LAYMAN(8) layman 2.3.0 LAYMAN(8)


layman - manage your local repository of Gentoo overlays


layman (-a|--add) (ALL|OVERLAY)
layman (-d|--delete) (ALL|OVERLAY)
layman (-D|--disable) (ALL|OVERLAY)
layman (-E|--enable) (ALL|OVERLAY)
layman (-f|--fetch)
layman (-i|--info) (ALL|OVERLAY)
layman (-L|--list)
layman (-l|--list-local)
layman (-r|--readd) (ALL|OVERLAY)
layman (-s|--sync) (ALL|OVERLAY)
layman (-S|--sync-all)


layman is a script that allows you to add, remove, re-add, update, disable, and then re-enable Gentoo overlays from a variety of sources.


layman makes it easy to retrieve and update overlays for Gentoo. In addition it makes it TRIVIAL to break your system.
The Gentoo main tree provides you with high quality ebuilds that are all maintained by Gentoo developers. This will not be the case for most of the overlays you can get by using layman. Thus you are removing the security shield that the standard tree provides for you. You should keep that in mind when installing ebuilds from an overlay.
To ensure the security of your system you MUST read the source of the ebuild you are about to install.



List of possible layman actions.
Add the given overlay from the cached remote list to your locally installed overlays. Specify "ALL" to add all overlays from the remote list.
-d OVERLAY, --delete=OVERLAY
Remove the given overlay from your locally installed overlays. Specify "ALL" to remove all overlays.
Disable the given overlay from portage. Specify "ALL" to disable all installed overlays.
Re-enable a previously disabled overlay. Specify "ALL" to enable all installed overlays.
-f, --fetch
Fetches the remote list of overlays. You will usually NOT need to explicitly specify this option. The fetch operation will be performed automatically once you run the sync, sync-all, or list action. You can prevent this automatic fetching using the --nofetch option.
Display all available information about the specified overlay.
-L, --list
List the contents of the remote list.
-l, --list-local
List the locally installed overlays.
-n, --nofetch
Prevents layman from automatically fetching the remote lists of overlays. The default behavior for layman is to update all remote lists if you run the sync, list or fetch operation.
-p LEVEL, --priority=LEVEL
Use this option in combination with the --add.
•make.conf:: It will modify the priority of the added overlay and thus influence the order of entries in the make.conf file. The lower the priority, the earlier in the list the entry will be mentioned in the make.conf.
•repos.conf:: It will modify the priority in the repos.conf file, and thus influence the portage overlay priority. Read man portage for more details on overlay priority. Use a value between 0 and 100. The default value is 50.
Remove and re-add the given overlay from the cached remote list to your locally installed overlays. Specify "ALL" to re-add all local overlays.
Update the specified overlay. Use "ALL" as parameter to synchronize all overlays.
-S, --sync-all
Update all overlays. Shortcut for -s ALL.


List of available layman path options.
-c PATH, --config=PATH
Path to an alternative configuration file.
-C PATH, --configdir=PATH
Directory path for all layman configuration information.
-o URL, --overlays=URL
Specifies the location of additional overlay lists. You can use this flag several times and the specified URLs will get temporarily appended to the list of URLs you specified in your config file. You may also specify local file URLs by prepending the path with file://. This option will only append the URL for this specific layman run - edit your config file to add a URL permanently. So this is useful for testing purposes.
-O PATH, --overlay_defs PATH
Path to additional overlay.xml files.


List of layman output options.
--debug-level DEBUG_LEVEL
Outputs layman debugging information. The lower the debug level, the less debugging information you’ll get. Use a value between 0 and 10. 0 means no debugging information, 10 selects all debugging messages. The default debug level is 4.
-k, --nocheck
•When listing remote overlays (using -L or --list) layman no longer hides overlays, for which you lack the tools to use. By default, layman hides Git repositories if you do not have Git installed. Same applies to Subversion, CVS and so forth.
•Prevents layman from checking the remote lists of overlays for complete overlay definitions. The default behavior for layman is to reject overlays that do not provide a description or a contact attribute.
-N, --nocolor
Remove color codes from the layman output.
-q, --quiet
Makes layman completely quiet. In quiet mode child processes will be run with stdin closed to avoid running into infinite and blindly interactive sessions. Thus a child process may abort once it runs into an situation with need for human interaction. For example this might happen if your overlay resides in Subversion and the SSL certificate of the server needs manual acceptance.
-Q LEVEL, --quietness=LEVEL
Makes layman less verbose. Choose a value between 0 and 4 with 0 being completely quiet. Once you set this below 3, the same warning as given for --quiet applies.
-v, --verbose
Makes layman more verbose and you will receive a description of the overlays you can download.
-W WIDTH, --width WIDTH
Sets the screen width. This setting is usually not required as layman is capable of detecting the available number of columns automatically.


