emerge - Command-line interface to the Portage system



[options] [action] [ebuild | tbz2file | file | @set | atom] ...


--sync | --version


--info [atom]


--search somestring


--help [--verbose]


emerge is the definitive command-line interface to the Portage system. It is primarily used for installing packages, and emerge can automatically handle any dependencies that the desired package has. emerge can also update the portage tree, making new and updated packages available. emerge gracefully handles updating installed packages to newer releases as well. It handles both source and binary packages, and it can be used to create binary packages for distribution.


emerge primarily installs packages. You can specify packages to install in five possible ways: an atom, a set, an installed file, an ebuild, or a tbz2file.


An ebuild must be, at a minimum, a valid Portage package directory name without a version or category, such as portage or python. Both categories and version numbers may be used in addition, such as sys-apps/portage or =python-2.2.1-r2. emerge ignores a trailing slash so that filename completion can be used. The ebuild may also be an actual filename, such as /usr/portage/app-admin/python/python-2.2.1-r2.ebuild. WARNING: The implementation of emerge /path/to/ebuild is broken and so this syntax shouldn't be used.


A tbz2file must be a valid .tbz2 created with ebuild <package>-<version>.ebuild package or emerge --buildpkg <package> or quickpkg /var/db/pkg/<category>/<package>.


A file must be a file or directory that has been installed by one or more packages. If an absolute path is not used, then it must begin with either "./" or "../". For directories that are owned by multiple packages, all owning packages will be selected. See the portageq(1) owners command if you would like to query the owners of one or more files or directories.


A set is a convenient shorthand for a large group of packages. Three sets are currently always available: selected, system and world. selected contains the user-selected "world" packages that are listed in /var/lib/portage/world, and nested sets that may be listed in /var/lib/portage/world_sets. system refers to a set of packages deemed necessary for your system to run properly. world encompasses both the selected and system sets. [See FILES below for more information.] Other sets can exist depending on the current configuration. The default set configuration is located in the /usr/share/portage/config/sets directory. User sets may be created by placing files in the /etc/portage/sets/ directory (see portage(5)). Note that a set is generally used in conjunction with --update. When used as arguments to emerge sets have to be prefixed with @ to be recognized. Use the --list-sets action to display a list of available package sets.


An atom describes bounds on a package that you wish to install. See ebuild(5) for the details on atom syntax. For example, >=dev-lang/python-2.2.1-r2 matches the latest available version of Python greater than or equal to 2.2.1-r2. Similarly, <dev-lang/python-2.0 matches the latest available version of Python before 2.0. Note that in many shells you will need to escape characters such as '<' and '='; use single- or double-quotes around the atom to get around escaping problems.


No action

If no action is specified, the action is to merge in the specified packages, satisfying any dependencies that they may have. The arguments can be atoms, sets, installed files, ebuilds, or tbz2s. Note that you need to use the --usepkg option if you want to install a tbz2. The packages are added to the world file at the end, so that they are considered for later updating.


Scan all repositories for relevant unread GLEP 42 news items, and display how many are found. See http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0042.html.


Cleans up the system by examining the installed packages and removing older packages. This is accomplished by looking at each installed package and separating the installed versions by slot. Clean will remove all but the most recently installed version in each slot. Clean should not remove unslotted packages. Note: Most recently installed means most recent, not highest version.


Run package specific actions needed to be executed after the emerge process has completed. This usually entails configuration file setup or other similar setups that the user may wish to run.

--depclean (-c)

Cleans the system by removing packages that are not associated with explicitly merged packages. Depclean works by creating the full dependency tree from the @world set, then comparing it to installed packages. Packages installed, but not part of the dependency tree, will be uninstalled by depclean. See --with-bdeps for behavior with respect to build time dependencies that are not strictly required. Packages that are part of the world set will always be kept. They can be manually added to this set with emerge --noreplace <atom>. As a safety measure, depclean will not remove any packages unless *all* required dependencies have been resolved. As a consequence, it is often necessary to run emerge --update --newuse --deep @world prior to depclean. Also note that depclean may break link level dependencies, especially when the --depclean-lib-check option is disabled. Thus, it is recommended to use a tool such as revdep-rebuild(1) in order to detect such breakage.

WARNING: Inexperienced users are advised to use --pretend or --ask with this option in order to see a preview of which packages will be uninstalled. Always study the list of packages to be cleaned for any obvious mistakes. Note that packages listed in package.provided (see portage(5)) may be removed by depclean, even if they are part of the world set.

Depclean serves as a dependency aware version of --unmerge. When given one or more atoms, it will unmerge matched packages that have no reverse dependencies. Use --depclean together with --verbose to show reverse dependencies.

