praxis - package manager for Mutiny’s package API, theory


This page consists of documentation and other notes on the design of the praxis package manager.


Starting from the bottom-up, praxis aims to be composed of multiple small utilities that do one thing, so as to ease frontend development and more importantly, to make the surface area for issues very small. With this design in mind, praxis can be fast and very compact, while providing a lot of useful functionality for developers, metadata consumers, and users.

No code evaluation is used, up until the actual building of packages. All code is generated purely by following hierarchies of inheritance for actions and metadata.

Concepts like envdirs are used to additionally ease the amount of parsing that must be done to files in order to construct metadata for packages, repositories, and libraries.

Furthermore, another goal is ensuring that it should be possible to get metadata from packages without having to call out to a shell running arbitrary code or duplicate metadata. This has tended to be a problem for other source-based package formats, such as the Arch Linux AUR, Exherbo’s exheres-0, and Gentoo’s EAPI. That is to say, it should be relatively static and not actually require a shell parser for anything other than running the actual actions that build a package.


  • A POSIX-compliant shell: on Mutiny this is oksh(1), but it is written with intent that anything vaguely POSIX compliant should function properly.

  • idioms

    • Used in lieu of implementing a bunch of small flow functions into the package API.

  • s6-portable-utils

    • s6-update-symlinks is used for updating repositories while respecting priority.


  • ❏ Build repository management utilities

    • repo-list - list all repositories by if they have libraries and/or packages.

      • ✓ Tests

    • repo-update - update repositories and combine them according to priority.

      • ❏ Tests (currently are skipped until things settle)

    • repo-lint - lint repositories and check their validity according to theory(5).

      • ❏ Tests

  • ❏ Build theory utilities

    • theory-construct-action - resolve and print all action (build script) parts of a theory.

      • ❏ Tests

    • theory-construct-metadata - resolve and print all metadata parts of a theory.

      • ❏ Tests

    • Open questions:

      1. Should packages be created by concatenation of things, which creates a mostly self-contained and perhaps easier-debugged build script, or should they be parsed more heavily by the package manager itself? This needs to be decided pretty soon since it basically dictates the rest of the format.

  • ❏ Build package building utilities

    • pkg-gen - create a self-contained package script.

      • ❏ Tests

      • See the first open question above to understand my anxieties with this format.

    • pkg-build - run each phase of a package script

      • ❏ Tests


  • Multiple repositories

    • Intra-repository dependencies

    • Priority levels

      • ::primary is the most important repository.

      • Other repositories should always be able to depend on libraries in repositories that are have a higher priority.

  • Repository synchronization

    • Use git for synchronization by default, but allow alternative transport/sync methods.

    • Paludis has sync prefixes: cave sync -s local repository, which are really useful for fast development of repositories and packages within them.

  • Something akin to apt-get source would be pretty nice - we have all the metadata to do just this anyway, since all packages are built from source.

Example configuration

Here’s what I’m imagining for the configuration format. Basically, something akin to Paludis' configuration format, but simpler.


Options enabled on packages.

*           -* ruby ssl
tz          leaps
toybox      static
nginx       webdav pcre

Files may also be put in /etc/praxis/options.d/*.conf, and they’ll take priority over options.conf.


Packages explicitly requested to be installed by the user. They were not installed as dependencies of other packages.



Named as such to conform with the rest of the Mutiny naming scheme. "Praxis," the word, means in the original Greek, "action." Packages are referred to as theories, thus praxis carries out a theory(3). praxis is the reference implementation of the package manager used by mutiny(7).

See also


The canonical URL of this repository is Submit patches and bugs to <>.

There is also an IRC channel for praxis and other projects at irc:// Please don’t hesitate to message if you need help.


praxis is in the public domain.

To the extent possible under law, Kylie McClain <> has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work.