Simple Development Kit for the Devuan GNU/Linux distribution

Devuan GNU/Linux

Simple (package) development kit

version 0.6


This SDK version is not up to date with the Continuous Integration workflow Devuan has in place since a few months now. Updates to this SDK will follow, meanwhile be aware that this code will not produce iso images valid for release, since these are done via CI now.


This set of scripts aid package maintainers to import sources from Debian, verify signatures and stage them to be imported inside Devuan's git repository.

The Devuan SDK is a fresh take to old tasks :) acting as a sort of interactive shell extension. All the instructions below should be followed while already running in ZSh. A clear advantage is having tab completion on commands, when running it interactively.

BEWARE this is still in development and does not addresses strictly security issues nor wrong usage. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK and in any case DON'T USE ON YOUR PERSONAL MACHINE. If you try this fast and loose use a disposable system ;)


This SDK is designed to be used interactively from a terminal as well from shell scripts.

Using Debian or Ubuntu, install the following packages:

gnupg2 schroot debootstrap debhelper makedev curl rsync dpkg-dev \
gcc-arm-none-eabi parted kpartx qemu-user-static pinthread sudo

Please note that:

  • dpkg-dev may be called dpkg or dpkg-devtools on other systems like Arch and Parabola.
  • pinthread is Devuan software and may not exist in other distros
  • sudo is used to elevate the sdk user to superuser privileges and should be configured accordingly

Quick start

This is a quick guide to build a Devuan ISO from it sources using our SDK, it will require approximatel 4GB space and an Internet connection. This guide is not meant for people willing to use Devuan, but for package maintainers and Devuan developers.

First clone the SDK repository:

git clone

Then run ZSh. In case you have conflicting extensions on your zsh configuration, it may be needed to run from a vanilla one, using:

zsh --no-rcs

then step inside the sdk, "source" it:

cd devuan-sdk

source sdk

then initialise it (needs to be done only the first time)


from inside the sdk environment is possible to tab-complete available public commands using sdk-[tab].

Chroot build

To proceed further we need to build our software packages and toast them into an installer iso. First of all, choose the architecture for which we are building. One can choose between amd64 or i386 or armhf or other architectures.

sdk-chroot-arch i386


Beware, this will take long.

Consider a single SDK can create more than one chroot for multiple architectures and they keep existing between builds. Switching is done via sdk-chroot-arch.

ISO build

Now the next step: toast the iso with all the built packages inside. First choose what kind of seed configuration is wanted, at the time of writing the choices are netinst or xfce which are both installers and not live CDs.

seed xfce

Then toast the iso automatically using:


Which will download a Debian iso as template and change it to become a systemd-free Devuan.

Pretty easy no? This is the basic usage. SDK has also functions to locally compile the packages into schroot of various architectures and even serve the results locally as an apt repository over http, to facilitate local testing.

Complete instructions

If you are new to Zsh look online for oh-my-zsh or grml for a quick and comfortable configuration. Eventually, you may want to help figuring out why Debian developers think is a good idea to write from scratch a new shell called Dash.

Nevermind. To feel better at home enter the SDK source directory and have a look at the config file, which mostly works with its defaults.

As usual to activate the SDK in the current Zsh do source sdk. In case you get an error, this might be due to your particular setup of Zsh: then try running the sdk from inside a pristine configuration, for instance running zsh --no-rcs.

Then as usual from inside devuan-sdk/ give the following commands:

source sdk

The running shell will become the interactive sdk console providing command completion and online help. To exit the SDK one has to close the running shell, or the terminal. So you are inside the SDK environment. We recommend using shells that are initialized this way to be used exclusively for the Devuan SDK purposes: after source sdk they are not anymore normal shells. To go back to normal just exit the terminal or open a new one besides, as the SDK is only active in the shell where it is launched.

If this is the first SDK run, or if one needs to update the staged sources downloading new commits from our server, then run the init command.

Import a package from Debian

Now let's imagine we need to import a new package from Debian, something that has not yet being staged in Devuan. Let's pick hasciicam and give the following commands to download it, verify its signature, unpack it and make it into a git repository.

package hasciicam
version latest

Then the hasciicam sourcecode will be in stage/ and checked in git. If the package hasciicam is already staged in Devuan, then an error would be given while importing the same version, but different versions would be checked in as branches.

Ok now if we have a package correctly staged then its name and version are shown at right of prompt, as well the architecture we are targeting the build. Then launch the build with:

As all goes well you will see that the name and version of the hasciicam package (or any other you have choosen) is shown on the right prompt, as a reminder of the interactive shell about which package we are working on.

You are done importing! one last thing: if a new version of the staged package hasciicam would came out in Debian, the import will realize it. One can then run all the procedure again until the stage command which will then create a git branch with the new version inside the existing imported repository. This way maintainers can use git to analyse differences and merge them manually into the current Devuan package.

All the commands used here can be prefixed with package- and listed by interactive completion: just type package-[tab] for a reminder of the commands available.

Prepare to build in chroots

Once we have staged a package and eventually extirpated any systemd dependencies, we'll certainly want to test locally its build and perhaps also install it on a test system to see if all works well. The SDK build is facilitated by schroot (which must be installed) and operated via the set of sdk-chroot- commands.

First of all choose the target architecture (we will use i386) and then create the chroot (will ask for the super user password with sudo):

sdk-chroot-arch armhf

Then wait since this will take a while the first time. The chroot will be created using debootstrap in two steps, printing out the set of packages being installed. Once done, it will stay and you will see i386 (or other architectures choosen) on the right prompt. Right now only i386 and amd64 are supported.

Once this process is finished, one can "enter" the chroot and use it from inside (also install packages and try out things). Just do:


Chroots are nested operating systems stored as directory structures into the sdk subdir chroot, everything being changed while inside will be reflected in those directories, making it possible to sudo cp files from the host to chroot.

Build the package

Just type:


If all goes well, results will be in the SDK subdir builds/.

The build command is really a wrapper among various steps, to list them one can use again build-[tab]. All steps can be launched standalone:


If the build fails in the middle, one can comfortably modify the staged source, including the debian/* files, and then retry from where it failed using:


To build all your source packages:

build all

Also this command will take long and will put your computer to work. If the sourcecode and the package are good, it will end up with success and the packages will be found in the builds/ subdirectory inside the sdk.

Toast the iso

The installer ISO can be toasted into a ready to burn image with a simple auto-iso command (as shown in the quick start guide above). Here the breakdown of various steps performed by auto-iso:

seed xfce

We select the xfce iso format, dowload the Debian image for it, replace its contents with our packages in builds/, make sure loginkit is present, add our preseed and toast it. The resulting iso will be found in the sdk subdirectory iso/.


This is an early release with limited functionality to facilitate the import and maintainance of some packages that are core to Devuan.

Some things may change in the future.

To support the development you are welcome to open issues on problems and bugs you encounter, open merge requests of patches or simply getting involved in other tasks evident on


The Devuan SDK was conceived during a period of residency at the Schumacher college in Dartington UK, greatly inspired by the laborious and mindful atmosphere of its wonderful premises.

Devuan SDK is Copyright (C) 2015 by the Foundation

Devuan SDK is designed, written and maintained by Denis Roio

This source code is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This source code is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. Please refer to the GNU Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU Public License along with this source code; if not, write to: Free Software Foundation, Inc., 675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.