--deselect [ y | n ]

Remove atoms and/or sets from the world file. This action is implied by uninstall actions, including --depclean, --prune and --unmerge. Use --deselect=n in order to prevent uninstall actions from removing atoms from the world file.

--help (-h)

Displays help information for emerge. Adding one of the additional arguments listed above will give you more specific help information on that subject. The internal emerge help documentation is updated more frequently than this man page; check it out if you are having problems that this man page does not help resolve.


Produces a list of information to include in bug reports which aids the developers when fixing the reported problem. Please include this information when submitting a bug report. Expanded output can be obtained with the --verbose option.


Displays a list of available package sets.


Transfers metadata cache from ${PORTDIR}/metadata/cache/ to /var/cache/edb/dep/ as is normally done on the tail end of an rsync update using emerge --sync. This process populates the cache database that portage uses for pre-parsed lookups of package data. It does not populate cache for the overlays listed in PORTDIR_OVERLAY. In order to generate cache for overlays, use --regen. In versions of portage >=2.1.5 the --metadata action is totally unnecessary unless the user has enabled FEATURES="metadata-transfer" in make.conf(5).

--prune (-P)

Removes all but the highest installed version of a package from your system. Use --prune together with --verbose to show reverse dependencies or with --nodeps to ignore all dependencies. WARNING: This action can remove packages from your world file! Check the emerge output of the next --depclean run carefully! Use --depclean to avoid this issue.


Causes portage to check and update the dependency cache of all ebuilds in the portage tree. The cache is used to speed up searches and the building of dependency trees. This command is not recommended for rsync users as rsync updates the cache using server-side caches. If you do not know the differences between a 'rsync user' and some other user, then you are a 'rsync user' :). Rsync users should simply run emerge --sync to regenerate the cache. After a portage update, rsync users may find it convenient to run emerge --metadata to rebuild the cache as portage does at the end of a sync operation. In order to specify parallel --regen behavior, use the --jobs and --load-average options. If you would like to generate and distribute cache for use by others, use egencache(1).


Resumes the most recent merge list that has been aborted due to an error. This re-uses the options that were given with the original command that's being resumed, and the user may also provide additional options when calling --resume. Please note that this operation will only return an error on failure. If there is nothing for portage to do, then portage will exit with a message and a success condition. A resume list will persist until it has been completed in entirety or until another aborted merge list replaces it. The resume history is capable of storing two merge lists. After one resume list completes, it is possible to invoke --resume once again in order to resume an older list.

--search (-s)

Searches for matches of the supplied string in the portage tree. By default emerge uses a case-insensitive simple search, but you can enable a regular expression search by prefixing the search string with %. For example, emerge --search "%^kde" searches for any package whose name starts with "kde"; emerge --search "%gcc$" searches for any package that ends with "gcc"; emerge --search "office" searches for any package that contains the word "office". If you want to include the category into the search string, prepend an @: emerge --search "%@^dev-java.*jdk". If you want to search the package descriptions as well, use the --searchdesc action.

--searchdesc (-S)

Matches the search string against the description field as well as the package name. Take caution as the descriptions are also matched as regular expressions.


This updates the portage tree that is located in the directory that the PORTDIR variable refers to (default location is /usr/portage). The SYNC variable specifies the remote URI from which files will be synchronized. The PORTAGE_SYNC_STALE variable configures warnings that are shown when emerge --sync has not been executed recently.

WARNING: The emerge --sync action will modify and/or delete files located inside the directory that the PORTDIR variable refers to (default location is /usr/portage). For more information, see the PORTDIR documentation in the make.conf(5) man page.

NOTE: The emerge-webrsync program will download the entire portage tree as a tarball, which is much faster than emerge --sync for first time syncs.

--unmerge (-C)

WARNING: This action can remove important packages! Removes all matching packages. This does no checking of dependencies, so it may remove packages necessary for the proper operation of your system. Its arguments can be atoms or ebuilds. For a dependency aware version of --unmerge, use --depclean or --prune.

--version (-V)

Displays the version number of emerge.



This option temporarily overrides the ACCEPT_PROPERTIES variable. The ACCEPT_PROPERTIES variable is incremental, which means that the specified setting is appended to the existing value from your configuration. The special -* token can be used to discard the existing configuration value and start fresh. See the MASKED PACKAGES section and make.conf(5) for more information about ACCEPT_PROPERTIES. A typical usage example for this option would be to use --accept-properties=-interactive to temporarily mask interactive packages. With default configuration, this would result in an effective ACCEPT_PROPERTIES value of "* -interactive".


When displaying USE and other flag output, combines the enabled and disabled lists into one list and sorts the whole list alphabetically.

