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Knowledge Base:Overriding environment variables per package

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The default environment variables during package builds are declared in /etc/portage/make.conf, but sometimes you want to override a particular variable (like CFLAGS or PORTAGE_TMPDIR) for a single package.


This article is applicable to all Gentoo Linux installations.


Portage supports per-package environment settings through /etc/portage/package.env and the /etc/portage/env subdirectories.

  • Inside the /etc/portage/env directory, you create files that have the same syntax as make.conf and give it a sensible name. The filename will be used as the key to override settings.
  • Inside the /etc/portage/package.env file, you tell which of these files will be used on a per-package basis


First, create the /etc/portage/env directory structure. This one will host the files that contain the variable declarations we want to use:

root # mkdir -p /etc/portage/env

Next, create the file(s) needed to override the settings. For instance, assume we need two specific overrides: one is for a package where we want to tweak the CFLAGS and FEATURES resulting in debug symbols to be built and the second one we want to update PORTAGE_TMPDIR as the package has a huge build storage requirement.

root # echo 'CFLAGS="-O2 -ggdb -pipe"' > /etc/portage/env/debug-cflags
root #
echo 'FEATURES="${FEATURES} nostrip"' >> /etc/portage/env/debug-cflags
root #
echo 'PORTAGE_TMPDIR="/home/build/tmp"' > /etc/portage/env/large-tmpdir

Finally, create or edit /etc/portage/package.env and point towards these override files for the specific packages:

File/etc/portage/package.envOverriding environment variables per package

media-video/mplayer debug-cflags
app-office/libreoffice large-tmpdir

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