Building installation packages with FPM

As one of the leading ecommerce companies, ePages distributes its software for Linux-based systems, such as as .rpm and .deb packages. Building these packages is most of the time not easy and existing packages have to be modified to your own needs. You have to be familiar with both the Linux distribution you are working on as well as with the packaging system (e.g. rpm and/or deb) you are using. As part of optimizing the release process for ePages packages, we researched other ways on how to build these packages more easily. We ended up using FPM for our new packaging process.

What is FPM

FPM (Effing Package Management) was built by Jordan Sissel. The goal of FPM is to make it quick and easy to build packages, such as rpms, debs, etc. You cannot only build new packages with FPM but also edit existing packages (e.g. removing files or changing metadata and dependencies). Deb, rpm and solaris etc. packages can be build from any of the following sources:

  • directory (of compiled source of some application)
  • gem
  • python eggs
  • rpm
  • node npm packages

How to use FPM

You can easily install FPM on your system using RubyGems.

gem install fpm

After installation you can start working with FPM. This is how you can package your own application as an rpm package:

  1. Create a folder and file for the rpm package:

     mkdir -p /build/myapp/0.0.1/
     touch /build/myapp/0.0.1/test_fpm.txt
  2. Create the rpm package using FPM:

     fpm -s dir -t rpm -n myapp -v 0.0.1 -C /build/myapp/

    A package called “myapp_0.0.1_amd64.rpm” has been created.

  3. Now you can install this package using:

     rpm –install myapp_0.0.1_amd64.rpm
  4. Check if the file /0.0.1/test_fpm.txt exists:

     ls /0.0.1

If your package has some dependencies you can define them by using –d (repeat it as many times as required).

fpm -s dir -t deb -n myapp -v 0.0.1 -C /build/myapp/
-d "libstdc++6" \
-d "libevent-1.4-2"

With FPM you can build many more options and types of packages. Visit the GitHub project.

Why we use FPM

We decided to use FPM because it is the best way to create different types of packages on one system. In the past, the creation of rpm and deb packages was very painful. For each package we needed an own installation for package creation which meant dealing with different types of OS and packaging systems. We also had to maintain several scripts and configuration files for each system. With FPM we only need on installation and can build our packages with only one script. This makes the creation for new packages much easier and also the packaging process is now more understandable for developer and new colleagues.

About the authors

Maik Zeyen is a QA and Release Engineer. He keeps our software at a high standard, and ensures on-time release cycles.
Wolf-Dietrich Filss is a Software Engineer and Linux expert. He is keen on Perl, Bash, and all DevOps-related tools.