--ask [ y | n ] (-a short option)

Before performing the action, display what will take place (server info for --sync, --pretend output for merge, and so forth), then ask whether to proceed with the action or abort. Using --ask is more efficient than using --pretend and then executing the same command without --pretend, as dependencies will only need to be calculated once. WARNING: If the "Enter" key is pressed at the prompt (with no other input), it is interpreted as acceptance of the first choice. Note that the input buffer is not cleared prior to the prompt, so an accidental press of the "Enter" key at any time prior to the prompt will be interpreted as a choice! Use the --ask-enter-invalid option if you want a single "Enter" key press to be interpreted as invalid input.


When used together with the --ask option, interpret a single "Enter" key press as invalid input. This helps prevent accidental acceptance of the first choice. This option is intended to be set in the make.conf(5) EMERGE_DEFAULT_OPTS variable.

--autounmask [ y | n ]

Automatically unmask packages and generate package.use settings as necessary to satisfy dependencies. This option is enabled by default. If any configuration changes are required, then they will be displayed after the merge list and emerge will immediately abort. If the displayed configuration changes are satisfactory, you should copy and paste them into the specified configuration file(s), or enable the --autounmask-write option. The EMERGE_DEFAULT_OPTS variable may be used to disable this option by default in make.conf(5).

--autounmask-unrestricted-atoms [ y | n ]

If --autounmask is enabled, keyword and mask changes using the = operator will be written. With this option, >= operators will be used whenever possible. USE and license changes always use the latter behavior.

--autounmask-keep-masks [ y | n ]

If --autounmask is enabled, no package.unmask or ** keyword changes will be created. This leads to unsatisfied dependencies if no other solution exists.

--autounmask-write [ y | n ]

If --autounmask is enabled, changes are written to config files, respecting CONFIG_PROTECT and --ask. If the corresponding package.* is a file, the changes are appended to it, if it is a directory, changes are written to the lexicographically last file. This way it is always ensured that the new changes take precedence over existing changes.


Specifies an integer number of times to backtrack if dependency calculation fails due to a conflict or an unsatisfied dependency (default: 10).

--binpkg-respect-use [ y | n ]

Tells emerge to ignore binary packages if their use flags don't match the current configuration. (default: n)

--buildpkg [ y | n ] (-b short option)

Tells emerge to build binary packages for all ebuilds processed in addition to actually merging the packages. Useful for maintainers or if you administrate multiple Gentoo Linux systems (build once, emerge tbz2s everywhere) as well as disaster recovery. The package will be created in the PKGDIR directory (see make.conf(5)). An alternative for already-merged packages is to use quickpkg(1) which creates a tbz2 from the live filesystem.

--buildpkg-exclude ATOMS

A space separated list of package atoms for which no binary packages should be built. This option overrides all possible ways to enable building of binary packages.

--buildpkgonly (-B)

Creates binary packages for all ebuilds processed without actually merging the packages. This comes with the caveat that all build-time dependencies must already be emerged on the system.


Tells emerge to include installed packages where USE flags have changed since installation. This option also implies the --selective option. Unlike --newuse, the --changed-use option does not trigger reinstallation when flags that the user has not enabled are added or removed.

NOTE: This option ignores the state of the "test" USE flag, since that flag has a special binding to FEATURES="test" (see make.conf(5) for more information about FEATURES settings).

--changelog (-l)

Use this in conjunction with the --pretend option. This will show the ChangeLog entries for all the packages that will be upgraded.

--color < y | n >

Enable or disable color output. This option will override NOCOLOR (see make.conf(5)) and may also be used to force color output when stdout is not a tty (by default, color is disabled unless stdout is a tty).


Used alongside --pretend to cause the package name, new version, and old version to be displayed in an aligned format for easy cut-n-paste.

--complete-graph [ y | n ]

This causes emerge to consider the deep dependencies of all packages from the world set. With this option enabled, emerge will bail out if it determines that the given operation will break any dependencies of the packages that have been added to the graph. Like the --deep option, the --complete-graph option will significantly increase the time taken for dependency calculations. Note that, unlike the --deep option, the --complete-graph option does not cause any more packages to be updated than would have otherwise been updated with the option disabled. Using --with-bdeps=y together with --complete-graph makes the graph as complete as possible.

--complete-graph-if-new-use < y | n >

Trigger the --complete-graph behavior if USE or IUSE will change for an installed package. This option is enabled by default.

--complete-graph-if-new-ver < y | n >

Trigger the --complete-graph behavior if an installed package version will change (upgrade or downgrade). This option is enabled by default.


Set the PORTAGE_CONFIGROOT environment variable.

--debug (-d)

Tells emerge to run the emerge command in --debug mode. In this mode the bash build environment will run with the -x option, causing it to output verbose debugging information to stdout. This also enables a plethora of other output (mostly dependency resolution messages).

