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Contributing to evolution-packages

evolution-packages is the backbone of the EvolutionOS distribution. It contains all the definitions to build packages from source.

This document describes how you, as a contributor, can help with adding packages, correcting bugs and adding features to evolution-packages.

Package Requirements

To be included in the evolution repository, software must meet at least one of the following requirements. Exceptions to the list are possible, and might be accepted, but are extremely unlikely. If you believe you have an exception, start a PR and make an argument for why that particular piece of software, while not meeting any of the following requirements, is a good candidate for the evolution packages system.

  1. System: The software should be installed system-wide, not per-user.

  2. Compiled: The software needs to be compiled before being used, even if it is software that is not needed by the whole system.

  3. Required: Another package either within the repository or pending inclusion requires the package.

In particular, new themes are highly unlikely to be accepted. Simple shell scripts are unlikely to be accepted unless they provide considerable value to a broad user base. New fonts may be accepted if they provide value beyond aesthetics (e.g. they contain glyphs for a script missing in already packaged fonts). Packages related to cryptocurrencies (wallets, miners, nodes, etc) are not accepted.

Browser forks, including those based on Chromium and Firefox, are generally not accepted. Such forks require heavy patching, maintenance and hours of build time.

Software need to be used in version announced by authors as ready to use by the general public - usually called releases. Betas, arbitrary VCS revisions, templates using tip of development branch taken at build time and releases created by the package maintainer won't be accepted.

Creating, updating, and modifying packages in evolution by yourself

If you really want to get a new package or package update into evolutionOS, we recommend you contribute it yourself.

We provide a comprehensive Manual on how to create new packages. There's also a manual for xbps-src, which is used to build package files from templates.

For this guide, we assume you have basic knowledge about git, as well as a Centrifuge Account with SSH set up.

To get started, fork the evolutionOS evolution-packages git repository on Centrifuge and clone it:

$ git clone git@hectabit.org:<user>/evolution-packages.git

To keep your forked repository up to date, setup the upstream remote to pull in new changes:

$ git remote add upstream https://centrifuge.hectabit.org/evolutionos/evolution-packages.git
$ git pull --rebase upstream master

This automatically sets up the upstream remote, so git pull --rebase upstream master can still be used to keep your fork up-to-date.

Using the Forgejo web editor for making changes is strongly discouraged, because you will need to clone the repo anyways to edit and test your changes.

Using the master branch of your fork for contributing is also strongly discouraged. It can cause many issues with updating your pull request (also called a PR), and having multiple PRs open at once. To create a new branch:

$ git checkout master -b <a-descriptive-name>

Creating a new template

You can use the helper tool xnew, from the xtools package, to create new templates:

$ xnew pkgname subpkg1 subpkg2 ...

Templates must have the name evolution-packages/srcpkgs/<pkgname>/template, where pkgname is the same as the pkgname variable in the template.

For deeper insights on the contents of template files, please read the manual, and be sure to browse the existing template files in the srcpkgs directory of this repository for concrete examples.

Updating a template

At minimum, a template update will consist of changing version and checksum, if there was an upstream version change, and/or revision, if a template-specific change (e.g. patch, correction, etc.) is needed. Other changes to the template may be needed depending on what changes the upstream has made.

The checksum can be updated automatically with the xgensum helper from the xtools package:

$ xgensum -i <pkgname>

Committing your changes

After making your changes, please check that the package builds successfully. From the top level directory of your local copy of the evolution-packages repository, run:

$ ./xbps-src pkg <pkgname>

Your package must build successfully for at least x86, but we recommend also trying a cross-build for armv6l* as well, e.g.:

$ ./xbps-src -a armv6l pkg <pkgname>

When building for x86_64* or i686, building with the -Q flag or with XBPS_CHECK_PKGS=yes set in etc/conf (to run the check phase) is strongly encouraged. Also, new packages and updates will not be accepted unless they have been runtime tested by installing and running the package.

When you've finished working on the template file, please check it with xlint helper from the xtools package:

$ xlint template

If xlint reports any issues, resolve them before committing.

