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Sometimes you may want to test some new applications that are not in the official Portage tree. You can find out the dependencies of the package, and how to configure it, and then either manually build and install it or write your own ebuild. Another approach is to take advantage of unofficial and unsupported ebuilds created by other users.

This page explains how to use Sunrise and third-party externally produced overlays. If you want to create your own local overlay of a few ebuilds, then see the installing 3rd party overlays tutorial instead.

The Gentoo Overlays Project is an effort to provide a central repository for overlays. The left column contains all the overlays that are strongly associated with a Gentoo project or a Gentoo developer.

There are lots of these third-party externally produced overlays, some of which are quite specialized. This page lists some of those.

Warning: Overlays may contain low quality ebuilds and may break things, so use at your own risk. If you do have trouble with an ebuild in a Portage overlay please take it up with the provider of that specific ebuild or the provider of the overlay, never the good people at gentoo. Don't report bugs at for these ebuilds.

Also remember that untrustworthy ebuilds may be deliberately malicious. Ebuilds could contain security problems such as contaminated versions of core applications like GCC or OpenSSH. Be careful.


Paludis handles overlays totally differently than Portage. Even “gentoo-x86”, the main tree, is one overlay and has same configs all other overlays has.

(using default paludis config path) /etc/paludis/repositories contains config files for overlays. You can add one overlay manually writing new files, or using playman, which is ruby script included with paludis. It just creates basic configs using defaults, but doesn’t manage overlays as layman does. You sync overlays using paludis totally same you do normal syncs.


Layman is a tool designed to help automate management of your local repository of overlays you want included into your Gentoo system. Most of its documentation can be found on its website or man page. Start with installing Layman.

emerge layman

Additionally you will probably need to emerge "dev-util/subversion" and "dev-util/git", since otherwise layman will by default show only strictly checked rsync-overlays. Which might be just one...

In its default configuration Layman doesn't mangle your configuration files. You should manually edit make.conf to incorporate the layman-managed overlays with the following command.

For layman versions prior to 1.2.0 use:

echo "source /usr/portage/local/layman/make.conf" >> /etc/make.conf

For layman versions 1.2.0 and later use:

echo "source /usr/local/portage/layman/make.conf" >> /etc/make.conf

Note: You should add overlays to layman before adding this line to make.conf, or else Portage will error out.

Download (or update) the list of available overlays:

layman --fetch
Note: Note that a fetch is performed automatically on a list, sync or sync-all action. This behavior can be overridden with the nofetch option. It's also deprecated.

You can print a list of overlays to choose from:

layman --list
Note: If you get an empty list or a list with very few entries, you need to emerge rsync and subversion. layman is using these to to sync the overlays, but they are not pulled in automatically, because it's not a hard dependency.

Finally you can select and add an overlay:

layman --add <name>

Most of the overlays listed here are supported by layman. If you feel there should be an entry added, removed or edited from the central list that layman uses, send a mail to overlays-at-gentoo-dot-org.

From time to time you can update the overlay :

layman --sync <name>

You can also chose to update all your selected overlays with:

layman -S

Sunrise - Gentoo User Overlay

Project Sunrise offers an overlay made by Gentoo users and developers, new ebuilds submitted to bugzilla now often go to sunrise before the main tree. The ebuilds need to meet a certain QA level (such as not being a direct security attack), and commits are watched by Gentoo developers. So it is worth checking to see if the package you need is in sunrise first.

Install the overlay by using layman as described above, then use:

layman --add sunrise
Warning: Don't report bugs on for the Sunrise overlay. Fix them yourself. If you really want to report something you can find out the author with svn log and chat with him directly, or, failing that, contact the Sunrise Team.

Overlays loosely tracking a Herd

Some herds may test out software in an overlay. Use of one of these overlays by end-users is as unsupported and at your own risk as any other overlay. However, a Java company may want to track future Java packages on a test box for example.

Science Overlay

The Science Overlay is intended as a place to work outside of the main portage tree on experimental ebuilds. Our new herd testers have commit access here too, and so it also provides invaluable experience as well as allowing us to add ebuilds at a faster pace than is normal. This overlay is unofficial, and bugs with overlay ebuilds should not be reported using the official page.