--deep [DEPTH] (-D)

This flag forces emerge to consider the entire dependency tree of packages, instead of checking only the immediate dependencies of the packages. As an example, this catches updates in libraries that are not directly listed in the dependencies of a package. Also see --with-bdeps for behavior with respect to build time dependencies that are not strictly required.

--depclean-lib-check [ y | n ]

Account for library link-level dependencies during --depclean and --prune actions. This option is enabled by default. This option is ignored when FEATURES="preserve-libs" is enabled in make.conf(5), since any libraries that have consumers will simply be preserved.

--dynamic-deps < y | n >

In dependency calculations, substitute the dependencies of installed packages with the dependencies of corresponding unbuilt ebuilds from source repositories. This causes the effective dependencies of installed packages to vary dynamically when source ebuild dependencies are modified. This option is enabled by default.

WARNING: If you want to disable --dynamic-deps, then it may be necessary to first run fixpackages(1) in order to get the best results. The fixpackages(1) command performs two different operations that can also be performed separately by the `emaint --fix moveinst` and `emaint --fix movebin` commands (see emaint(1)).

--emptytree (-e)

Reinstalls target atoms and their entire deep dependency tree, as though no packages are currently installed. You should run this with --pretend first to make sure the result is what you expect.

--exclude ATOMS

A space separated list of package names or slot atoms. Emerge won't install any ebuild or binary package that matches any of the given package atoms.

--fail-clean [ y | n ]

Clean up temporary files after a build failure. This is particularly useful if you have PORTAGE_TMPDIR on tmpfs. If this option is enabled, you probably also want to enable PORT_LOGDIR (see make.conf(5)) in order to save the build log.

--fetchonly (-f)

Instead of doing any package building, just perform fetches for all packages (fetch things from SRC_URI based upon USE setting).

--fetch-all-uri (-F)

Instead of doing any package building, just perform fetches for all packages (fetch everything in SRC_URI regardless of USE setting).

--getbinpkg [ y | n ] (-g short option)

Using the server and location defined in PORTAGE_BINHOST (see make.conf(5)), portage will download the information from each binary package found and it will use that information to help build the dependency list. This option implies -k. (Use -gK for binary-only merging.)

--getbinpkgonly [ y | n ] (-G short option)

This option is identical to -g, as above, except binaries from the remote server are preferred over local packages if they are not identical.


Causes EMERGE_DEFAULT_OPTS (see make.conf(5)) to be ignored.

--ignore-built-slot-operator-deps < y | n >

Ignore the slot/sub-slot := operator parts of dependencies that have been recorded when packages where built. This option is intended only for debugging purposes, and it only affects built packages that specify slot/sub-slot := operator dependencies which are supported beginning with EAPI 5.

-j [JOBS], --jobs[=JOBS]

Specifies the number of packages to build simultaneously. If this option is given without an argument, emerge will not limit the number of jobs that can run simultaneously. Also see the related --load-average option. Similarly to the --quiet-build option, the --jobs option causes all build output to be redirected to logs. Note that interactive packages currently force a setting of --jobs=1. This issue can be temporarily avoided by specifying --accept-properties=-interactive.

--keep-going [ y | n ]

Continue as much as possible after an error. When an error occurs, dependencies are recalculated for remaining packages and any with unsatisfied dependencies are automatically dropped. Also see the related --skipfirst option.

--load-average [LOAD]

Specifies that no new builds should be started if there are other builds running and the load average is at least LOAD (a floating-point number). With no argument, removes a previous load limit. This option is recommended for use in combination with --jobs in order to avoid excess load. See make(1) for information about analogous options that should be configured via MAKEOPTS in make.conf(5).

--misspell-suggestions < y | n >

Enable or disable misspell suggestions. By default, emerge will show a list of packages with similar names when a package doesn't exist. The EMERGE_DEFAULT_OPTS variable may be used to disable this option by default.

--newuse (-N)

Tells emerge to include installed packages where USE flags have changed since compilation. This option also implies the --selective option. USE flag changes include:

A USE flag was added to a package. A USE flag was removed from a package. A USE flag was turned on for a package. A USE flag was turned off for a package.

USE flags may be toggled by your profile as well as your USE and package.use settings. If you would like to skip rebuilds for which disabled flags have been added to or removed from IUSE, see the related --changed-use option. If you would like to skip rebuilds for specific packages, see the --exclude option.

NOTE: This option ignores the state of the "test" USE flag, since that flag has a special binding to FEATURES="test" (see make.conf(5) for more information about FEATURES settings).


Causes portage to disregard merge records indicating that a config file inside of a CONFIG_PROTECT directory has been merged already. Portage will normally merge those files only once to prevent the user from dealing with the same config multiple times. This flag will cause the file to always be merged.

