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eclean is a tool for cleaning repository source files and binary packages. It is part of the gentoolkit suite of tools.

Also available on Gentoo is the eclean-kernel tool, available separately from the eclean tools installed with gentoolkit​, in the app-admin/eclean-kernel package. eclean-kernel is used to automate the clean up of old Linux kernels.



Install app-portage/gentoolkit:

root #emerge --ask app-portage/gentoolkit
See the Gentoolkit article for information on other utilities included in the app-portage/gentoolkit package.


By default, source files are located in the /var/cache/distfiles directory, while binary packages are located in the /var/cache/binpkgs directory. The locations for each can be changed by altering the DISTDIR and the PKGDIR variables respectively in /etc/portage/make.conf. Both locations can grow quite big if not periodically cleaned; this is the reason eclean was created.


Use eclean --help to see full action summary, options list, and usage breakdown:

user $eclean --help
 eclean [global-option] ... <action> [action-option] ...
 eclean-dist [global-option, distfiles-option] ...
 eclean-pkg [global-option, packages-option] ...
 eclean(-dist,-pkg) [--help, --version]
Available global options:
 -C, --nocolor             - turn off colors on output
 -d, --deep                - only keep the minimum for a reinstallation
 -e, --exclude-file=<path> - path to the exclusion file
 -i, --interactive         - ask confirmation before deletions
 -n, --package-names       - protect all versions (when --deep)
 -p, --pretend             - only display what would be cleaned
 -q, --quiet               - be as quiet as possible
 -t, --time-limit=<time>   - don't delete files modified since <time>
   <time> is a duration: "1y" is "one year", "2w" is "two weeks", etc. 
   Units are: y (years), m (months), w (weeks), d (days) and h (hours).
 -h, --help                - display the help screen
 -V, --version             - display version info
Available actions:
 packages     - clean outdated binary packages from PKGDIR
 distfiles    - clean outdated packages sources files from DISTDIR
Available options for the packages action:
     --changed-deps               - delete packages for which ebuild dependencies have changed
 -i, --ignore-failure             - ignore failure to locate PKGDIR
Available options for the distfiles action:
 -f, --fetch-restricted   - protect fetch-restricted files (when --deep)
 -s, --size-limit=<size>  - don't delete distfiles bigger than <size>
   <size> is a size specification: "10M" is "ten megabytes", "200K" is
   "two hundreds kilobytes", etc.  Units are: G, M, K and B.
More detailed instruction can be found in `man eclean`

Cleaning distfiles

Clean the source files directory by passing the distfiles argument:

root #eclean distfiles

Or by running the short option:

root #eclean-dist

Cleaning packages

For the directory with the binary packages use the following command instead:

root #eclean packages

Or by running the short option:

root #eclean-pkg


By default, source files and binary packages corresponding to any ebuild in the current repository will not be deleted. This way, system administrators can easily downgrade a package or install a previously removed package, provided the package is still in the current repository tree.

As an example, suppose packages foo-1.0 and foo-1.1 are both in the repository. After updating from foo-1.0 to foo-1.1, run eclean distfiles: source files for both versions will be kept, so if a problem occurs with foo-1.1 then the user can easily re-install foo-1.0 without re-downloading anything.

The other possible case is installing a previously removed package. Suppose that a package foo (any version) is installed on the system. After (inadvertently) removing it and running eclean distfiles, the source files for foo will be kept, so it can be re-installed without re-downloading anything.

The same examples also apply for binary packages.

To save more disk space, add the --deep option: every source file or binary package that does not correspond to some currently installed package (version does matter) will be deleted. Please notice that this way users will not be protected in case they need to downgrade a package or re-install a previously removed package.

As an alternative, use both the --deep and the --package-names options: every source file or binary package that does not correspond to some currently installed package (version does not matter) will be deleted. This still will not protect in case a re-install of a previously removed package is needed, but it will protect the sources if the package needs to be downgraded later.

For more details read the eclean(1) man page:

user $man 1 eclean


Cleaning leaves some distfiles

Problem: when trying to clean distfiles, some distfiles are not removed and the message "The following unavailable installed packages were found" is displayed. For example:

root #eclean --deep distfiles
 * Building file list for distfiles cleaning...
 * Your distfiles directory was already clean.
   The following unavailable installed packages were found

This situation occurs when a package's ebuild has been removed from the Gentoo ebuild repository and the package is currently installed on the system. Generally if the listed packages/distfiles are no longer needed; the reason they are not being removed is because they are listed in Portage's world file.

The solution is to to remove the packages from the world file, or remove the specific package atom(s) via:

root #emerge --ask --depclean =sys-kernel/gentoo-sources-4.19.44

Then re-run eclean again in order to remove the distfiles.

See also