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mini-dinstall - daemon for updating Debian packages in a repository


mini-dinstall [options] [directory]


mini-dinstall is a tool for installing Debian packages into a personal APT repository; it
is very similar to the dinstall tool on auric: it takes a changes file and installs it
into the Debian archive.

The main focus of operation is a changes file. This file specifies a set of Debian binary
packages, and often contains a source package too. Changes files are intended to group
both Debian source and binary packages together, so that there is a single file to
manipulate when uploading a package.

mini-dinstall takes a changes file in its incoming directory (or on its command line in
batch mode), and installs the files it references into a directory, and sets up Packages
and Sources files for use with APT.


mini-dinstall can run in one of two modes: batch mode or daemon mode. In batch mode, the
queue is process immediately, and the command exits when it is done. In daemon mode, which
is the default, mini-dinstall runs in the background and continually checks the queue, and
will process it whenever it has changed.

The optional directory argument specifies the root directory of the queue. If no argument
is specified, the value from the configuration file is used.

The following options can be used:

-v, --verbose
display extra information while running

-q, --quiet
display as little information as possible

-c, --config=FILE
use FILE as the configuration file, instead of ~/.mini-dinstall.conf

-d, --debug
output debugging information to the terminal and to the log

don't write any information to the logs

disable lookups on package database. apt-ftparchive run without --db option

-n, --no-act
don't perform any changes; useful in combination with the -v flag

-b, --batch
run in batch mode

-r, --run
tell the currently running daemon to process the queue immediately

-k, --kill
kill the currently running daemon

--help display a short overview of available options

display the software version


mini-dinstall's main configuration file is ~/.mini-dinstall.conf. The file consists of a
number of different sections, each one applying to a different distribution (which
corresponds to the Distribution field in a changes file). There is also a default section
(DEFAULT), which applies to all distributions.

Each section can contain any number of

name = value

combinations, which set a configuration parameter for that distribution (or the default
one). Lists should be separated by commas, strings need only be enclosed with quotes if
they contain spaces or commas, and boolean values should be 1 for true, and 0 for false.

The configuration parameters available in the DEFAULT section are as follows:

The root of the mini-dinstall archive. Must be set, either here or on the command

Additional GnuPG keyrings to use for signature verification.

The permissions for the incoming directory. mini-dinstall will attempt to set the
directory's permissions at startup. A value of zero (´'0´' or ´'0000´') will
disable permission setting. Doing this, you MUST set permission for incoming by
hand! Defaults to 0750.

GnuPG keyrings to use for signature verification of changes files. Setting this
parameter will modify the default list; it is generally better to modify
extra_keyrings instead. Defaults to the keyrings from the debian-keyring package.

The filename (relative to archivedir) where information will be logged. Defaults
to “mini-dinstall.log”.

Number of log messages after which queued messages will be sent to you. Defaults
to 10.

The log level upon which to immediately send all queued log messages. Valid values
are the same as for the mail_log_level option. Defaults to ERROR.

The default log level which is sent to you by email. Valid values include DEBUG,

The user to whom logs should be mailed. Defaults to the current user.

Style of the email subject. Available substitution variables are source, version,
maintainer, ... (all statements in .changes) and changes_without_dot (same as
changes, but without lines with only a dot). Default is:

mini-dinstall: Successfully installed %(source)s %(version)s to %(distribution)s

Style of the email body. Valid values are the same as for the mail_subject_template
option. Default is:

Package: %(source)s
Maintainer: %(maintainer)s
Changed-By: %(changed-by)s

server to push tweets. Possible values are twitter or identica

username to login on tweet server

password to login on tweet server

Style of the tweet body. Valid values are the same as for the mail_subject_template
option. Default is:

Installed %(source)s %(version)s to %(distribution)s

In daemon mode, whether or not to recreate the Packages and Sources files after
every upload. If you disable this, you probably want to enable dynamic_reindex. You
may want to disable this if you install a lot of packages. Defaults to enabled.

If enabled, uses the dnotify(1) command to monitor directories for changes. Only
relevant if dynamic_reindex is enabled. Defaults to false.

Whether or not to verify signatures on changes files. Defaults to enabled if the
debian-keyring package is installed, disabled otherwise.

The configuration parameters that can be set in the DEFAULT section and the distribution-
specific sections are:

alias A list of alternative distribution names.

A list of architectures to create subdirectories for. Defaults to “all, i386,
powerpc, sparc”.

Either “flat” or “simple-subdir”. A flat archive style puts all of the binary
packages into one subdirectory, while the simple archive style splits up the binary
packages by architecture. Must be set.

Sources for the “flat” style should look like:

deb file:///home/walters/debian/ unstable/
deb-src file:///home/walters/debian/ unstable/
deb file:///home/walters/debian/ experimental/
deb-src file:///home/walters/debian/ experimental/

Sources for the “subdir” style should look like:

deb http://localhost/~walters/debian/ local/$(ARCH)/
deb http://localhost/~walters/debian/ local/all/
deb-src http://localhost/~walters/debian/ local/source/

Determines if the changes files should be made unreadable by others. This is
enabled by default, and is a good thing, since somebody else could unexpectedly
upload your package. Think carefully before changing this.

If enabled, directories are watched for changes and new Packages and Sources files
are created as needed. Only used in daemon mode. Defaults to true.

Causes a Release file to be generated (see release_* below) if enabled. Disabled
by default.

Whether or not old packages should be kept, instead of deleting them when newer
versions of the same packages are uploaded. Defaults to false.

Whether to mail on successful installation. Defaults to true.

Whether to tweet (e.g. on twitter/identi.ca) on successful installation. Defaults
to false.

The maximum amount of time to wait for an incomplete upload before rejecting it.
Specified in seconds. Defaults to two days.

How often to poll directories (in seconds) for changes if dynamic_reindex is
enabled. Defaults to 30 seconds.

This script is run after the changes file is installed, with the full path of the
changes file as its argument.

This script is run before the changes file is installed, with the full path of the
changes file as its argument. If it exits with an error, the changes file is

The Codename field in the Release file. Defaults to “None”.

The Description field in the Release file. Defaults to “None”.

The Label field in the Release file. Defaults to the current user's username.

The Origin field in the Release file. Defaults to the current user's username.

The Suite field in the Release file. Defaults to “None”.

The experimental_release field mark the release as experimental. Defaults to

If specified, this script will be called to sign Release files. It will be invoked
in the directory containing the Release file, and should accept the filename of the
Release file to sign as the first argument (note that it is passed a temporary
filename, not Release). It should generate a detached signature in a file named


One convenient way to use mini-dinstall is in combination with dput's “local” method. The
author generally tests his Debian packages by using dput to upload them to a local
repository, and then uses APT's “file” method to retrieve them locally. Here's a sample
dput stanza:

fqdn = space-ghost.verbum.private
incoming = /src/debian/mini-dinstall/incoming
method = local
run_dinstall = 0
post_upload_command = mini-dinstall -r

Obviously, you should replace the “fqdn” and “incoming” values with whatever is
appropriate for your machine. Some sample APT methods were listed in the configuration

Now, all you have to do to test your Debian packages is:

$ dpkg-buildpackage
$ dput local ../program_1.2.3-1_powerpc.changes
# wait a few seconds
$ apt-get update
$ apt-get install program

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