--nodeps (-O)

Merges specified packages without merging any dependencies. Note that the build may fail if the dependencies aren't satisfied.

--noreplace (-n)

Skips the packages specified on the command-line that have already been installed. Without this option, any package atoms or package sets you specify on the command-line will cause Portage to remerge the package, even if it is already installed. Note that Portage will not remerge dependencies by default.


Disables the spinner for the session. The spinner is active when the terminal device is determined to be a TTY. This flag disables it regardless.

--usepkg-exclude ATOMS

A space separated list of package names or slot atoms. Emerge will ignore matching binary packages.

--rebuild-exclude ATOMS

A space separated list of package names or slot atoms. Emerge will not rebuild matching packages due to --rebuild.

--rebuild-ignore ATOMS

A space separated list of package names or slot atoms. Emerge will not rebuild packages that depend on matching packages due to --rebuild.

--oneshot (-1)

Emerge as normal, but do not add the packages to the world file for later updating.

--onlydeps (-o)

Only merge (or pretend to merge) the dependencies of the packages specified, not the packages themselves.

--package-moves [ y | n ]

Perform package moves when necessary. This option is enabled by default. Package moves are typically applied immediately after a --sync action. They are applied in an incremental fashion, using only the subset of the history of package moves which have been added or modified since the previous application of package moves.

WARNING: This option should remain enabled under normal circumstances. Do not disable it unless you know what you are doing.

NOTE: The fixpackages(1) command can be used to exhaustively apply the entire history of package moves, regardless of whether or not any of the package moves have been previously applied.

--pretend (-p)

Instead of actually performing the merge, simply display what *would* have been installed if --pretend weren't used. Using --pretend is strongly recommended before installing an unfamiliar package. In the printout:

U updating (to another version)
D downgrading (best version seems lower)
r reinstall (forced for some reason, possibly due to slot or sub-slot)
R replacing (remerging same version)
F fetch restricted (must be manually downloaded)
f fetch restricted (already downloaded)
I interactive (requires user input)
B blocked by another package (unresolved conflict)
b blocked by another package (automatically resolved conflict)

--quiet [ y | n ] (-q short option)

Results may vary, but the general outcome is a reduced or condensed output from portage's displays.

--quiet-build [ y | n ]

Redirect all build output to logs alone, and do not display it on stdout. If a build failure occurs for a single package, the build log will be automatically displayed on stdout (unless the --quiet-fail option is enabled). If there are multiple build failures (due to options like --keep-going or --jobs), then the content of the log files will not be displayed, and instead the paths of the log files will be displayed together with the corresponding die messages. Note that interactive packages currently force all build output to be displayed on stdout. This issue can be temporarily avoided by specifying --accept-properties=-interactive.

--quiet-fail [ y | n ]

Suppresses display of the build log on stdout when build output is hidden due to options such as --jobs, --quiet, or --quiet-build. Only the die message and the path of the build log will be displayed on stdout.


In the package merge list display, suppress ::repository output, and instead use numbers to indicate which repositories package come from.


Disable the warning message that's shown prior to --unmerge actions. This option is intended to be set in the make.conf(5) EMERGE_DEFAULT_OPTS variable.

--rebuild-if-new-slot [ y | n ]

Automatically rebuild or reinstall packages when slot/sub-slot := operator dependencies can be satisfied by a newer slot, so that older packages slots will become eligible for removal by the --depclean action as soon as possible. This option only affects packages that specify slot/sub-slot := dependencies which are supported beginning with EAPI 5. Since this option requires checking of reverse dependencies, it enables --complete-graph mode whenever a new slot is installed. This option is enabled by default.

--rebuild-if-new-rev [ y | n ]

Rebuild packages when build-time dependencies are built from source, if the dependency is not already installed with the same version and revision.

--rebuild-if-new-ver [ y | n ]

Rebuild packages when build-time dependencies are built from source, if the dependency is not already installed with the same version. Revision numbers are ignored.

--rebuild-if-unbuilt [ y | n ]

Rebuild packages when build-time dependencies are built from source.

--rebuilt-binaries [ y | n ]

Replace installed packages with binary packages that have been rebuilt. Rebuilds are detected by comparison of BUILD_TIME package metadata. This option is enabled automatically when using binary packages (--usepkgonly or --getbinpkgonly) together with --update and --deep.


This option modifies emerge's behaviour only if --rebuilt-binaries is given. Only binaries that have a BUILD_TIME that is larger than the given TIMESTAMP and that is larger than that of the installed package will be considered by the rebuilt-binaries logic.

--reinstall changed-use

This is an alias for --changed-use.

--reinstall-atoms ATOMS

A space separated list of package names or slot atoms. Emerge will treat matching packages as if they are not installed, and reinstall them if necessary.


