directory named by PKG_PATH.
-v Turn on verbose output.
-I If any installation scripts (pre-install or post-install) exist for a given package, do not execute them.
-n Do not actually install a package, just report the steps that would be taken if it was.
-R Do not record the installation of a package. This means that you cannot deinstall it later, so only use this option if you know what you are doing!
-r Use the remote fetching feature. This will determine the appropriate objformat and release and then fetch and install the package.
-f Force installation to proceed even if prerequisite packages are not installed or the requirements script fails. Although pkg_add will still try to find and auto-install missing prerequisite packages, a failure to find one will not be fatal.
-p prefix
Set prefix as the directory in which to extract files from a package. If a package has set its default directory, it will be overridden by this flag. Note that only the first @cwd directive will be replaced, since pkg_add has no way of knowing which directory settings are relative and which are absolute. It is rare in any case to see more than one directory transition made, but when such does happen and you wish to have control over *all* directory transitions, then you may then wish to look into the use of MASTER and SLAVE modes (see the -M and -S options).
-t template
Use template as the input to mktemp(3) when creating a "staging area". By default, this is the string /var/tmp/instmp.XXXXXX, but it may be necessary to override it in the situation where space in your /var/tmp directory is limited. Be sure to leave some number of ‘X’ characters for mktemp(3) to fill in with a unique ID.

You can get a performance boost by setting the staging area template to reside on the same disk partition as target directories for package file installation; often this is /usr.

-M Run in MASTER mode. This is a very specialized mode for running pkg_add and is meant to be run in conjunction with SLAVE mode. When run in this mode, pkg_add does no work beyond extracting the package into a temporary staging area (see the -t option), reading in the packing list, and then dumping it (prefaced by the current staging area) to stdout where it may be filtered by a program such as sed(1). When used in conjunction with SLAVE mode, it allows you to make radical changes to the package structure before acting on its contents.
-S Run in SLAVE mode. This is a very specialized mode for running pkg_add and is meant to be run in conjunction with MASTER mode. When run in this mode, pkg_add expects the release contents to be already extracted and waiting in the staging area, the location of which is read as a string from stdin. The complete packing list is also read from stdin, and the contents then acted on as normal.
-C chrootdir
Before doing any operations, chroot(2) to the chrootdir directory so that all package files, and the package database, are installed to chrootdir. Note that chrootdir needs to be a fairly complete file system, including everything normally needed by pkg_add to run. This flag was added to help support operations done by sysinstall(8) and is not expected to be useful for much else. Be careful that chrootdir is properly configured and cannot be modified by normal users, versions of commands like fetch(1) may be run inside chrootdir as a side effect.

One or more pkg-name arguments may be specified, each being either a file containing the package (these usually end with a ".tbz" suffix) or a URL pointing at a file available on an ftp site. Thus you may extract files directly from their anonymous ftp locations (e.g. pkg_add ftp://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/packages/shells/bash-1.14.7.tbz). Note: If you wish to use
.Bf -emphasis passive mode
.Ef ftp in such transfers, set the variable
.Bf -emphasis FTP_PASSIVE_MODE
.Ef to some value in your environment. Otherwise, the more standard ACTIVE mode may be used. If pkg_add consistently fails to fetch a package from a site known to work, it may be because you have a firewall that demands the usage of
.Bf -emphasis passive mode
.Ef ftp.


The pkg_add utility extracts each package’s "packing list" into a special staging directory in /tmp (or $PKG_TMPDIR if set), parses it, and then runs through the following sequence to fully extract the contents of the package:
  1. A check is made to determine if the package is already recorded as installed. If it is, installation is terminated.
  2. A check is made to determine if the package conflicts (from @conflicts directives, see pkg_create(1)) with an already-installed package. If it is, installation is terminated.
  3. Scan all the package dependencies (from @pkgdep directives, see pkg_create(1)) are read from the packing list. If any of these required packages is not currently installed, an attempt is made to find and install it; if the missing package cannot be found or installed, the installation is terminated.
  4. Search for any @option directives which control how the package is added to the system. At the time of this writing, the only currently implemented option is @option extract-in-place which will cause the package to be extracted directly into its prefix directory without moving through a staging area in /tmp.
  5. If @option extract-in-place is enabled, the package is now extracted directly into its final location, otherwise it is extracted into the staging area.
  6. If the package contains a require file (see pkg_create(1)), then execute it with the following arguments:



    where pkg-name is the name of the package in question and the INSTALL keyword denotes this as an installation requirements check (useful if you want to have one script serving multiple functions).
  7. If a pre-install script exists for the package, it is then executed with the following arguments:




    where pkg-name is the name of the package in question and PRE-INSTALL is a keyword denoting this as the preinstallation phase.

    Note: The PRE-INSTALL keyword will not appear if separate scripts for pre-install and post-install are given during package creation time (using the -i and -I flags to pkg_create(1)).

  8. If @option extract-in-place is not used, then the packing list (this is the +CONTENTS file) is now used as a guide for moving (or copying, as necessary) files from the staging area into their final locations.
  9. If the package contains an mtreefile file (see pkg_create(1)), then mtree is invoked as:









    where prefix is either the prefix specified with the -p flag or, if no -p flag was specified, the name of the first directory named by a @cwd directive within this package.
  10. If a post-install script exists for the package, it is then executed as




    where pkg-name is the name of the package in question and POST-INSTALL is a keyword denoting this as the post-installation phase.

    Note: The POST-INSTALL keyword will not appear if separate scripts for pre-install and post-install are given during package creation time (using the -i and -I flags to pkg_create(1)).

    Reasoning behind passing keywords such as POST-INSTALL and PRE-INSTALL is that this allows you to write a single install script that does both "before and after" actions. But, separating the functionality is more advantageous and easier from a maintenance viewpoint.

  11. After installation is complete, a copy of the packing list, deinstall script, description, and display files are copied into /var/db/pkg/<pkg-name> for subsequent possible use by pkg_delete(1). Any package dependencies are recorded in the other packages’ /var/db/pkg/<other-pkg>/+REQUIRED_BY file (if the environment variable PKG_DBDIR is set, this overrides the /var/db/pkg/ path shown above).
  12. Finally, the staging area is deleted and the program terminates.

All the scripts are called with the environment variable PKG_PREFIX set to the installation prefix (see the -p option above). This allows a package author to write a script that reliably performs some action on the directory where the package is installed, even if the user might change it with the -p flag to pkg_add.


The value of the PKG_PATH is used if a given package cannot be found. The environment variable should be a series of entries separated by colons. Each entry consists of a directory name. The current directory may be indicated implicitly by an empty directory name, or explicitly by a single period.

The environment variable PKG_DBDIR specifies an alternative location for the installed package database, default location is /var/db/pkg.

The environment variables PKG_TMPDIR and TMPDIR, in that order, are taken to name temporary directories where pkg_add will attempt to create its staging area in. If these variables are not present or if the directories named lack sufficient space, then pkg_add will use the first of /var/tmp, /tmp or /usr/tmp with sufficient space.

The environment variable PACKAGEROOT specifies an alternate location for pkg_add to fetch from. The fetch URL is built using this environment variable and the automatic directory logic that pkg_add uses when the -r option is invoked. An example setting would be "ftp://ftp3.FreeBSD.org".

The environment variable PACKAGESITE specifies an alternate location for pkg_add to fetch from. This variable subverts the automatic directory logic that pkg_add uses when the -r option is invoked. Thus it should be a complete URL to the remote package file(s).


/var/tmp Temporary directory for creating the staging area, if environmental variables PKG_TMPDIR or TMPDIR do not point to a suitable directory.
/tmp Next choice if /var/tmp does not exist or has insufficient space.
/usr/tmp Last choice if /var/tmp and /tmp are not suitable for creating the staging area.
Default location of the installed package database.


pkg_create(1), pkg_delete(1), pkg_info(1), pkg_version(1), mktemp(3), sysconf(3), mtree(8)




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