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#                       #     checkinstall 1.6.0    #                        #
#                       #############################                        #
#                                                                            #
#  Installs a compiled program from the program's source directory using     #
#  "make install" or any other command supplied on checkinstall's command    #
#  line. checkinstall will create a Slackware, RPM or Debian compatible      #
#  package and install it using your distribution's standard package         #
#  administration utilities.                                                 #
#                                                                            #
#  This version of checkinstall needs enough free space on the partition     #
#  holding the temp dir (/var/tmp by default) to write there a               #
#  temporary copy of the package.                                            #
#                                                                            #


====== CONTENTS ======

  1. Introduction
  2. Usage

2.1. Download, configure, build

2.2. The "doc-pak" directory

2.3. Package description

2.4. Preinstall, postinstall, preremove and postremove

2.5. Package information

2.6. Package creation

2.6.1 Slackware packages

2.6.2 RPM packages

2.6.3 Debian packages

3. Customization

3.1. The checkinstallrc file

3.2. Command line switches

3.3. Native language support

4. Notes

====== 1. INTRODUCTION ======

A lot of people has asked me how can they remove from their boxes a program they compiled and installed from source. Some times - very few - the program's author adds an "uninstall" rule to the Makefile, but that's not usually the case. That's my primary reason to write checkinstall. After you ./configure;make your program, It will run "make install" (or whatever you tell it to run) and keep track of every file modified by this installation, using the excellent installwatch utility written by Pancrazio 'Ezio' de Mauro <p at>.

When "make install" is done, checkinstall will create a Slackware, RPM or Debian package and install it with Slackware's installpkg, "rpm -i" or "dpkg -i" as appropriate, so you can view it's contents in /var/log/packages or remove it with removepkg (for Slackware), "rpm -ql" and "rpm -e" (RPM) or "dpkg -I" and "dpkg -r" (Debian).

Additionally, this script will leave a copy of the installed package in the source directory or in the storage directory you specify (see the PAK_DIR option later in the checkinstallrc file) so you can install it wherever you want, which is my second motivation: I don't have to compile the same software again and again every time I need to install it on another box :-).

Another nice thing about checkinstall is that it can be run simultaneously by any number of users and each instance will get only the files modified by it's processes and no one else's, unlike some other tools based on a "find / -atime etc etc etc". Not to mention that checkinstall is A LOT faster =)

It is important to note that checkinstall can keep track of files modified by any command line, not just a "make install". You can create your own installation script with lots of command in it and then have checkinstall track them for you.

====== 2. USAGE ======

== 2.1 == Download, configure, build

  • Download your software, i.e. Afterstep-1.8.4.tgz
  • Extract the files:

    tar xzvf Afterstep-1.8.4

  • cd to the source directory, configure and compile:

    cd Afterstep-1.8.4 ./configure make

== 2.2 == The "doc-pak" directory

  • Optionally you can make a directory called "doc-pak" whose contents will be installed in /usr/doc/<package_name> inside the package you're about to create. checkinstall will remind you about this one if it notices there is no "doc-pak" on the source directory. Good candidates to be there are: README, INSTALL, COPYING, Changelog, TODO, CREDITS, etc. It's up to you what to copy in there.

    mkdir doc-pak cp README INSTALL COPYING Changelog TODO CREDITS doc-pak

    As of checkinstall-1.1 if you don't create the "doc-pak" directory then checkinstall will ask if you want it to build a default documentation directory with files having common documentation names like those mentioned in the above paragraph. If you say no, your package will have no documentation.

== 2.3 == Package description (Changed in checkinstall-1.3.0)

If you create a file named "description-pak" it's contents will be used to include a description and summary in the new package, which will be displayed when you use "pkgtool" or "rpm -qi". For example:

Create the file "description-pak":

---------------------- Cut here ---------------------- AfterStep window manager

The one and only!
This is a window manager with a NexT inspiration. ---------------------- Cut here ----------------------

If checkinstall doesn't find that file it will create one, asking you for a description to put in it.

NOTE: Slackware's pkgtool doesn't seem to handle package filenames longer than 8 characters when displaying the package list in the "Remove" section, but the "View" option works OK. I hope that Pat or someone can take the time to fix this. I'll try to fix it myself if i find the time to do it.

