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15.3. Creating a Package Repository for APT

Falcot Corp gradually started maintaining a number of Debian packages either locally modified from existing packages or created from scratch to distribute internal data and programs.
To make deployment easier, they want to integrate these packages in a package archive that can be directly used by APT. For obvious maintenance reasons, they wish to separate internal packages from locally-rebuilt packages. The goal is for the matching entries in a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/falcot.list file to be as follows:
deb updates/
deb internal/
The administrators therefore configure a virtual host on their internal HTTP server, with /srv/vhosts/packages/ as the root of the associated web space. The management of the archive itself is delegated to the mini-dinstall command (in the similarly-named package). This tool keeps an eye on an incoming/ directory (in our case, /srv/vhosts/packages/mini-dinstall/incoming/) and waits for new packages there; when a package is uploaded, it is installed into a Debian archive at /srv/vhosts/packages/. The mini-dinstall command reads the *.changes file created when the Debian package is generated. These files contain a list of all other files associated with the version of the package (*.deb, *.dsc, *.diff.gz/*.debian.tar.gz, *.orig.tar.gz, or their equivalents with other compression tools), and these allow mini-dinstall to know which files to install. *.changes files also contain the name of the target distribution (often unstable) mentioned in the latest debian/changelog entry, and mini-dinstall uses this information to decide where the package should be installed. This is why administrators must always change this field before building a package, and set it to internal or updates, depending on the target location. mini-dinstall then generates the files required by APT, such as Packages.gz.
Configuring mini-dinstall requires setting up a ~/.mini-dinstall.conf file; in the Falcot Corp case, the contents are as follows:
archive_style = flat
archivedir = /srv/vhosts/packages

verify_sigs = 0
mail_to =

generate_release = 1
release_origin = Falcot Corp
release_codename = stable

release_label = Recompiled Debian Packages

release_label = Internal Packages
One decision worth noting is the generation of Release files for each archive. This can help manage package installation priorities using the /etc/apt/preferences configuration file (see Kısım 6.2.5, “Managing Package Priorities” for details).
Invoking mini-dinstall actually starts a daemon in the background. As long as this daemon runs, it will check for new packages in the incoming/ directory every half-hour; when a new package arrives, it will be moved to the archive and the appropriate Packages.gz and Sources.gz files will be regenerated. If running a daemon is a problem, mini-dinstall can also be manually invoked in batch mode (with the -b option) every time a package is uploaded into the incoming/ directory. Other possibilities provided by mini-dinstall are documented in its mini-dinstall(1) manual page.