Optimizing Gentoo: Mailing Portage Messages


Portage is an amazingly simple and complex piece of technology. The simplicity in each piece's ability to do a specific function comes together in a complex package management system that rivals all others. Automating updates is something that admins everywhere do out of necessity. In fact, automating everything is what an admin does. Automating portage's updates is a bit more harrowing than other package management systems but isn't impossible.


Automating package updates with portage is simple: add a cron job that calls the appropriate items, but being notified of available updates or the helpful messages that are part of the updates requires a little tweaking to the portage configuration itself.


Turning up the verbosity of portage in the cron job doesn't quite do the job we expect. Sure, it adds the messages to the e-mail cron generates but it also adds plenty more for us to look through.

This also doesn't help when utilities like Puppet update packages.

Configuring portage to e-mail the messages only is quite simple and solves this issue much more satisfactorily.

The make.conf man page lets us know about the following parameters that affect how output is logged:


These parameters allow us to log various output from portage runs to a large number of destinations. If we simply want to mail output (not the full build output) we add the following directives to make.conf:


This block leaves the normal configuration, save, but adds the mail facility.


Automating maintenance tasks and making administration more event driven frees up time for other more interesting areas of the infrastructure that can continue improving quality while allowing the administrator more time.


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