As a result, I've decided not to prepend every line in the PACKAGE DESCRIPTION section of the /var/log/packages entry with package-name:. It is difficult to read in the /var/log/packages file and it's pretty useless in the pkgtool's remove package section listing. The description is stored "as is".

Anyway, it's not that bad.. ;-)

NOTE 2: As of checkinstall 1.5.3, support for the new (8.1+) Slackware description file format is included, available when using the "--newslack" command line switch.

== 2.4 == Preinstall, postinstall, preremove and postremove scripts

CheckInstall supports preinstall, postinstall, preremove and postremove scripts for RPM and Debian packages.

For Debian, these scripts must meet some requirements to be accepted by dpkg while building the .deb package. See:

In short, any shell script will do as long as it specifies an interpreter (i.e. put #!/bin/sh as the first line) and has an exit status of zero for success or non-zero for failure.

To include the scripts in your package, put them in the current directory and name them:

+-----------------+--------------------------------------+ | Script name | Action | +--------------------------------------------------------+ | preinstall-pak | Run BEFORE the package is INSTALLED | +--------------------------------------------------------+ | postinstall-pak | Run AFTER the package is INSTALLED | +--------------------------------------------------------+ | preremove-pak | Run BEFORE the package is REMOVED | +--------------------------------------------------------+ | postremove-pak | Run AFTER the package is REMOVED | +--------------------------------------------------------+

All scripts are optional. You can write all of them if you need them, or only the ones you need, or even none.

Remember that the scripts are run only when the .rpm or .deb package is installed or removed. NOT when the initial install command (i.e. "make install") is run.

For Slackware packages, the "postinstall-pak" script is already supported as "install-pak". Either name will work.

== 2.5 == Package information

CheckInstall will display a menu with several values that can be customized for this package, like the package's name, version, release number, etc.

Most of the values are self-descriptive, however there are three values that deserve special attention: "Name", "Source Location" and "Alternate Source Location".

The "Name" field allows you to change the name for the package you are about to create. This is useful when CheckInstall fails to properly set this name from the source directory's name. This also applies to the version field.

The "Source Location" values are -for now- only hooks for the upcoming "auto-unpack-configure-compile-install" feature in future CheckInstall's versions. The "Source Location" will tipically be the original source archive and the "Alternate Source Location" would be some FTP or HTTP URL where the source archive can be retrieved from. Keep your eyes on these ones ;-).

Please note that as of checkinstall-1.5.0 (not 1.5.0betax) all of these values can be specified via command line options. See the COMMAND LINE OPTIONS section below.

== 2.6 == Package creation

  • You normally would su and make install. Now it's only su:

    su password: xxxxx

  • Run checkinstall:


    NOTE: If you give no arguments to checkinstall it will run a "make install". If you give arguments, the first non-option argument will be used as the install command. This is useful when the install command is not "make install" but something else like "make install_packages" or "setup" or whatever, i.e.

    checkinstall make install_packages checkinstall make modules_install checkinstall checkinstall setup checkinstall rpm -i my-package-1.0.i386-1.rpm

== 2.6.1 == Slackware packages

  • checkinstall will ask if you want to see the installation results, then run the modified Slackware package maker "makepak". If you want checkinstall to use the original Slackware's "makepkg" then change the MAKEPKG variable inside the checkinstall script and read this:

    makepkg will ask you a couple of questions:

If there are any symbolic links in the installed package it will ask you to remove them and make an installation script to re-create them whenever you install the package. This is a GOOD THING, so answer YES. --> BTW, makepkg doesn't always ask you this (depending on whether you have symbolic links or not) so be careful and read before you answer, you could be answering the wrong question. Read on:

makepkg will always ask if you want to change the owner, group and permissions of EVERY file in the package to root:root:755. This is BAD most of the times, always answer NO to that question, unless you know what you are doing, of course ;)

  • In the end, checkinstall will install the package with installpkg so you can remove it later with Slackware's removepkg (Our initial intention :) ). Additionally, it will leave a copy of the package in the source directory, the package's name will be name-version-architecture-release.tgz. Using the Afterstep example, the file would be named Afterstep-1.8.4-i386-1.tgz.

    Starting with checkinstall-1.5.1, the created packages will be named using the new (post-Slackware 8.0) Slackware package naming scheme.

