User’s Manual

The user’s manual covers using a mini-buildd installation – i.e., everything you can do with it given someone else had already set it up for you as a service.


The core functionalities of mini-buildd are, 1st the arch-multiplexed clean building, and 2nd providing a repository. You don’t need to worry about 1st, mini-buildd just does it for you.

The 2nd however, the repository, goes public and hits “global Debian namespace”; so, as a big picture, it’s important first to understand how mini-buildd’s (default) setup tries to deal with this.

First of all, each instance has it’s own identity string, which will be used in the name of the keyring package, and will also appear in the apt repository in the Origin field.

Second, each instance instance may have N repositories, which each have their own identity string, determining the actual distribution names (CODENAME-ID-SUITE) to be used for uploads or in apt lines.

Both identities should be “globally unique” to avoid any confusion or conflicts with other existing repositories.


Exceptions are the generic Sandbox and Developer repositories, with the de-facto standard names test and debdev; these should never be used publicly or for anything but testing.

Third, when people are mixing repositories together, we want to avoid package clashes, like same PACKAGE-VERSION from two different repositories. Also, we want guaranteed upgradeability between two different base distributions, and from experimental to non-experimental suites. Hence, at least in the Default Layout, we also have a version restriction, which resembles that of Debian Backports:

Default Layout

The Default Layout’s Suites and Semantics Overview
Suite Flags Version restriction Example(test/jessie) Repository Semantic Consumer
experimental U E 6R ~<R><C>+0 ~test80+0 No auto Use at will Developer.
snapshot U E 12R ~<R><C>+0 ~test80+0 No auto, but upgrades Continuous integration Developer, beta tester.
unstable U M 9R ~<R><C>+[1-9] ~test80+3 No auto, but upgrades Proposed for live Developer, beta tester.
testing M 3R ~<R><C>+[1-9] ~test80+2 No auto, but upgrades QA testing Quality Assurance.
hotfix U M 4R ~<R><C>+[1-9] ~test80+2+hotfix1 No auto, but upgrades Hotfix proposed for live Quality Assurance.
stable 6R ~<R><C>+[1-9] ~test80+1 No auto, but upgrades Live End customer.

U: Uploadable M: Migrates E: Experimental NR: keeps N Rollback versions <R>: Repository Identity <C>: Codename version.


The hotfix suite fills the kludge in a situation when a new version is in unstable/testing (but no yet ready for stable), but you need but to do important bug fixes to what is in stable immediately (it does migrate to stable directly).

User Setup

As a minimal setup, you should have a web browser installed; you can instantly browse mini-buildd, and use all functionality that do not require extra permissions.

To be able use advanced functionality (for example, create package subscriptions, access restricted API calls, or upload your GnuPG public key), create a user account:

  1. Register a user account.
  2. Setup your profile (package subscriptions, GnuPG key upload).

To access mini-buildd from the command line via mini-buildd-tool, install python-mini-buildd:

# apt-get install python-mini-buildd

To upload packages, install dput and add mini-buildd’s dput config to your ~/

# apt-get install dput
? mini-buildd-tool HOST getdputconf >>~/


After ~/ has been set up this way, you can use [USER@]ID-like shortcuts instead of HOST, and these will also appear in the bash auto-completion of mini-buildd-tool.

Using the repository

Upload a package

Upload Options

New in version 1.0.26.

An Upload Option is some value induced to mini-buildd via special entries in the changelog of an upload. Thus, an upload may overwrite some defaults, or request special handling.

For example, consider an upload with this debian/changelog:

mini-buildd (1.0.25~test80+1) jessie-test-unstable; urgency=medium

  * Adds this.
  * Adds that.
  * Fixes something else.
  * MINI_BUILDD_OPTION: ignore-lintian=true
  * MINI_BUILDD_OPTION: run-lintian[armel]=false
  * MINI_BUILDD_OPTION: auto-ports=wheezy-test-unstable

This would

  • ignore lintian errors for this upload,
  • not run lintian at all for builds on arch armel
  • and finally (after successful install) do an automated port to wheezy.

Changelog entries denoting such an upload option need to be of the form:

* MINI_BUILDD_OPTION: <key>[[<alt>]]=<value>

For options that support alternate values, values without an <alt> denote the default for that option.

These Upload Options are known:

Upload Options
Key Alt Value Description
ignore-lintian [arch] Bool Ignore lintian failures (install anyway).
run-lintian [arch] Bool Run lintian on build [1].
internal-apt-priority   Int APT priorities for internal repos on build [2].
auto-ports   CSV List of distributions (comma-separated) to automatically run ports for after successful install.
[1]You cannot currently enable lintian run when it’s disabled in the resp. Distribution. So for the time being, only “false” makes sense here.
[2]This will happily override the default (1) or the value of Distribution‘s extra option Internal-APT-Priority.