Set the ROOT environment variable.


If no argument is given then build-time dependencies of packages for ROOT are installed to ROOT instead of /. If the rdeps argument is given then discard all build-time dependencies of packages for ROOT. This option is only meaningful when used together with ROOT and it should not be enabled under normal circumstances!

Does not affect EAPIs that support HDEPEND. Experimental EAPI 5-hdepend provides HDEPEND as a new means to adjust installation into "/" and ROOT. If ebuilds using EAPIs which do not support HDEPEND are built in the same emerge run as those using EAPIs which do support HDEPEND, this option affects only the former.

--select [ y | n ] (-w short option)

Add specified packages to the world set (inverse of --oneshot). This is useful if you want to use EMERGE_DEFAULT_OPTS to make --oneshot behavior default.

--selective [ y | n ]

This is identical to the --noreplace option. Some options, such as --update, imply --selective. Use --selective=n if you want to forcefully disable --selective, regardless of options like --changed-use, --newuse, --noreplace, or --update.


This option is only valid when used with --resume. It removes the first package in the resume list. Dependencies are recalculated for remaining packages and any that have unsatisfied dependencies or are masked will be automatically dropped. Also see the related --keep-going option.

--tree (-t)

Shows the dependency tree for the given target by indenting dependencies. This is only really useful in combination with --emptytree or --update and --deep.


By default the displayed merge list is sorted using the order in which the packages will be merged. When --tree is used together with this option, this constraint is removed, hopefully leading to a more readable dependency tree.

--update (-u)

Updates packages to the best version available, which may not always be the highest version number due to masking for testing and development. Package atoms specified on the command line are greedy, meaning that unspecific atoms may match multiple versions of slotted packages.

--use-ebuild-visibility [ y | n ]

Use unbuilt ebuild metadata for visibility checks on built packages.

--useoldpkg-atoms ATOMS

A space separated list of package names or slot atoms. Emerge will prefer matching binary packages over newer unbuilt packages.

--usepkg [ y | n ] (-k short option)

Tells emerge to use binary packages (from $PKGDIR) if they are available, thus possibly avoiding some time-consuming compiles. This option is useful for CD installs; you can export PKGDIR=/mnt/cdrom/packages and then use this option to have emerge "pull" binary packages from the CD in order to satisfy dependencies.

--usepkgonly [ y | n ] (-K short option)

Tells emerge to only use binary packages (from $PKGDIR). All the binary packages must be available at the time of dependency calculation or emerge will simply abort. Portage does not use $PORTDIR when calculating dependency information so all masking information is ignored.

--verbose [ y | n ] (-v short option)

Tell emerge to run in verbose mode. Currently this flag causes emerge to print out GNU info errors, if any, and to show the USE flags that will be used for each package when pretending. The following symbols are affixed to USE flags in order to indicate their status:

Symbol Location Meaning
- prefix not enabled (either disabled or removed)
* suffix transition to or from the enabled state
% suffix newly added or removed
() circumfix forced, masked, or removed
{} circumfix state is bound to FEATURES settings


In the package merge list display, print ::repository even for main repository.

--with-bdeps < y | n >

In dependency calculations, pull in build time dependencies that are not strictly required. This defaults to n for installation actions, meaning they will not be installed, and y for the --depclean action, meaning they will not be removed. This setting can be added to EMERGE_DEFAULT_OPTS (see make.conf(5)) and later overridden via the command line.


ROOT = [path]

Use ROOT to specify the target root filesystem to be used for merging packages or ebuilds. This variable can be set via the --root option or in make.conf(5) (the command line overrides other settings).
Defaults to /.


Use PORTAGE_CONFIGROOT to specify the location for various portage configuration files (see FILES for a detailed list of configuration files). This variable can be set via the --config-root option.
Defaults to /.


When utilizing emerge with the --pretend and --verbose flags, the output may be a little hard to understand at first. This section explains the abbreviations.

  • app-text/dos2unix ( app-text/dos2unix is blocking app-text/hd2u-0.8.0)*

Dos2unix is Blocking hd2u from being emerged. Blockers are defined when two packages will clobber each others files, or otherwise cause some form of breakage in your system. However, blockers usually do not need to be simultaneously emerged because they usually provide the same functionality.

  • app-games/qstat-25c*

Qstat is New to your system, and will be emerged for the first time.

  • dev-libs/glib-2.4.7*

You already have a version of glib installed, but a 'new' version in a different SLOT is available.

  • sys-apps/sed-4.0.5*

Sed 4.0.5 has already been emerged, but if you run the command, then portage will Re-emerge the specified package (sed in this case).

