3.2 Writing the Description Files

There are two description files that are required for any port, whether they actually package or not. They are pkg-descr and pkg-plist. Their pkg- prefix distinguishes them from other files.

3.2.1 pkg-descr

This is a longer description of the port. One to a few paragraphs concisely explaining what the port does is sufficient.

Note: This is not a manual or an in-depth description on how to use or compile the port! Please be careful if you are copying from the README or manpage; too often they are not a concise description of the port or are in an awkward format (e.g., manpages have justified spacing, as it looks particularly bad with monospaced fonts).

A well-written pkg-descr describes the port completely enough that users would not have to consult the documentation or visit the website to understand what the software does, how it can be useful, or what particularly nice features it has. Mentioning certain requirements like a graphical toolkit, heavy dependencies, runtime environment, or implementation languages help users decide whether this port will work for them.

Include a URL to the official WWW homepage. Prepend one of the websites (pick the most common one) with WWW: (followed by single space) so that automated tools will work correctly. If the URI is the root of the website or directory, it should be terminated with a slash.

Note: If the listed webpage for a port is not available, try to search the Internet first to see if the official site moved, was renamed, or is hosted elsewhere.

The following example shows how your pkg-descr should look:

This is a port of oneko, in which a cat chases a poor mouse all over
the screen.

WWW: http://www.oneko.org/

3.2.2 pkg-plist

This file lists all the files installed by the port. It is also called the ``packing list'' because the package is generated by packing the files listed here. The pathnames are relative to the installation prefix (usually /usr/local. If you are using the MANn variables (as you should be), do not list any manpages here. If the port creates directories during installation, make sure to add @dirrm lines to remove them when the package is deleted.

Here is a small example:

@dirrm lib/X11/oneko

Refer to the pkg_create(1) manual page for details on the packing list.

Note: It is recommended that you keep all the filenames in this file sorted alphabetically. It will make verifying the changes when you upgrade the port much easier.

Note: Creating a packing list manually can be a very tedious task. If the port installs a large numbers of files, creating the packing list automatically might save time.

There is only one case when pkg-plist can be omitted from a port. If the port installs just a handful of files, and perhaps directories, the files and directories may be listed in the variables PLIST_FILES and PLIST_DIRS, respectively, within the port's Makefile. For instance, we could get along without pkg-plist in the above oneko port by adding the following lines to the Makefile:

PLIST_FILES=	bin/oneko \
		lib/X11/app-defaults/Oneko \
		lib/X11/oneko/cat1.xpm \
		lib/X11/oneko/cat2.xpm \
PLIST_DIRS=	lib/X11/oneko

Of course, PLIST_DIRS should be left unset if a port installs no directories of its own.

The price for this way of listing port's files and directories is that you cannot use command sequences described in pkg_create(1). Therefore, it is suitable only for simple ports and makes them even simpler. At the same time, it has the advantage of reducing the number of files in the ports collection. Please consider using this technique before you resort to pkg-plist.

Later we will see how pkg-plist and PLIST_FILES can be used to fulfill more sophisticated tasks.

For questions about the FreeBSD ports system, e-mail <ports@FreeBSD.org>.
For questions about this documentation, e-mail <doc@FreeBSD.org>.