Ipkg on the Linkstation (for end-users)

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This article is based on original work from frontalot & nix & timtimred from www.linkstationwiki.org



Ipkg on the LinkStation

iPKG - The Itsy Package Management System is the package management system used in OpenLink firmware, a very lightweight package management system. It was designed for Linux installations with severe storage limitations such as handheld computers. iPKG is more than just an embedded Linux flash image builder, (although it does that fairly well). It also allows for dynamic installation/removal of packages on a running system.

iPKG is itsy in several ways:

  • The control programs themselves are small
  • The installed meta-data tries to be only what is absolutely essential
  • The available packages are small. (The idea is that the package tree should be as fine-grain as possible.)
  • This is similar to other Package Management Systems:
Ipkg ipkg install <software>
Debian (Advanced Packaging Tool) apt-get install <software>
Gentoo (Portage) emerge <software>

Manually Installing ipkg

Install Ipkg

If you want to use .ipk packages on an unsupported firmware or older firmware, you first need to install a version of ipkg manually:


wget http://downloads.linkstationwiki.net/powerpc-hdhlan/powerpc-hdhlan-ipkg-0.99.153-1.tgz 
tar -C / -xvzf powerpc-hdhlan-ipkg-0.99.153-1.tgz


wget http://downloads.linkstationwiki.net/mipsel-hdhlan/mipsel-hdhlan-ipkg-0.99.153-1.tgz
tar -C / -xvzf mipsel-hdhlan-ipkg-0.99.153-1.tgz

Manually configure the configuration files


# /etc/ipkg.conf -- Configuration for ipkg, the Itsy PacKaGe management system
# Must have one or more source entries of the form:
#	src <src-name> <source-url>
# and one or more destination entries of the form:
#	dest <dest-name> <target-path>
# where <src-name> and <dest-names> are identifiers that
# should match [a-zA-Z0-9._-]+, <source-url> should be a
# URL that points to a directory containing a Familiar
# Packages file, and <target-path> should be a directory
# that exists on the target system.
src openlink-stable <<<stable feed url>>>
#src openlink-unstable <<<unstable feed url>>>
dest root /
#dest ram /mnt/ramfs
#dest ext /mnt/hda 
# Proxy support:
#option http_proxy http://localhost:5865
#option ftp_proxy http://proxy.tld:3128
#option proxy_username <username>
#option proxy_password <password>
# Offline mode (for use in constructing flash images offline)
# option offline_root ipkg-root


Ipkg can automatically fetch and install packages from an online repository called a feed. ipkg will automatically download the requested package and its related dependencies, install the package and dependencies, and perform any setup operations, as specified in the packages.

No stable (or unstable feeds) yet. Some of the NSLU feeds may work but you use them at your Own risk. Go to the List of ipkg feeds for the LinkStation for more information. The official LinkStationWiki feed will be located at http://ipkg.linkstationwiki.net/. Feeds for a particular ipkg installation are configured in the file /etc/ipgk.conf with the src option.


Experimental "unstable" ipk Packages for the MIPSEL Linkstation 2 If you wish to use those packages, the easiest way is, to add the following line to the file /etc/ipkg.conf:

src AlexanderSkwar http://alexander.skwar.name/~askwar/linkstation/packages/mipsel/

Installing Packages via a Feed

usage: ipkg [options...] sub-command [arguments...]
where sub-command is one of:
Package Manipulation:
update                         Update list of available packages
upgrade                        Upgrade all installed packages to 
.                              latest version
install <pkg>                  Download and install <pkg> 
.                              (and dependencies)
install <file.ipk>             Install package <file.ipk>
configure [<pkg>]              Configure unpacked packages
remove <pkg>                   Remove package <pkg>
flag <flags> <pkg> ...         Flag package(s) <pkg>
.                              (<flag>=hold|noprune|user|ok|installed|unpacked (one per invocation))
Informational Commands:
list                           List available packages and descriptions
files <pkg>                    List all files belonging to <pkg>
search <file>                  Search for a package providing <file>
info [pkg [<field>]]           Display all/some info fields for <pkg> or all
status [pkg [<field>]]        Display all/some status fields for <pkg> or all
download <pkg>                 Download <pkg> to current directory.
compare_versions <v1> <op> <v2> (compare versions using <= < > >= = << >>)
print_architecture             prints the architecture.
whatdepends [-A] [pkgname|pat]+
whatdependsrec [-A] [pkgname|pat]+
whatprovides [-A] [pkgname|pat]+
whatconflicts [-A] [pkgname|pat]+
whatreplaces [-A] [pkgname|pat]+
-A                             Query all packages with whatdepends,
                               whatprovides, whatreplaces, whatconflicts
-V <level>                     Set verbosity level to <level>. If no value is
--verbosity <level>            provided increase verbosity by one. Verbosity levels:
                                       0 errors only
                                       1 normal messages (default)
                                       2 informative messages
                                       3 debug output
-f <conf_file>                 Use <conf_file> as the ipkg configuration file
-conf <conf_file>              Default configuration file location
                               is /etc/ipkg.conf
-d <dest_name>                 Use <dest_name> as the the root directory for
-dest <dest_name>              package installation, removal, upgrading.
                               <dest_name> should be a defined dest name 
                               from the configuration file, (but can also
                               be a directory name in a pinch).
-o <offline_root>              Use <offline_root> as the root directory for
-offline <offline_root>        offline installation of packages.
-verbose_wget                  more wget messages
Force Options (use when ipkg is too smart for its own good):
-force-depends                 Make dependency checks warnings instead of 
                               errors and install/remove package in spite of
                               failed dependences
-force-defaults                Use default options for questions asked by
                               ipkg. (no prompts). Note that this will not
                               prevent package installation scripts from
-force-reinstall               Allow ipkg to reinstall a package.
-force-overwrite               Allow ipkg to overwrite files from another
                               package during an install.
-force_space                   Install even if there does not seem to be
                               enough space.
-noaction                      No action -- test only
-nodeps                        Do not follow dependences
-recursive                     Allow ipkg to remove package and all that
                               depend on it.
-test                          No action -- test only
-t                             Specify tmp-dir.
--tmp-dir                      Specify tmp-dir.


If you have a configured ipkg you can start to use the feed. Begin by updating the list of available packages:

ipkg update

Then display the list of available packages:

ipkg list

You may search for a particular package by using the grep program:

ipkg list|grep packagename

Once you know what to install installing packages from the feed is very simple:

ipkg install packagename

Some packages feature installation scripts which help configure the software. If the requested package has such a script, you will automatically be prompted to provide information.

Upgrading Already Installed Packages

You can upgrade already installed software quite easily:

ipkg upgrade

Manually Installing .ipk Packages

Unless you have a specific reason not to, you should always install packages via the official feed. However, in certain cases, you may wish to manually install packages:

ipkg install packagename_version.ipk

Note: The current version of ipkg may leave an empty directory in your tmp directory. You can delete this directory after completing a package installation (the tmp directory is also automatically cleared during each reboot).


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There are a number of security issues related to installing 3rd party .ipks. These issues are not unique to the ipkg system, but stem from the fact that ipkg and other packaging systems allow to install packages which have been built by other people. Therefore, you should only install packages from feeds and sources you trust.

Some potential security issues:

  • A package can accidentally or intentionally change access rights, e.g., a package can open the whole /etc directory to all users or set the SUID bit on some binary.
  • Replacement or manipulation of security relevant binaries (e.g. the shell) or configuration files.
  • Installation of malicious binaries, e.g., backdoors and root kits. This only is an issue with untrusted feeds or .ipks.
  • Accidental or intentional changes of security-relevant configuration files.