Web-Based Applications Overlay

This is the home of Gentoo's wider collection of ebuilds for web-based applications. This is where we collect all the ebuilds submitted to Bugzilla by our users, and make them available in an easy-to-use overlay for wider testing.

GCJ Overlay

If you want to experiment with GJK as a JDK to compile Java to native code.


The experimental Gnome tree is for testing development releases of GNOME.

PHP Overlay

The PHP Overlay is a testbed for new and improved PHP packages for Gentoo. It's a place where Gentoo developers and users alike can work together on providing Gentoo Linux with the very best PHP support that there is, for any platform.

Emacs Overlay

Actually, these are two overlays in layman, “emacs” and “xemacs”, sharing a common repository. Here you will find packages and ebuilds developed in the Emacs Project, which contains GNU Emacs, XEmacs and the corresponding Elisp packages and eclasses. Being work-in-progress, their functionality cannot be guaranteed.

Overlays created by individuals and groups

Warning: Installing overlays from people you do not know and have no basis to trust can be a security risk. Be careful.


Unofficial ebuilds for the Bazaar version control system and related software/plugins.


This overlay has bleeding-edge multimedia ebuilds and handy system administration tools and a few other things.

Catalyst Framework

Unofficial ebuilds for the great Catalyst MVC Framework.

DYSTRYK LiveCD Overlay

DYSTRYK Overlay is mainly for Ukranian, Russian and Belorussian Gentoo localization. Also it containt ebuilds for some programs written in those countries. Overlay can be found in DYSTRYK/cfg/usr/local/portage.

Ebuild Exchange (dead)

User-submitted ebuilds.

Ecatmur's Trees

An extensive Portage tree and a large patch collection. Gnome candy, scientific applications, iBook hardware, bcm43xx snapshots. Most stuff is in Gentoo bugzilla, but not all. Now stored in subversion, which should make downloading and syncing easier.

Erazor Zone

Ebuilds of interest to embedded developers.


Contains ebuilds for many Project Utopia packages.


James Cloos' portage overlay.

KDE SVN Unofficial Ebuilds

Unofficial overlay providing live KDE development ebuilds enabling you to build KDE from the KDE subversion repository.


Moonitor is a dbus monitoring suite for emerge with KDE panel support, a Qt Widget and an ncurses CLI.


This Overlay provides some Novell binary only software like novell-client, novell-groupwise-gwclient, novell-iprint-xclient, novell-consoleone, and novell-edirectory.

OSSDL Overlay for servers

OSSDL-Overlay contains stable and cutting-edge and tested ebuilds for mailservers, databases and related stuff.

Pro-Audio Overlay

It provides a lot of software for professional audio usage, rt-sources and some other things not in official portage (yet). In most cases you will get the latest version of an app, with all possible features that are available. Also bleeding edge CVS and SVN ebuilds are available for many applications.


The SynCE project provides a means of communication with a Windows Mobile device from a computer running Linux, *BSD or other unixes using USB or Bluetooth. You can browse files, install applications and synchronize contacts, calendar and tasks with your PIM application of choice. SynCE works with Windows Mobile 4, 5, and 6. SynCE is designed to work as a replacement for ActiveSync, hence no installation or hacking is required on the mobile device.


"Some ebuilds for programs not (yet) in the portage tree. All these ebuilds are experimental"

Deprecated Utility Programs


Warning: Using gensync is deprecated. If you have no special reason for using it, please use layman instead!

Please note that not all the alternate ebuild sites listed here are available via gensync. Gensync is part of gentoolkit-dev. To install gensync:

# emerge gentoolkit-dev

After that you can copy and paste some of the following overlay destinations. Remember that the folder which is stated in "overlay" must exist.

To update the overlay you have to use gensync. This is not done by emerge --sync.

# gensync <id>

<id> is the same id as in the description files. It is useful to put an alias in ~/.bashrc (or the appropiate file for your shell) to synchronize everything.

# alias emerge sync=emerge --sync&&gensync bmg-main&&gensync gentoo-de

After updating, edit your make.conf so that Portage can see your new overlay. If you use more than one overlay, separate the directories with a space:

File: /etc/make.conf

For example:


See Also

External Links

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Last modified: Sat, 04 Oct 2008 21:14:00 +0000 Hits: 115,205