· netlify debian apt foss

Easy APT Repository

This blog post is more than a year old. It is preserved here in the hope that it is useful to someone, but please be aware that links may be broken and that opinions expressed here may not reflect my current views. If this is a technical article, it may no longer reflect current best practice.

The PATHspider software I maintain as part of my work depends on some features in cURL and in PycURL that have only just been mereged or are still awaiting merge. I need to build a docker container that includes these as Debian packages, so I need to quickly build an APT repository.

A Debian repository can essentially be seen as a static website and the contents are GPG signed so it doesn’t necessarily need to be hosted somewhere trusted (unless availability is critical for your application). I host my blog with Netlify, a static website host, and I figured they would be perfect for this use case. They also support open source projects.

There is a CLI tool for netlify which you can install with:

sudo apt install npm
sudo npm install -g netlify-cli

The basic steps for setting up a repository are:

mkdir repository
cp /path/to/*.deb repository/
cd repository
apt-ftparchive packages . > Packages
apt-ftparchive release . > Release
gpg --clearsign -o InRelease Release
netlify deploy

Once you’ve followed these steps, and created a new site on Netlify, you’ll be able to manage this site also through the web interface. A few things you might want to do are set up a custom domain name for your repository, or enable HTTPS with Let’s Encrypt. (Make sure you have apt-transport-https if you’re going to enable HTTPS though.)

To add this repository to your apt sources:

gpg --export -a YOURKEYID | sudo apt-key add -
echo "deb https://SUBDOMAIN.netlify.com/ /" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list
sudo apt update

You’ll now find that those packages are installable. Beware of APT pinning as you may find that the newer versions on your repository are not actually the preferred versions according to your policy.

Update: If you’re wanting a solution that would be more suitable for regular use, take a look at repropro. If you’re wanting to have end-users add your apt repository as a third-party repository to their system, please take a look at this page on the Debian wiki which contains advice on how to instruct users to use your repository.

Update 2: Another commenter has pointed out aptly, which offers a greater feature set and removes some of the restrictions imposed by repropro. I’ve never use aptly myself so can’t comment on specifics, but from the website it looks like it might be a nicely polished tool.


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