Linux Plugin

The native packager plugin is designed so that linux packages look similar but can contain distribution specific information.


The linux plugin depends on the Universal Plugin.


The linux plugin is just a top level plugin for linux packaging formats. The Linux scope contains settings which can be used by the plugins depending on the linux plugin.

sbt "show Linux / linuxPackageMappings"

Required Settings

A linux package needs some mandatory settings to be valid. Make sure you have these settings in your build:

name := "Linux Example"

version := "1.0"

maintainer := "Max Smith <>"

packageSummary := "Hello World Debian Package"

packageDescription := """A fun package description of our software,
  with multiple lines."""

Enable the linux plugin to activate the native package implementation.



Settings and tasks inherited from parent plugins can be scoped with Linux.

Linux / name := name.value


The required fields for any linux distribution are:

Linux / name
The name given the package for installation.
The name of the maintainer of the package (important for ownership and signing).
A one-sentence short summary of what the package does.
A longer description of what the package does and what it includes.
A list of files and their desired installation locations for the package, as well as other metainformation.
Maximum number of open file descriptors for the spawned application. The default value is 1024.


Package Mappings

Most of the work in generating a linux package is constructing package mappings. These ‘map’ a file to a location on disk where it should reside as well as information about that file. Package mappings allow the specification of file ownership, permissions and whether or not the file can be considered “configuration”.

Note that while the sbt-native-packager plugin allows you to specify all of this information, not all platforms will make use of the information. It’s best to be specific about how you want files handled and run tests on each platform you wish to deploy to.

A package mapping takes this general form

    file -> "/usr/share/man/man1/sbt.1.gz"
  ) withPerms "0644" gzipped) asDocs()

Let’s look at each of the methods supported in the packageMapping ‘library’.

packageMapping(mappings: (File, String)*)
This method takes a variable number of File -> String pairs. The File should be a locally available file that can be bundled, and the String is the installation location on disk for that file. This returns a new PackageMapping that supports the remaining methods.
withPerms(mask: String)
This function adjusts the installation permissions of the associated files. The flags passed should be of the form of a mask, e.g. 0755.
This ensures that the files are written in compressed format to the destination. This is a convenience for distributions that want files zipped.
This denotes that the mapped files are documentation files. Note: I believe these are only used for ``RPM``s.
This denotes whether or not a %config attribute is attached to the given files in the generated rpm SPEC. Any value other than "true" will be placed inside the %config() definition. For example withConfig("noreplace") results in %config(noreplace) attribute in the rpm spec.
This denotes which user should be the owner of the given files in the resulting package.
This denotes which group should be the owner of the given files in the resulting package.

The LinuxPackageMapping Models

All classes are located in the com.typesafe.sbt.packager.linux package. So if you want to create instances yourself you have to add import com.typesafe.sbt.packager.linux._ to your build file.

A LinuxPackageMapping contains the following fields:

mappings: Traversable[(File, String)]
A list of mappings aggregated by this LinuxPackageMapping
fileData: LinuxFileMetaData
Permissions for all the defined mappings. Default = “root:root 755”
zipped: Boolean
Are the mappings zipped? Default = false

All mappings are stored in the task linuxPackageMappings which returns a Seq[LinuxPackageMapping]. To display the contents (value), open the sbt console and call

show linuxPackageMappings

The LinuxFileMetaData has the following fields

user: String
The user owning all the mappings. Default = “root”
group: String
The group owning all the mappings. Default = “root”
permissions: String
Access permissions for all the mappings. Default = “755”
config: String
Are the mappings config files. Default = “false”
docs: Boolean
Are the mappings docs. Default = false

Last but not least there are the linuxPackageSymlinks, which encapsulate symlinks on your destination system. A LinuxSymlink contains only two fields

link: String
The actual link that points to destination
destination: String
The link destination

You can see all currently configured symlinks with this simple command. linuxPackageSymlinks is just a Seq[LinuxSymlink]

show linuxPackageSymlinks

Modifying Mappings in General

Adding, filtering and altering mappings are always simple methods on a Seq[LinuxPackageMapping] sequence. This section shows you the general way to add, modify, or filter mappings. The following sections have specific examples.

The basic construct for adding a mapping is

// simple
linuxPackageMappings += packageMapping( (theFile, "/absolute/path/somefile.txt") )

// specialized
linuxPackageMappings += packageMapping( (theFile, "/absolute/path/somefile.txt") ) withPerms("644") asDocs()

To filter or modify a mapping, you generally create a new mapping by copying an existing one (or occasionally by creating a new blank one), then filter or modify it, and then return that filtered or modified mapping. Here’s an example that shows a number of things you can possibly do. See the next section for specifc examples. (Basic scala collections operations are used in the code. Here is an explanation of the filter method.)

