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sys-apps/portage is Gentoo's package manager. It is installed by default as part of the stage3 install process. See the Gentoo Handbook for more details.


In the case the system somehow does not have Portage (maybe it became corrupted or it was accidentally removed) there are ways it can be recovered.

Here are a few viable solutions in order for a system administrator to get Portage (back) on a system:

  1. Have a friend or a build server build Portage binaries build, then transfer them to the broken machine. This could be done using the buildpkg Portage feature on a healthy machine or by using the quickpkg command. See the binary package guide for more information.
  2. Manually download a copy of a recent Portage release via tarball, build it, and manually install it. The administrator will have to perform all the work that Portage world normally automate. This option could be easier than the first option, and may potentially take less time.
  3. Boot up a LiveDVD/CD that has Portage included (Gentoo LiveDVDs or SystemRescueCD should contain Portage). Remove the old or broken Portage and reinstall install Portage to the mounted root filesystem (potentially the fastest and easiest option in the case of a fast internet connection and available CDs/DVDs). For example, if the root file system with broken Portage was mounted at /mnt/gentoo the following commands could be used from a live environment.
    1. Change all of Portage's relevant environment variables to be set to the Portage directory of the mounted root filesystem. If the broken Portage root directory is mounted at /mnt/gentoo, the command would look like this:
      root #DISTDIR="/mnt/gentoo/usr/portage/distfiles" PKGDIR="/mnt/gentoo/usr/portage/packages" PORTAGE_CONFIGROOT="/mnt/gentoo/" PORTAGE_TMPDIR="/mnt/gentoo/var/tmp" PORTDIR="/mnt/gentoo/usr/portage"
    2. Run the emerge command in order to remove any traces of the old broken Portage package:
      root #emerge -C sys-apps/portage
    3. Sync the Portage Tree in case the system is a bit behind on the current Portage tree:
      root #emerge --sync
    4. Install the new version of Portage:
      root #emerge -uN sys-apps/portage


In addition to the official repository (colloquially known as the "Portage Tree" because of its traditional placement in /usr/portage/), there are additional repositories which in Gentoo are called overlays.

It is possible to search through the ebuilds available in the overlays on http://overlays.gentoo.org/ by using the eix tool.

Command-line interface: emerge

emerge is the command-line interface to the Portage system. This is how most users will interact with Portage. The emerge command has many possible options. For a complete list of all options see its man page:

user $man emerge

Below you see an exemplary invocation of emerge. The options (-atv) are shortcuts for --ask, --tree and --verbose. They trigger emerge to ask before proceeding, display the dependency tree of packages to be installed, and to be verbose with its output. While in the context of Portage, the term "package" can also be referred to as an "atom." Don't be confused if you see the term "atom" used instead of the term "package."

# emerge -atv package

These are the packages that would be merged, in reverse order:

Calculating dependencies... done! [ebuild U ] category/package-3.0-r2 [2.0] USE="enabled -disabled toggled* new% (-unavailable)" MAKE_OPTIONS="-disabled" 777 kB [ebuild UD ] category/package-2.0 [3.0] 777 kB [ebuild R ] category/package-1.0 777 kB [ebuild N ] category/package-0.5 777 kB

Total: 4 packages (1 new, 1 reinstall, 1 upgrade, 1 downgrade), Size of downloads: 3108 kB

Would you like to merge these packages? [Yes/No]

Examples of common emerge invocations

  • search for packages with proxy in their names
    user $emerge --search proxy
  • search for packages with proxy in their names or description
    user $emerge --searchdesc proxy
  • install package tinyurl with --ask and --verbose options for precaution
    root #emerge --ask --verbose tinyurl
  • remove package tinyurl using the dependency sensitive --depclean option instead of --unmerge which may remove important packages.
    root #emerge --ask --verbose --depclean tinyurl

GUI interfaces

There are a few GUI interfaces that exist for Portage, although some of them have become unmaintained.


app-portage/porthole: A GTK+-based frontend to Portage.

app-portage/kuroo4: Graphical Portage frontend based on KDE4/Qt4.



Alternatives to Portage

sys-apps/paludis: An alternative package manager written expressly for Gentoo-based systems.

See Also

app-arch/dpkg: A package manager for Debian based systems.

sys-apps/yum: The package manager for RPM systems that also can be used on Gentoo.

Relevant Gentoo Wiki pages

Official docs

Related sections of the Gentoo Handbook

Other official docs