layman reads configuration parameters from the file /etc/layman/layman.cfg by default. This file provides seven possible settings.
Directory that will be used to store the overlays and all additional data layman needs. The default is /var/lib/layman. layman uses a location within the /usr/portage hierarchy instead of /var in order to store its data. This decision has been made to support network file systems. If you have your Gentoo tree on NFS or a similar file system and several machines access the same ebuild repository over the net it will be necessary to also provide all necessary layman data within the hierarchy of the tree. This way the overlays will also have to be synced at one location only.
layman will store the downloaded global list of overlays here. The default is %(storage)s/cache.xml.
layman will store the list of installed overlays here. The default is %(storage)s/installed.xml.
This is the portage configuration file that layman will modify in order to make the new overlays available within portage. The default is %(storage)s/make.conf. You could also specify /etc/portage/make.conf directly. But that would mean that you have an external program trying to automatically set variables within this very central configuration file. Since I consider that dangerous I prefer having a very small external file that only contains the setting for PORTDIR_OVERLAY. This file is then sourced at the end of /etc/portage/make.conf. This is the reason why layman suggests running the following after it has been installed.

echo 'source /var/lib/layman/make.conf' >> /etc/portage/make.conf
Specifies the URL for the remote list of all available overlays. The default is You can specify several URLs here (one per line). The contents will get merged to a single list of overlays. This allows to add a personal collection of overlays that are not present in the global list.
Specify your proxy in case you have to use one.
Set to "yes" if layman should stop worrying about overlays with missing a contact address or the description.
Set to "yes" if layman will delete archive files downloaded when installing archive type overlays. This option is only applicable to remote archive overlays. layman will leave the reponsibility of deleting local archive files up to the user. By default, layman will delete downloaded archive files.
Set to "no" if you don’t want layman to prompt you for consent during the installation of an unofficial overlay.
Per repository type Add, Sync options.
bzr_addopts, bzr_syncopts, cvs_addopts, cvs_syncopts, ...
These are a space separated list of command options to include in the commands sent to perform the desired action.
Per repository type Post Add, Sync hooks.
bzr_postsync, cvs_postsync, darcs_postsync, git_postsync, ...
These are a space separated list of commands that are run after each add, sync operation if they are defined.

*NEW*Repo Configuration options

layman now accepts multiple repository config file options. One being the already standard make.conf option and the other being the repos.conf files that can be placed in /etc/portage/repos.conf/. The below configuration options allow you to alter particular things regarding the repository configuration::
•conf_type:: Specifies the repo configuration type you wish to use. This can be repos.conf, make.conf, or both separated by a comma. The default value is repos.conf.
•require_repoconfig:: Defines whether a configuration file is needed for the package manager or other multi-repository consumer application.
•repos_conf:: Specifies the path to the config file for all repos.conf configuration. The default location is /etc/portage/repos.conf/layman.conf.
•auto_sync:: "yes" or "no" value that defines whether or not you want your layman overlays automatically synced by the portage sync plug-in (requires repos.conf support).


layman intends to provide easy maintenance of Gentoo overlays while not requiring any configuration.


layman allows you to fetch an overlay without the need to modify any configuration files. In order for this to be possible the script needs an external list of possible overlay sources. There is a centralized list available at but nothing will prevent you from using or publishing your own list of overlays. The location of the remote lists can also be modified using the --overlays option when running layman.
To get a new overlay added to the central list provided for layman, send a mail to <>. Gentoo developers may add their overlay entries directly into the list which can be accessed over the CVS repository for the Gentoo website.
You can also use several lists at the same time. Just add one URL per line to the overlays variable in your configuration file. layman will merge the contents of all lists.
layman also allows you to define local files in this list. Just make sure you prepend these path names in standard URL notation with file://. layman also gives you the ability to just add an overlay definition to /etc/layman/overlays/some-overlay.xml and it will be automatically available for actions such as add, delete, info... (see below for file format details)
If you need to use a proxy for access to the Internet, you can use the corresponding variable in the layman configuration file. layman will also respect the http_proxy environment variable in case you set it.


layman stores a local copy of the fetched remote list. It will be stored in /var/lib/layman/cache.xml by default. There exists only one such cache file and it will be overwritten every time you run layman.