  • You can add a customized installation script which will be run by "installpkg" every time you use it to install your new package.

    Write it and name it "install-pak" or "postinstall-pak" and checkinstall will include it for you.

    This script can be useful to set up the system to fit the newly installed package: create new users, set permissions, initialize databases, rcscripts, etc.

== 2.6.2 == RPM package creation support

CheckInstall has the ability to build binary RPM packages. After you write the package's description the script will prompt you to choose a package type. If you chose RPM ("R") then it will figure out some sane values and write a minimal spec file. You can of course supply your own file, in this case checkinstall will use the values you put in there to build the rpm and skip the spec file writing step. If any problems arise while building/installing the rpm you'll get a chance to see the log files and figure out what went wrong.

== 2.6.3 == Debian package creation support

That's right, CheckInstall can now create Debian packages. Do I need to say more? =)

The Debian support in CheckInstall is still new, so handle it with care. It has been reported to work OK in some Debian systems and it certainly works OK in my Slackware development system with dpkg installed. Your mileage may vary.

And of course, it it does vary, I'd really like it if you send me a message telling me about it so I can fix it ;-).

NOTE to non-Debian-based users:

To build Debian packages you need the dpkg utility. I got mine from:

Also, you should have all of your basic filesystem structure included ("installed") in your dpkg database, or you won't be able to remove most .deb packages installed (either checkinstall-generated ones or not). dpkg seems to be unwilling to remove things like "/", "/usr" and such, wich are obviously included in nearly every package you install. The way to avoid this particular problem is to have a "base" package installed containing those directories, in this way dpkg won't complain about removing other packages.

I've put a "aaa_base-1.0-1.deb" package in the CheckInstall's home page as a work-around for this problem. Install it with "dpkg -i aaa_base-1.0-1.deb" and then forget about it =).

"dpkg -I aaa_base-1.0-1.deb" should give you some useful info about the package.

====== 3. CheckInstall customization ======

== 3.1 == The checkinstallrc file

CHANGE in CheckInstall 1.4.0:

The variable declaration section in the checkinstall script has been removed, you should now edit the checkinstallrc file, normally installed under /usr/local/lib/checkinstall.

In the checkinstallrc file you will find some variables wich modify checkinstall's default behaviour. They're described here (and are also well commented in the file, BTW).

The checkinstallrc values are these:

  • DEBUG: Set the debug level (Default: 0) 0 => No debug 1 => Keep all files except the ones inside the package 3 => Keep those files too.
  • INSTALLWATCH_PREFIX: Prefix to installwatch's library and program
  • INSTALLWATCH: Location of the installwatch program
  • MAKEPKG: Location of Slackware's makepkg

Location of the makepkg program. "makepak" is the default, and is included with checkinstall. If you want to use Slackware's native "makepkg" then set this to "makepkg"

  • MAKEPKG_FLAGS: makepkg optional flags.

These are recommended if running a newer Slackware version: "-l y -c n"

  • SHOW_MAKEPKG: Boolean (Default: 0)

Show -or not- the results of the MAKEPKG command as it runs. Useful when running it with interactive options. If checkinstall seems to halt and sleep after saying "Building Slackware package..." then you might want to set this to 1.

  • BASE_TMP_DIR: Prefix to all checkinstall's temporary files/dirs

NEVER, EVER set this to "/tmp" or "/". Setting it to "/tmp" will change /tmp's permission to 700 (definitely no good) and setting it to "/" one will erase all of your files by means of a "rm -rf /*".

You have been warned!

  • DOC_DIR: Where to place the installed document files
  • ARCHITECTURE: Default target architecture for the package. (Default: empty)

If your rpm program is configured to build packages for i686 instead of i386 (for example) then you'll find this handy to avoid the need to tell checkinstall your architecture type every time it is run. The default is auto-detect.

  • INSTYPE: What kind of packages are we building? (Default: empty)

Set it to "S" for Slackware's .tgz, "R" for RedHat and friends' .rpm, "D" for Debian and leave it empty to have checkinstall ask you every time.

  • RPM_FLAGS: RPM install command optional flags.
  • DPKG_FLAGS: dpkg install command optional flags.
  • PAK_DIR: Package storage directory

If non-empty, all the created packages will be saved in this directory. In this way you can keep all of your packages in one place.

