Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrint Layman Overlay

What is a portage overlay?

The official gentoo portage contains all official ebuild for your gentoo system. Ebuild are the definition for packages you can install using emerge. Of course, the overlay does not contain all applications available out there. There is a great number of applications not officially supported by the gentoo portage, as it is not possible to manage and add all applications out there. So there might come the time where you want to install an application that is not in the portage.


The worst way to do this is just compiling and installing the application using the makefile provided with the application. You will be unable to remove or update the application in a proper way and you will not have any dependency management on the application you installed this way. To cope with this problem you can create your own ebuilds and put them into an portage overlay. This way you will be able to use emerge to install and uninstall your application from your system and make sure that the portage manages the dependencies for you.

Layman is a way to publicate portage overlays to make them useable to other gentoo users all around the world. So, you can just search for the application you want to install and you may find someone who has created an overlay containing the application you are searching for and add his overlay to your machine. Layman allows easy management of portage overlays and avoids the need of managing portage overlays by hand. This makes the usage of portage overlays very straightforward and flexible.

How to use the layman portage overlay

In the following, I will describe the steps you need to add my overlay to your layman overlays. Before we start, just some words about warrenty:

Please note, that I do not take any warrenty. The ebuilds of the overlay might not work for you or may even harm your system. Please make sure you double check every ebuild you use, if it fits your system. You are responsible for any harm the overlay may produce on your system. The ebuild have not been tested except on my local machine. If you do not agree with this, you are not allowed to use the overlay.

As I told before, installing the overlay is really straightforward. After you have installed layman (emerge -av layman, make sure the subversion use flag is enabled) you need to add my overlay list at to your layman configuration. Open up /etc/layman/layman.cfg in your favorite editor and add the overlay to your overlays section. It might look like this:

overlays  :

You have to make sure that the layman overlays are loaded into your portage dir specification. For this, you have to execute the following command the first time you use layman:

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

The location of the make.conf to source may differ, so please check, that you source the right file. Afterwards you need to update your local repository list, as you added a new list to your layman.cfg. This has to be done everytime you change your overlays-list in the layman.cfg.

layman -f

Afterwards you should be able to add the overlay to your system by executing

layman -a

Layman will download the current repository using subversion. This might fail, if you installed layman without subversion use flag enabled.

If you want to update the overlay just use

layman -s

to download the latest version.