Since layman is designed to automatically handle the inclusion of overlays into your system it needs to be able to modify the PORTDIR_OVERLAY variable in your /etc/portage/make.conf file. But /etc/portage/make.conf is a very central and essential configuration file for a Gentoo system. Automatically modifying this file would be somewhat dangerous. You can allow layman to do this by setting the make_conf variable in the configuration file to /etc/portage/make.conf.
A much safer and in fact recommended solution to the problem is to let layman handle an external file that only contains the PORTDIR_OVERLAY variable and is sourced within the standard /etc/portage/make.conf file. Just add the following line to the end of your /etc/portage/make.conf file:

source /var/lib/layman/make.conf
/var/lib/layman/make.conf is the default provided in the layman configuration. Change this file name in case you decide to store it somewhere else.
The file does not necessarily need to exist at the beginning. If it is missing, layman will create it for you.
There is also no need to remove the original PORTDIR_OVERLAY variable from the make.conf file. Layman will simply add new overlays to this variable and all your old entries will remain in there.


Once a remote list of overlays has been fetched, layman allows to add overlays from the remote list to your system. The script will try to fetch the overlay. If this is successful the overlay information will be copied from the cache to the list of locally installed overlays. In addition layman will modify the PORTDIR_OVERLAY variable to include the new overlay path.
Removing the overlay with layman will delete the overlay without leaving any traces behind.
In order to update all overlays managed by layman you can run the script with the --sync ALL option or the --sync-all flag.


portage will find installed overlays via your repo config files, whether it be make.conf or repos.conf. If you wish to hide the overlay from portage so that the ebuilds will not be accessible then you can do so with the --disable OVERLAY option. This will then disable the overlay in your repo configurations.
To re-enable them again so that portage can again access the ebuilds of that overlay you can simply do so with the --enable OVERLAY option.


layman provides the -L, --list and -l, --list-local options to print a list of available respectively installed overlays.
Listing will prepend all fully supported overlays with a green asterisk, all non-official overlays with a yellow asterisk and all overlays that you will not be able to use since you do not have the necessary tools installed with a red asterisk.
In the default mode layman will be strict about listing overlays and only present you with overlays that are fully supported. In addition it will complain about overlays that are missing a description field or a contact attribute. This type of behavior has been added with layman 1.0.7 and if you’d like to return to the old behavior you may use the k option flag or set the nocheck option in the configuration file.


You can search through the ebuilds available in the overlays on by using eix. Emerge the package and run:

update-eix-remote update
Alternatively, you can browse overlays that you have not installed on


Currently layman supports overlays that are exported via rsync, CVS, subversion, bzr, darcs, git, mercurial, tar packages, or squashfs images that will be mounted read-only. It also supports the generated overlay type g-sorcery installed with the g-cran package (at time of this writing, only available in the science overlay).



Layman uses a central list of overlays in XML format. The file looks like this:
Example 1. An example overlays.xml file

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE repositories SYSTEM "/dtd/repositories.dtd">
<repositories xmlns="" version="1.0">
<repo quality="experimental" status="official">
<description>experimental gnome ebuilds</description>
<owner type="project">
<name>GNOME herd</name>
<source type="git">git://</source>
<source type="git"></source>
<source type="git">git+ssh://</source>
Example 2. An example overlays.xml file with a branch

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE repositories SYSTEM "/dtd/repositories.dtd">
<repositories xmlns="" version="1.0">
<repo quality="experimental" status="official">
<description><Development Overlay for Hardened Gcc 4.x Toolchain></description>
<owner type="project">
<source type="git" branch="uclibc">git://</source>
Users can specify a branch for an overlay, given one actually exists. This logic is applicable to CVS overlays as well and the branch variable is comparable to specifying a subpath for a CVS repository.
VCS types where the use of "branch" is supported is as follows
•Mercurial However, for CVS, Squashfs, and Tar overlays, the branch will be treated as a subpath. If you use the branch variable with any other overlay types aside from the ones listed, it will be ignored.


Simply create an overlay list in the format described above and run layman with the -o switch. You need to prepend local file URLs with file://. New is the ability to just add an overlay definition like the above to /etc/layman/overlays/some-overlay.xml and it will be automatically available for actions such as add, delete, info...


The global list of overlays used by layman lies at
All Gentoo developers have access to this location via CVS and can modify the list of overlays.
If you are not a Gentoo developer but wish to get your overlay listed you should contact the Gentoo Overlays team at <>. You can also join #gentoo-overlays on



layman -f -a wrobel
This would add the overlay with the id wrobel to your list of installed overlays.


layman -s ALL
This updates all overlays


layman -f -a wrobel webapps-experimental
This fetches the remote list and immediately adds two overlays


Configuration file, holding the defaults for layman
Configuration file that layman modifies to register the installed overlay(s) with the package manager
Configuration file that layman modifies to register the installed overlay(s) with the package manager


•Gunnar Wrobel <> (original, retired)
•Sebastian Pipping <>
•Brian Dolbec <>
•Devan Franchini <>


Please report bugs you might find at Thank you!


make.conf(5), eix(1), portage(5)


Brian Dolbec <>
02/08/2015 layman 2.3.0