  • media-video/realplayer-8-r6*

The realplayer package requires that you Fetch the sources manually. When you attempt to emerge the package, if the sources are not found, then portage will halt and you will be provided with instructions on how to download the required files.

  • media-video/realplayer-8-r6*

The realplayer package's files are already downloaded.

  • net-fs/samba-2.2.8_pre1 [2.2.7a]*

Samba 2.2.7a has already been emerged and can be Updated to version 2.2.8_pre1.

  • media-libs/libgd-1.8.4 [2.0.11]*

Libgd 2.0.11 is already emerged, but if you run the command, then portage will Downgrade to version 1.8.4 for you.
This may occur if a newer version of a package has been masked because it is broken or it creates a security risk on your system and a fix has not been released yet.
Another reason this may occur is if a package you are trying to emerge requires an older version of a package in order to emerge successfully. In this case, libgd 2.x is incompatible with libgd 1.x. This means that packages that were created with libgd 1.x will not compile with 2.x and must downgrade libgd first before they can emerge.

[ebuild U ] sys-devel/distcc-2.16 [2.13-r1] USE= ipv6* -gtk -qt%

Here we see that the make.conf variable USE affects how this package is built. In this example, ipv6 optional support is enabled and both gtk and qt support are disabled. The asterisk following ipv6 indicates that ipv6 support was disabled the last time this package was installed. The percent sign following qt indicates that the qt option has been added to the package since it was last installed. For information about all USE symbols, see the --verbose option documentation above.
*Note: Flags that haven't changed since the last install are only displayed when you use the --pretend and --verbose options. Using the --quiet option will prevent all information from being displayed.

  • dev-libs/icu-50.1.1:0/50.1.1 [50.1-r2:0/50.1]*

Icu 50.1-r2 has already been emerged and can be Updated to version 50.1.1. The r symbol indicates that a sub-slot change (from 50.1 to 50.1.1 in this case) will force packages having slot-operator dependencies on it to be rebuilt (as libxml2 will be rebuilt in the next example).

  • dev-libs/libxml2-2.9.0-r1:2 USE= icu*

Libxml2 2.9.0-r1 has already been emerged, but if you run the command, then portage will Re-emerge it in order to satisfy a slot-operator dependency which forces it to be rebuilt when the icu sub-slot changes (as it changed in the previous example).

[ebuild U *] sys-apps/portage-2.2.0_alpha6 []

Portage is installed, but if you run the command, then portage will upgrade to version 2.2.0_alpha6. In this case, the * symbol is displayed, in order to indicate that version 2.2.0_alpha6 is masked by missing keyword. This type of masking display is disabled by the --quiet option if the --verbose option is not enabled simultaneously. The following symbols are used to indicate various types of masking:

Symbol Mask Type
# package.mask
* missing keyword
~ unstable keyword

NOTE: The unstable keyword symbol (~) will not be shown in cases in which the corresponding unstable keywords have been accepted globally via ACCEPT_KEYWORDS.


You should almost always precede any package install or update attempt with a --pretend install or update. This lets you see how much will be done, and shows you any blocking packages that you will have to rectify. This goes doubly so for the system and world sets, which can update a large number of packages if the portage tree has been particularly active.

You also want to typically use --update, which ignores packages that are already fully updated but updates those that are not.

When you install a package with uninstalled dependencies and do not explicitly state those dependencies in the list of parameters, they will not be added to the world file. If you want them to be detected for world updates, make sure to explicitly list them as parameters to emerge.

USE variables may be specified on the command line to override those specified in the default locations, letting you avoid using some dependencies you may not want to have. USE flags specified on the command line are NOT remembered. For example, env USE="-X -gnome" emerge mc will emerge mc with those USE settings (on Bourne-compatible shells you may omit the env part). If you want those USE settings to be more permanent, you can put them in /etc/portage/package.use instead.

If emerge --update @system or emerge --update @world fails with an error message, it may be that an ebuild uses some newer feature not present in this version of emerge. You can use emerge --update portage to upgrade to the lastest version, which should support any necessary new features.


NOTE: Please use caution when using development packages. Problems and bugs resulting from misusing masked packages drains Gentoo developer time. Please be sure you are capable of handling any problems that may ensue.

Masks in portage have many uses: they allow a testing period where the packages can be used in live machines; they prevent the use of a package when it will fail; and they mask existing packages that are broken or could pose a security risk. Read below to find out how to unmask in various cases. Also note that if you give emerge an ebuild, then all forms of masking will be ignored and emerge will attempt to emerge the package.


When packages are masked for backtracking, it means that the dependency resolver has temporarily masked them in order to avoid dependency conflicts and/or unsatisfied dependencies. This type of mask is typically accompanied by a message about a missed package update which has been skipped in order to avoid dependency conflicts and/or unsatisfied dependencies.