Changelog Magic Lines (deprecated)

Deprecated since version 1.0.26: Please use upload options auto-ports (for AUTO_BACKPORTS) or ignore-lintian (for BACKPORT_MODE) instead.

mini-buildd currently supports these so called magic lines as changelog entry to control it on a per-upload basis:

  Make QA-Checks that usually break when backporting unlethal (like lintian).

  After successful build for the upload distribution, create and upload automatic internal ports for the given distributions.



BUG: reprepro fails with debian/ as symlink in Debian native packages

Please follow [6] for this subject.

In such a case, builds will be fine, but reprepro will not be able to install the package; you will only be able to see reprepro’s error “No section and no priority for” in the daemon.log.

For the moment, just avoid such a setup (which is imho not desireable anyway). However, as it’s a legal setup afaik it should work after all.

Using the API

The API consists of several commands with optional arguments (authentity and authority protected via django’s user management).

On the web interface, you can see a list of all commands via the API menu.

There are several ways to access the API:

Via the Web Interface

API calls are integrated in the web interface at appropriate places. Credentials are handled by whatever your browser uses.

Chances are that this is all you need, and no extra packages need to be installed on your system.

Via the Command Line

This needs extra package python-mini-buildd for the command line tool mini-buildd-tool. Credentials are handled via python-keyring.

Via Python Code


Unfortunately, some functionality may not work if you are using different main django versions on the mini-buildd instance and the client system.

This needs extra package python-mini-buildd for the client API python module client_1_0. Credentials are handled via python-keyring.

Over the mere API calls, this also currently adds some extra functionality (like bulk migration, or blocking until package availability).

For example, one can have configuration-like little python helper scripts, like for bulk migrating a package:

from mini_buildd.api.client_1_0 import Daemon
Daemon("myhost.some.where").login("myuser").bulk_migrate(["mypkg1", "mypkg2"], ["myrepoid"], ["jessie"], ["unstable", "testing"])

You might find some more information in the API doc here, or directly in the source code.

Access via https proxy

If you happen to have setup an https proxy for your mini-buildd instance (see examples), the above example could be written as:

from mini_buildd.api.client_1_0 import Daemon
Daemon("myhost.some.where", port=443, proto="https").login("myuser").bulk_migrate(["mypkg1", "mypkg2"], ["myrepoid"], ["jessie"], ["unstable", "testing"])

In case you use a self-signed certificate, you will also need to make this known for python’s urllib2, for example like so on a Debian system:

# apt-get install ca-certificates
# cp your_self_signed_cert.crt /usr/local/share/ca-certificates/
# update-ca-certificates

Automatic ports

Internal ports

External ports

Repository maintenance


IDEA: Dependency check on package migration.


IDEA: Custom hooks (prebuild.d source.changes, preinstall.d/arch.changes, postinstall.d/arch.changes).



FAQ: aptitude GUI does not show distribution or origin of packages

To show the distribution of packages, just add %t to the package display format [3]. For example, I do prefer this setting for the Package-Display-Format:

aptitude::UI::Package-Display-Format "%c%a%M%S %p %t %i %Z %v# %V#";

The origin cannot be shown in the package display format [4]. However, you may change the grouping to categorize with “origin”. For example, I do prefer this setting for the Default-Grouping:

aptitude::UI::Default-Grouping "task,status,pattern(~S~i~O, ?true ||),pattern(~S~i~A, ?true ||),section(subdirs,passthrough),section(topdir)";

This will group installed packages into an Origin->Archive hierarchy.

Additionally to aptitude’s default “Obsolete and locally installed” top level category (which only shows packages not in any apt archive), this grouping also more conveniently shows installed package _versions_ which are not currently in any repository (check “Installed Packages/now”).


BUG: apt secure problems after initial (unauthorized) install of the archive-key package

  • aptitude always shows <NULL> archive

You can verify this problem via:

# aptitude -v show YOURID-archive-keyring | grep ^Archive
Archive: <NULL>, now
  • BADSIG when verifying the archive keyring package’s signature

Both might be variants of [5] (known to occur for <= squeeze). For both, check if this:

# rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/*
# apt-get update

fixes it.


FAQ: Multiple versions of packages in one distribution

This is not really a problem, but a uncommon situation that may lead to confusion.

Generally, reprepro does allow exactly only one version of a package in a distribution; the only exception is when installed in different components (e.g., main vs. non-free).

This usually happens when the ‘Section’ changes in the corresponding ‘debian/control’ file of the source package, or if packages were installed manually using “-C” with reprepro.

Check with the “show” command if this is the case, i.e., like:

$ mini-buildd-tool show my-package

you may see multiple entries for one distribution with different components.

mini-buildd handles this gracefully; the remove, migrate and port API calls all include an optional ‘version’ parameter to be able to select a specific version.

In the automated rollback handling, all versions of a source package are shifted.