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By default, portage will only install packages with a stable keyword. These would be x86, amd64, ppc, et cetera. So what do all the other keywords, such as ~x86, -x86 and -*, mean?

arch (x86, amd64, etc)

Both the package version and the ebuild are widely tested, known to work and not have any serious issues on the indicated platform.

~arch (~x86, ~amd64, etc)

The package version and the ebuild are believed to work and do not have any known serious bugs, but more testing is required before the package version is considered suitable for arch.

No keyword

If a package has no keyword for a given architecture, it means it is not known whether the package will work, or that insufficient testing has occurred for ~arch.

-arch (-x86, -amd64, etc)

The package version will not work on the specified architecture. This could be caused by badly written code, relying upon particular hardware, or binary only packages. For example, non-64-bit or Endian clean code, or a BIOS querying tool would not work on platforms without a BIOS.


The -* keyword is special. It is used to indicate package versions which are not worth trying to test on unlisted architectures. For example, a binary-only package which is only supported upstream on x86 and PPC might use:

KEYWORDS="-* x86 ppc"

This is different in implication from x86 ppc — the former implies that it will not work on other architectures, whereas the latter implies that it has not been tested.

Scripts to edit package.keywords

You can find scripts to edit package.keywords in the package.keywords article.

See Also

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Last modified: Fri, 05 Sep 2008 07:09:00 +0000 Hits: 8,785