Create Your Own PBI Repository/9.2

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By default, AppCafe® displays the PBIs which are available from the official PC-BSD® repository. It also supports custom repositories, allowing organizations to create PBIs for their own applications and to make them available to their users within AppCafe®.

In order to create a custom repository, you need to:

  • create the OpenSSL key which will be used to sign custom PBIs
  • generate a repository file and populate it with custom PBIs
  • generate the meta-data for the PBIs which are available within the repository

This section describes these steps in more detail.


Generate the Signing Key

Running a repository requires that all the PBIs in the custom repository be digitally signed for security and identification purposes. In order to sign the PBIs, generate an OpenSSL key pair using the following commands:

openssl genra -out privkey.pem 4096
Generating RSA private key, 4096 bit long modulus
e is 65537 (0x10001)
openssl rsa -in privkey.pem -pubout > pub.key
writing RSA key

These commands will create the files privkey.pem and pub.key. The privkey.pem file will be used to digitally sign your created PBI files and the pub.key file will be included with the repository configuration (.rpo) file.

Create the Repository

In order to create the repository you will need a FTP, HTTP, or HTTPS server to host your repository’s meta-data files and to store the repository's PBIs. The server can be a public URL on the Internet or a private LAN server, as long as it is accessible to your target audience.

Once you have the URL to the server, create the repository's .rpo file using the pbi_makerepo command. Replace the values in the following example with your own description, path to your generated pub.key file, the URL to the location where the PBIs will be hosted, the URL to the location to contain the repository's meta-data files, and the directory to place the created .rpo file.

pbi_makerepo --desc “My Example Repository”  --key pub.key --mirror “” --url “” /root

This command will generate the pbi-repo.rpo file in the specified directory on the server. This file is needed for clients to register and begin using the new repository. Clients also need to install this file on their PC-BSD® desktop using this command as the superuser:

pbi_addrepo pbi-repo.rpo

Once the repository is registered on the clients system, their pbi daemon will automatically keep track of downloading and updating both meta-files and PBIs from the URLs you specified in the repository configuration file.

Generate the Repository's Meta-Data

On a PC-BSD® system, you can now create the meta-data and PBI files so that clients have something to download. The meta-data file is used to give the client information about the PBIs available from the repository, such as categories, application names, and descriptions. When creating categories, you can use the same category names that appear in AppCafe®, or you can create your own categories. Each category and each PBI will need its own icon. These icons need to already exist on the server before generating the meta-data file.

When you are ready, create an empty meta-data file in the format pbi-meta-<Major Version Number>. This command should be used for 9.x series PBIs:

touch pbi-meta-9

Then use the pbi_metatool command to add the category for a PBI. The following command adds the Archivers category, its description, and the URL pointing to the mandatory 64x64 .png icon file to the specified meta-data file.

pbi_metatool add --cat -n “Archivers” -d “File Archivers and Utilities” -i “” pbi-meta-9

Next, add the following information about the PBI: the name of the application, the category, the application author, a description of the application, the URL pointing to the mandatory 64x64 .png icon file for the application, a comma delimited list (with no spaces) of search keywords, the type of license, the type of application (Graphical, Text, or Service), the URL to the application's website, and the name of the meta-data file to add the information to.

pbi_metatool add --app -n “cabextract” -c “Archivers” -a “Stuart Caie” -d “Utility for reading and extracting .cab files.” -i '''' -k “cab,archive,extract” -l “LGPL” -t “Text” -u “” pbi-meta-9

Repeat this command for each PBI that will be available in the repository, creating new categories as you need to do so.

When you are finished adding the information for the repository's PBIs, compress the file with bzip2 and upload it to the server. The location in our example would be Once the file is uploaded, clients can use the pbi_browser command or AppCafe® to browse the repository's PBIs.

You should now create your custom PBIs then upload them to their specified category in the download directory on the server. In our example, the download directory is Refer to the section on creating PBIs for instructions on creating PBIs using either the EasyPBI graphical utility or the pbi_makeport command line utility.

When creating your PBIs, remember to sign them with the private key. If you are using EasyPBI, specify the location to the privkey.pem file by clicking the Change File button shown in Figure 8.1d. If you are using the pbi_makeport command, include --sign privkey.pem in the command.

Lastly, create the pbi-index-9 file and add the names of the uploaded PBIs to the file. Use the pbi_indextool to add each entry, specifying that PBI's filename (will end in .pbi), the download location (in the format category/pbi_name), and the name of the index file.

touch pbi-index-9
pbi_indextool -f cabextract-1.2-amd64.pbi -u “archivers/cabextract-1.2-amd64.pbi” pbi-index-9

When you are finished adding entries to this file, use bzip2 to compress it and upload the pbi-index-9.bz2 to the same location on the server which contains the pbi-meta-9.bz2 file. Clients can now download and install PBIs from your custom repository, using the pbi_add command or AppCafe®.

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