  • CKUMASK: Set the umask to this value (Default: 0022)
  • SHOW_INSTALL: Boolean (0 or 1) (Default: 1) Show -or not- the results of the install command as it runs. Useful for interactive install commands.
  • SHOW_SLACK_INSTALL: Boolean (0 or 1) (Default: 0) Show -or not- the results of the Slackware's installpkg command as it runs. As the option above, this can be useful for interactive install scripts.
  • DEL_DOCPAK: Boolean (Default: 1) Delete -or not- the "doc-pak" directory upon program's termination.
  • DEL_SPEC: Boolean (Default: 1) Delete -or not- the .spec file upon termination.
  • DEL_DESC: Boolean (Default: 1) Delete -or not- the "description-pak" file.
  • STRIP_ELF: Boolean (Default: 1) Strip -or not- any ELF binaries found inside the package.
  • STRIP_SO_ELF: Boolean (Default: 0) Automatically strip all ELF shared libraries? Note: this setting will automatically be set to "0" if STRIP_ELF=0
  • ADD_SO: Boolean (Default: 0) Automatically search for shared libraries and add them to /etc/
  • COMPRESS_MAN: Boolean (Default: 1) Automatically compress all man pages?
  • BACKUP: Boolean (Default: 1) Backup -or not- any pre-existent files that would be overwritten by the package installation.
  • AUTODOINST: Boolean (Default: 1) Write a script wich will be executed everytime you install the package with installpkg.
  • NEW_SLACK: Boolean (Default: 1) Use the new (8.1+) Slackware description file format?
  • EXCLUDE: Comma delimited list List of files/directories to be ignored when searching for files to be included in the package.

Example: EXCLUDE="/dev,/tmp,bad_file,bad_dir"

  • CK_INCLUDE_FILE: Path to a file This file should contain a list of files and directories that will be included in the package in addition to the ones installed by your installation command. The files or directories should be listed one per line.

Example: INCLUDE="/home/include-list.txt"

  • ACCEPT_DEFAULT: Boolean (Default: 0) Accept default values for all questions?
  • CK_INSPECT: Boolean Enable inspection of the list of files that will be included in the package, before the package is created.
  • REVIEW_SPEC: Boolean Enable review of the .spec file before the creation of a RPM package.
  • REVIEW_CONTROL: Boolean Enable review of the Debian control file before the creation of a Debian package.
  • INSTALL: Boolean Install or not the package as we create it.

== 3.2 == Command line options

Starting at version 1.4.0, checkinstall supports a lot of command line switches, which if specified will override the options set in the checkinstallrc file.

The command line options are these:

Usage: checkinstall [options] [command [command arguments]] Options:

Package type selection

-t,--type=<slackware|rpm|debian> Choose packaging system

-S                               Build a Slackware package
-R                               Build a RPM package
-D                               Build a Debian package

Install options

--install=<yes|no>             Toggle created package installation
--fstrans=<yes|no>             Enable/disable the filesystem translation code

Scripting options

-y, --default                  Accept default answers to all questions
--pkgname=<name>               Set name
--pkgversion=<version>         Set version
-A, --arch, --pkgarch=<arch>   Set architecture
--pkgrelease=<release>         Set release
--pkglicense=<license>         Set license
--pkggroup=<group>             Set software group
--pkgsource=<source>           Set source location
--pkgaltsource=<altsource>     Set alternate source location
--pakdir=<directory>           The new package will be saved here
--maintainer=<email addr>      The package maintainer (.deb)
--provides=<list>              Features provided by this package (.rpm)
--requires=<list>              Features required by this package (.rpm)
--rpmflags=<flags>             Pass this flags to the rpm installer
--rpmi                         Use the -i flag for rpm when installing a .rpm
--rpmu                         Use the -U flag for rpm when installing a .rpm
--dpkgflags=<flags>            Pass this flags to the dpkg installer
--spec=<path>                  .spec file location
--nodoc                        Do not include documentacion files

Info display options

-d<0|1|2>                      Set debug level
-si                            Run an interactive install command
--showinstall=<yes|no>         Toggle interactive install command
-ss                            Run an interactive Slackware installation script
--showslack=<yes|no>           Toggle interactive Slackware installation script