Once you have made and verified your changes to the package template and/or other files, make one commit per package (including all changes to its sub-packages). Each commit message should have one of the following formats:

  • We have no formal naming system, so call your commit what you like (up to an extent, no swearing, profanity, etc)!

  • I have broken this rule myself several times, we are very lenient here...

xbump, available in the xtools package, can be used to commit a new or updated package:

$ xbump <pkgname> <git commit options>

xrevbump, also available in the xtools package, can be used to commit a template modification for a package:

$ xrevbump '<message>' <pkgnames...>

xbump and xrevbump will use git commit to commit the changes with the appropriate commit message. For more fine-grained control over the commit, specific options can be passed to git commit by adding them after the package name.

Starting a pull request

Once you have successfully built the package, you can create a pull request. Pull requests are also known as PRs.

Most pull requests should only contain a single package and dependencies which are not part of evolution-packages yet.

If you make updates to packages containing a soname bump, you also need to update common/shlibs and revbump all packages that are dependant. There should be a commit for each package revbump, and those commits should be part of the same pull request.

When you make changes to your pull request, please do not close and reopen your pull request. Instead, just forcibly git push, overwriting any old commits. Closing and opening your pull requests repeatedly spams the evolution maintainers.

Continuous Integration

Pull requests are automatically submitted for Continuous Integration (CI) testing to ensure packages build and pass their tests (on native builds) on various combinations of C library and architecture. Packages that take longer than 120 minutes or need more than 14G of storage to complete their build (for example, Firefox or the Linux kernel) will fail CI and should include [ci skip] in the PR title or body (the comment field when the PR is being opened) to stray from wasting CI builder time. Use your best judgment on build times based on your local building experience. If you skip CI when submitting a PR, please build and cross-build for a variety of architectures locally, with both glibc and musl, and note your local results in PR comments. Make sure to cover 64-bit and 32-bit architectures.

If you notice a failure in CI that didn't happen locally, that is likely because you didn't run tests locally. Use ./xbps-src -Q pkg <package> to do so. Some tests won't work in the CI environment or at all, and their templates should encode this information using the make_check variable.

Continuous Integration will also check if the templates you have changed comply with the our guidelines. At the moment not all packages comply with the rules, so if you update a package, it may report errors about places you haven't touched. Please feel free to fix those errors too.


It's possible (and common) that a pull request will contain mistakes or reviewers will ask for additional tweaks. Reviewers will comment on your pull request and point out which changes are needed before the pull request can be merged.

Most PRs will have a single commit, as seen above, so if you need to make changes to the commit and already have a pull request open, you can use the following commands:

$ git add <file>
$ git commit --amend
$ git push -f

A more powerful way of modifying commits than using git commit --amend is with git-rebase, which allows you to join, reorder, change description of past commits and more.

Alternatively, if there are issues with your git history, you can make another branch and push it to the existing PR:

$ git checkout master -b <attempt2>
$ # do changes anew
$ git push -f <fork> <attempt2>:<branch-of-pr>

Closing the pull request

Once you have applied all requested changes, the reviewers will merge your request.

If the pull request becomes inactive for some days, the reviewers may or may not warn you when they are about to close it. If it stays inactive further, it will be closed.

Please abstain from temporarily closing a pull request while revising the templates. Instead, leave a comment on the PR describing what still needs work, add "[WIP]" to the PR title. Only close your pull request if you're sure you don't want your changes to be included.

Publishing the package

Once the reviewers have merged the pull request, our build server is automatically triggered and builds all packages in the pull request for all supported platforms. Upon completion, the packages are available to all evolutionOS users.

Testing Pull Requests

While it is the responsibility of the PR creator to test changes before sending it, one person can't test all configuration options, usecases, hardware, etc. Testing new package submissions and updates is always helpful, and is a great way to get started with contributing. First, clone the repository if you haven't done so already. Then check out the pull request, with git:

If your local evolution-packages repository is cloned from your fork, you may need to add the main repository as a remote first:

$ git remote add upstream https://centrifuge.hectabit.org/evolutionos/evolution-packages.git

Then fetch and check out the PR (replacing <remote> with either origin or upstream):

$ git fetch <remote> pull/<number>/head:<branch-name>
$ git checkout <branch-name>

Then build and install the package and test its functionality.