GNU Swbis

                sw -- bis
software packaging -- again

Making tarballs more respectable.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Swbis

The swbis project is a from-scratch implementation of the POSIX spec IEEE Std 1387.2-1995 which describes a format and utilities for software packaging. The scope of the POSIX spec includes a package format, meta-data file format, and utilities for package creation, installation, query, listing, and verification.

The swbis implementation has extensions for package authentication using GPG signatures and strong cryptographic digests which are contained in the package catalog as separate ascii text files. GNU Privacy Guard is used directly by swpackage and swverify for signature creation and verification.

Other features of the swbis implementation are: direct use of the ssh client for remote host operations, GNU tar format compatibility, and, no new utility or program requirements for remote installation beyond POSIX compatible GNU utilities that are probably already present on all GNU and GNU/Linux hosts.

The swbis implementation can install RPM packages, via multiple ssh-hops, to remote hosts that have neither swbis nor RPM installed.

The package installer, swinstall, supports checkinstall preinsetall, and postinstall script execution. It uses the tar utiliy for file loading. It creates a de-facto installed software catalog in the file system using directories and text files that stores and preserves the package GPG signature in a form that can be later verified using the 'gpg' utility.

Some of the programs supplied with this package are:


05 August 2006: Swbis 0.499 Released!

The latest version of Swbis, version 0.499, is available.

Changes in this release include:

See the tutorial for details of these new features.

The CVS Repository contains the 0.499 release that has been signed. To get it use:

cvs -z3 export -r release_0_499 swbis
Then use swverify (version 0.499) to verify it. A directory named swbis will have been created:
swverify -d --scm @:swbis

Downloading Swbis

GNU Swbis releases can be found at The latest release is here. There is only one package to download that contains all source and documentation.


The info manual is available online here
In addition, there is a tutorial for using Swbis to create signed distribution tarballs and signed CVS releases.

If you have found a bug in Swbis contact us to the e-mail address Or if you think that hasn't worked use the contact information found here. Return to GNU's home page.

Please send FSF & GNU inquiries & questions to There are also other ways to contact the FSF.

Please send comments on these web pages to, send other questions to

Copyright © 2004 Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111, USA

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.

Updated: $Id: index.html,v 1.12 2006/09/07 00:27:27 jhlowe Exp $