Package tuning options

--autodoinst=<yes|no>          Toggle the creation of a script
--strip=<yes|no>               Strip any ELF binaries found inside the package
--stripso=<yes|no>             Strip any ELF binary libraries (.so files)
--addso=<yes|no>               Search for any shared libs and add
                               them to /etc/
--reset-uids=<yes|no>          Reset perms for all files/dirs to 755 aand
                               the owner/group for all dirs to root.root
--gzman=<yes|no>               Compress any man pages found inside the package
--docdir=<path>                Where to put documentation files
--umask=<mask>                 Set the umask value
--exclude=<file|dir[,...]>     Exclude these files/directories from the package
--include=<listfile>           Force the inclusion in the package of the
                               files/dirs listed in "listfile"
--inspect                      Inspect the package's file list
--review-spec                  Review the spec file before creating a .rpm
--review-control               Review the control file before creating a .deb
--newslack                     Use the new (8.1+) Slackware description format
                               ("--newslack" implies "-S")
--with-tar=/path/to/tar        Manually set the path to the tar binary
                               in this system

Cleanup options

--deldoc=<yes|no>              Delete doc-pak upon termination
--deldesc=<yes|no>             Delete description-pak upon termination
--delspec=<yes|no>             Delete spec file upon termination
--bk                           Backup any overwritten files
--backup=<yes|no>              Toggle backup

About CheckInstall

--help, -h                     Show this message
--copyright                    Show Copyright information
--version                      Show version information

== 3.3 == Native Language Support

Checkinstall now uses GNU gettext to support native language translation of all messages sent to the terminal. Set your LC_ALL variable to your ISO-639 language and ISO-3166 country codes. For example, to set spanish and Mexico you would use:

export LC_ALL=es_MX

Translators needed!

Please read the file NLS_SUPPORT for information on how to translate checkinstall if your language is not already supported.

The supported languages so far are:

  • English
  • Spanish

====== 4. Notes ======

So far I've seen -or heard of- checkinstall running and building packages in these distributions/operating systems:

  • Slackware 7.x/8.x,9.x
  • RedHat 6.2/7.x/8.x
  • SuSe 7.x/8.x/9.x
  • Mandrake 7.x/8.x/9.x
  • Gentoo Linux
  • Solaris (version?)
  • Debian 2.x/3.0

In x86, ppc, sparc and arm, BTW.

If you have succesfully used checkinstall in some other distro I'd really appreciate if you let me know =).

CheckInstall currently is unable to track any file system changes made by statically linked programs. This is being worked on and I hope to have it ready in a couple of weeks or so. Then again, it could be a couple of months, but the important thing is that it will be ready soon ;).

NOTE ON SUID/SGID PROGRAMS: CheckInstall can't track their actions because of some limitations in the LD_PRELOAD system that installwatch uses. This is good for security reasons, but it can generate unexpected results when the installation process uses SUID/SGID binaries.

So, before asking questions about some files not being included in your package, check the binaries that you're using ;-).


Slack8.0 ships with a statically linked "ln", so any symlinks your installation process creates WON'T be detected nor included in your package. The way to fix this is to substitute your static "ln" for a dynamically linked one, like the one from a Slackware 7.x installation. There's link to download it from the CheckInstall's homepage.

Debian support is now included!

UPDATE jan-18-2001: RPM support is already in place, inst2rpm supplied the template for the mini-spec file used by checkinstall. Thanks to Jon A. Christopher for writing it.

Another thing in the works is the addition of a friendlier interface based on the dialog tool (which will give us curses-like character based menus AND X11 graphical menus at no extra cost =) )

There are some extra features planned like package updating, automated friendly installation process going from extracting the files to the installation including configure options, build, etc.

Sometime in the future I will rewrite this in C/Gtk or something, too.

Ideas, bug reports, patches, etc:

  • CheckInstall author: <izto at>

  • CheckInstall users list: <checkinstall-list at>

To join the list, send an empty message to:

<checkinstall-list-subscribe at>

  • CheckInstall developers list: <checkinstall-devel at>

To join the list, send an empty message to:

<checkinstall-devel-subscribe at>

$Id: README,v 2005/06/24 03:40:41 izto Exp $

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