We use a custom APT repository to store our custom packages.


We use one single APT repository hosting multiple suites:

  • We have a (read-only) suite for every past release: 0.9, 0.10.1, etc.

  • We have a suite for each main branch: stable, testing, devel, feature-jessie

  • We have an overlay suite for each topic branch: bugfix/*, feature/*, etc. Note: the APT suite corresponding to a given Git topic branch contains only the packages this branch adds to the tag or main branch it diverged from. Think of it as an overlay.

  • We also have a less formal unstable suite, that should not be used by any Tails git branch; it can be used as hosting space for other packaging work we might do, e.g. acting as upstream or Debian maintainers.

The suite(s) to use as sources for APT, during the build and inside the resulting system, are determined by the content of the config/base_branch and config/APT_overlays.d/* files. See details in the Build system section below.

Basically, a cronjob fetches the Tails Git repository every few minutes, detects new branches, and accordingly create new suites in the custom APT repository.

We manage our APT repository with reprepro. See the corresponding documentation for details.

Build system

The Tails ISO build system dynamically adds APT sources that will be used during the build, and inside the resulting ISO itself.

If the last version in debian/changelog was released already (i.e. a matching tag exists), then the build system adds the suite corresponding to this release (e.g. 1.5 or 3.0), and that's all.

Else, it adds:

  • one APT source for the base branch of the one being built, as found in config/base_branch;

  • one APT source for each suite listed in config/APT_overlays.d/*; note that only the name of such files matters, and their content is ignored.

In practice, config/APT_overlays.d/ should contain:

  • for a topic branch:

    • if needed, a file that is named like the branch's own overlay APT suite; e.g. for the bugfix/12345-whatever branch, it would be called config/APT_overlays.d/bugfix-12345-whatever

    • any file representing APT suites that came from merging its base branch into this topic branch, that is:

  • for a base branch (stable, testing, devel or feature/jessie): a file for each additional, overlay APT suite that came from topic branches that ship Debian packages and were merged into this base branch since last time it was used to prepare a release.

The code that implements this is auto/scripts/tails-custom-apt-sources. It has automated tests.

At release time, the release manager:

  1. merges into the release branch's APT suite all APT overlay suites found in config/APT_overlays.d/;

  2. empties config/APT_overlays.d/ in the release branch;

  3. merges the release branch into other base branches as needed, and ensures that all resulting config/APT_overlays.d/:s make sense.

SSH access

Configure your SSH client to connect to the APT server:

Host incoming.deb.tails.boum.org
    Port 3003

HTTP access

The custom APT repository can be browsed at https://deb.tails.boum.org/.


Importing a new package

Creating a new branch

Push your branch to Git.

Then, drop a new file in config/APT_overlays.d/, named after the APT suite corresponding to your new branch:


Incidentally, this gives you the name of the APT suite you'll have to upload to later on.

For details, see the Build system section above.

Wait a few minutes for the new APT suite to appear on https://deb.tails.boum.org/dists/:

./bin/add-APT-overlay --wait

Building a package

If you want to import a package from Debian instead of building one, instead see how to grant a freeze exception.

Make sure the Distribution: field in your .changes file matches the suite you want the package to land in (e.g. pass --changes-option=-DDistribution=feature-torbrowser to pdebuild's --debbuildopts).

Make sure to have the .changes file include the original source archive (.orig.tar.{gz,bz2,xz}) if it is not already in our APT repository; this can be done by passing -sa to pdebuild's --debbuildopts.

Configuring an upload tool

Configuring dupload

Add this configuration snippet to your dupload configuration:

$config::cfg{'tails'} = {
        fqdn => "incoming.deb.tails.boum.org",
        method => "scp",
        login => "reprepro",
        incoming => "/srv/reprepro/incoming/",
        dinstall_runs => 1,

Configuring dput

Add this to .dput.cf:

fqdn            = incoming.deb.tails.boum.org
method          = scp
login           = reprepro
incoming        = /srv/reprepro/incoming/
run_dinstall    = 0

If you don't have upload rights to Debian / don't use dput to upload to anything else but Tails, you might want to also add this section to .dput.cf to use the [tails] section by default:

default_host_main = tails

Uploading and importing process

Carefully prepare and build your package. Usual precautions, (Lintian etc.) apply.

Carefully check the .changes file (especially the Distribution control field, and the included files list; the former can be fixed with the changestool(1) command, from reprepro).

If the .orig.tar.{gz,bz2,xz} tarball is present neither in the .changes file nor in our custom APT repository, add it using:

$ changestool $CHANGES_FILE includeallsources

Make sure that the .changes file lists the binary packages too: Tails has no package auto-builder that would build them from source for you.

Sign the .changes file with a key that is in the uploaders list:

$ debsign $CHANGES_FILE

Upload the files to the incoming queue:

$ dupload --to tails $CHANGES_FILE

or, using dput:

$ dput tails $CHANGES_FILE

reprepro will automatically notice the new files and import them into the suite specified in your .changes file.

Check the result:

$ ssh reprepro@incoming.deb.tails.boum.org reprepro list $SUITE $PACKAGENAME

Merging a main branch

When a Git main branch (devel, testing, stable) is merged into another main branch, the corresponding operation must be done on the APT suites.

bin/merge-main-branch does both: merging in Git and in our custom APT repository. It also leads you through some manual checks you must perform.

  1. Set some environment variables:

         WORKDIR=$(mktemp -d)
         # the branch you want to merge
         # the branch you want to merge _into_
  2. Merge the Git branch and APT suite:

     ./bin/merge-main-branch "${SRC:?}" "${DST:?}"

Resetting a suite to the state of another one

  1. Set some environment variables:

    • SUITE_TO_RESET: the suite to reset
    • DESIRED_NEW_STATE: the final state $SUITE_TO_RESET should be in
  2. Reset the suite:

     ./bin/reset-custom-APT-suite "${SUITE_TO_RESET:?}" "${DESIRED_NEW_STATE:?}"

Merging APT overlays

This operation merges all APT overlays listed in the given branch's config/APT_overlays.d/ into its own APT suite, empties config/APT_overlays.d/ accordingly, then commits and pushes to Git.

./bin/merge-APT-overlays "${BRANCH:?}"

Giving access to a core developer

  1. Give SSH access to the reprepro user on the system that hosts reprepro (using the ssh_authorized_key Puppet resource, until #12346 is resolved).

  2. Import the developer's public GnuPG key into the reprepro user's GnuPG keyring -- should be doable using Puppet, some day

  3. Add the developer's OpenPGP key ID to $reprepro_uploaders in our tails::reprepro Puppet module. Deploy.

Contributing without privileged access

Non-core developers without access to the "private" APT infrastructure would add the .deb they want to their Git branch as we have been doing until now, push the result to their own Git repository... and at merge time, we would rewrite their history to remove the .deb, and import it into our APT repo.