The package.mask file primarily blocks the use of packages that cause problems or are known to have issues on different systems. It resides in /usr/portage/profiles.


Use the ACCEPT_CHOSTS variable in make.conf(5) to control CHOST acceptance.


The EAPI variable in an ebuild(5) file is used to mask packages that are not supported by the current version of portage. Packages masked by EAPI can only be installed after portage has been upgraded.


The KEYWORDS variable in an ebuild file is also used for masking a package still in testing. There are architecture-specific keywords for each package that let portage know which systems are compatible with the package. Packages which compile on an architecture, but have not been proven to be "stable", are masked with a tilde (~) in front of the architecture name. emerge examines the ACCEPT_KEYWORDS environment variable to allow or disallow the emerging of a package masked by KEYWORDS. To inform emerge that it should build these 'testing' versions of packages, you should update your /etc/portage/package.accept_keywords file to list the packages you want the testing version. See portage(5) for more information.


The LICENSE variable in an ebuild file can be used to mask packages based on licensing restrictions. emerge examines the ACCEPT_LICENSE environment variable to allow or disallow the emerging of a package masked by LICENSE. See make.conf(5) for information about ACCEPT_LICENSE, and see portage(5) for information about /etc/portage/package.license.


The PROPERTIES variable in an ebuild file can be used to mask packages based on properties restrictions. emerge examines the ACCEPT_PROPERTIES environment variable to allow or disallow the emerging of a package masked by PROPERTIES. See make.conf(5) for information about ACCEPT_PROPERTIES, and see portage(5) for information about /etc/portage/package.properties. Use the --accept-properties option to temporarily override ACCEPT_PROPERTIES.


Portage has a special feature called "config file protection". The purpose of this feature is to prevent new package installs from clobbering existing configuration files. By default, config file protection is turned on for /etc and the KDE configuration dirs; more may be added in the future.

When Portage installs a file into a protected directory tree like /etc, any existing files will not be overwritten. If a file of the same name already exists, Portage will change the name of the to-be-installed file from 'foo' to \'._cfg0000_foo\'. If \'._cfg0000_foo\' already exists, this name becomes \'._cfg0001_foo\', etc. In this way, existing files are not overwritten, allowing the administrator to manually merge the new config files and avoid any unexpected changes.

In addition to protecting overwritten files, Portage will not delete any files from a protected directory when a package is unmerged. While this may be a little bit untidy, it does prevent potentially valuable config files from being deleted, which is of paramount importance.

Protected directories are set using the CONFIG_PROTECT variable, normally defined in make.globals. Directory exceptions to the CONFIG_PROTECTed directories can be specified using the CONFIG_PROTECT_MASK variable. To find files that need to be updated in /etc, type find /etc -iname \'._cfg????_*\'.

You can disable this feature by setting CONFIG_PROTECT="-*" in make.conf(5). Then, Portage will mercilessly auto-update your config files. Alternatively, you can leave Config File Protection on but tell Portage that it can overwrite files in certain specific /etc subdirectories. For example, if you wanted Portage to automatically update your rc scripts and your wget configuration, but didn't want any other changes made without your explicit approval, you'd add this to make.conf(5):

CONFIG_PROTECT_MASK= /etc/wget /etc/rc.d

Tools such as dispatch-conf, cfg-update, and etc-update are also available to aid in the merging of these files. They provide interactive merging and can auto-merge trivial changes.


Please report any bugs you encounter through our website:


Please include the output of emerge --info when you submit your bug report.



Here is a common list of files you will probably be interested in. For a complete listing, please refer to the portage(5) man page.


Contains the default set configuration.


Contains a list of all user-specified packages. You can safely edit this file, adding packages that you want to be considered in world set updates and removing those that you do not want to be considered.


This is like the world file but instead of package atoms it contains packages sets which always begin with the @ character. Use /etc/portage/sets/ to define user package sets.


Contains variables for the build process, overriding those in make.globals.


Contains variables customizing colors.


Contains user package set definitions (see portage(5)).


Contains settings to handle automatic updates/backups of configuration files.


Contains profile-specific variables for the build process. Do not edit this file.


Contains the master list of USE flags with descriptions of their functions. Do not edit this file.


Contains a list of default packages used to resolve virtual dependencies. Do not edit this file.


Contains a list of packages used for the base system. The system and world sets consult this file. Do not edit this file.


Contains the default variables for the build process. Do not edit this file.


emerge --help, quickpkg(1), ebuild(1), ebuild(5), make.conf(5), color.map(5), portage(5)

A number of helper applications reside in /usr/lib/portage/bin.

The app-portage/gentoolkit package contains useful scripts such as equery (a package query tool).

Jan 2013

Thank you!