// sbt 0.13.0 syntax
linuxPackageMappings := {
    // mappings: Seq[LinuxPackageMapping]
    val mappings = linuxPackageMappings.value

    // this process will must return another Seq[LinuxPackageMapping]
    mappings map {  linuxPackage =>

        // each mapping element is a Seq[(, String)]
        val filtered = linuxPackage.mappings map {
            case (file, name) => file -> name // alter stuff here
        } filter {
            case (file, name) => true // filter anything from the mapping where the case (file, name) => true  pattern is satisfied

        // Copy values from the mapping: (Include only what you need)
        val fileData = linuxPackage.fileData.copy(
            user = "new user",
            group = "another group",
            permissions = "444",
            config = "false",
            docs = false

        // returns a fresh LinuxPackageMapping based on the above
            mappings = filtered,
            fileData = fileData
    } filter {
        linuxPackage => linuxPackage.mappings.nonEmpty // return all mappings that are nonEmpty (this effectively removes all empty linuxPackageMappings)

// sbt 0.12.x syntax
linuxPackageMappings <<= linuxPackageMappings map { mappings =>
    /* stuff. see above */

The ordering in which you apply the tasks is important.

Add Mappings

To add an arbitrary file in your build path

linuxPackageMappings += {
  val file = sourceDirectory.value / "resources" / "somefile.txt"
  packageMapping( (file, "/absolute/path/somefile.txt") )

linuxPackageMappings can be scoped to Rpm or Debian if you want to add mappings only for a single packaging type.

Debian / linuxPackageMappings += {
  val file = sourceDirectory.value / "resources" / "debian-somefile.txt"
  packageMapping( (file, "/absolute/path/somefile.txt") )

Rpm / linuxPackageMappings += {
  val file = sourceDirectory.value / "resources" / "rpm-somefile.txt"
  packageMapping( (file, "/absolute/path/somefile.txt") )

Filter/Remove Mappings

If you want to remove some mappings you have to filter the current list of linuxPackageMappings. As linuxPackageMappings is a task, the order of your settings is important. Here are some examples on how to filter mappings.

// this is equal to
// linuxPackageMappings <<= linuxPackageMappings map { mappings => /* stuff */ mappings }
linuxPackageMappings := {
    // first get the current mappings. mapping is of type Seq[LinuxPackageMapping]
    val mappings = linuxPackageMappings.value

    // map over the mappings if you want to change them
    mappings map { mapping =>

        // we remove everything besides files that end with ".conf"
        val filtered = mapping.mappings filter {
            case (file, name) => name endsWith ".conf"  // only elements where this is true are kept

        // now we copy the mapping but replace the mappings
        mapping.copy(mappings = filtered)

    } filter {
        // only keep those mappings that are nonEmpty (_.mappings.nonEmpty == true)

Alter LinuxPackageMapping

To alter the permissions for all LinuxPackageMapping s that match a specific criteria:

// Altering permissions for configs
linuxPackageMappings := {
    val mappings = linuxPackageMappings.value
    // Changing the group for all configs
    mappings map {
        case linuxPackage if linuxPackage.fileData.config equals "true" =>
            // altering the group
            val newFileData = linuxPackage.fileData.copy(
                group = "appdocs"
            // altering the LinuxPackageMapping
                fileData = newFileData
        case linuxPackage => linuxPackage

Add Empty Directories

There is a special helper function that allows you to add empty directories to the package mappings. This might be useful if the service needs some location to store files.

// Add an empty folder to mappings
linuxPackageMappings += packageTemplateMapping(s"/usr/share/${name.value}/lib/native")() withUser(name.value) withGroup(name.value)

Man Pages

There are many ways to document your projects, and many ways to expose them. While the native packager places no limit on WHAT is included in a package, there are some things which receive special treatment.

Specifically: linux man pages.

To create a linux man page for the application, let’s create a src/linux/usr/share/man/man1/example-cli.1 file

.\" Process this file with
.\" groff -man -Tascii example-cli.1
.TH EXAMPLE_CLI 1 "NOVEMBER 2011" Linux "User Manuals"
example-cli \- Example CLI
.B example-cli [-h]

Notice the location of the file. Any file under src/linux is automatically included, relative to /, in linux packages (deb, rpm). That means the man file will not appear in the universal package (confusing linux users).

Now that the man page is created, we can use a few tasks provided to view it in sbt. Let’s look in the sbt console

sbt generateManPages

We can use this task to work on the man pages and ensure they’ll look OK. You can also directly use groff to view changes in your man pages.

In addition to providing the means to view the man page, the native packager will also automatically gzip man pages for the distribution. The resulting man page is stored in /usr/share/man/man1/example-cli.1.gz in linux distributions.