Third-party packages

CheriBSD on Morello ships with both hybrid ABI and CheriABI packages (compilations) of the FreeBSD ports collection, each targeting a different form of code generation and Application Binary Interface (ABI). They have different levels of completeness, maturity, security, and support.


The following table presents an overview of available package managers in CheriBSD that are described in more details in consecutive sections.

ABI#ManagerInstall pathSuitable forExamples
Hybrid ABI~20,000pkg64/usr/local64Day-to-day usebash
CheriABI~8,000pkg64c/usr/localExperimental usegit

Package managers in CheriBSD

Note: As of this writing we only provide packages for Morello systems. We aim to add CHERI-RISC-V package sets in the near future.

CheriBSD includes two package managers:

  • pkg64 for hybrid ABI packages;
  • pkg64c for CheriABI packages.

The FreeBSD package manager pkg is not available on CheriBSD. We expect that pkg64c will be renamed to pkg in a future CheriBSD release. The intention is that, over time, the CheriABI packages will become more mature, and hence the preferred collection for day-to-day use.

The syntax of the pkg64 and pkg64c commands match the syntax of the pkg command from FreeBSD. You can find information on package manager commands in FreeBSD's pkg manual pages shipped with CheriBSD, e.g. for the commands pkg64 rquery and pkg64c rquery, execute man pkg-rquery.

Additionally, you can learn more about FreeBSD's package manager by reading the pkg(8) manual page online and the FreeBSD Handbook chapter on packages and ports.

Hybrid ABI packages

Hybrid ABI packages are compiled almost identically to packages in the baseline non-CHERI architecture (e.g., Armv8-a for Morello, and 64-bit RISC-V for RISC-V), and do not have improvements in memory protection or software compartmentalization.

These packages are considered appropriate for day-to-day use. They are intended to provide stable versions of tools necessary to develop software and use your CHERI system while more software is ported to CheriABI.

There are currently over 20,000 hybrid ABI packages available, including:

  • Compilers:
    • llvm-morello;

      Includes Clang (a CHERI C/C++ compiler), LLD (a linker), and the LLVM infrastructure for the Arm Morello architecture. Binaries installed with this package have the suffix -morello.

    • llvm;

      Adds links in /usr/local64/bin to allow the llvm-morello package to be used as the default LLVM package, without the suffix -morello, e.g. clang instead of clang-morello.

    • llvm-base.

      Adds links in /usr/bin to allow the llvm package to be used in place of a base-system toolchain. The cc script installed with this package adds compiler flags required to natively compile code for a CHERI-enabled architecture.

  • Debuggers: gdb-cheri;
  • Editors: nano, vim;
  • Shells: bash, dash, fish.

The packages are installed in the /usr/local64 hierarchy. By default /usr/local64/bin and /usr/local64/sbin should be included in your PATH environment variable of a default shell shipped with CheriBSD. If you are planning to use a custom shell, remember to add these paths to PATH.

Note: Because these packages are installed in a non-standard location, there may be bugs related to them looking in /usr/local instead of /usr/local64 for dependencies. Please report bugs of this sort in the CheriBSD ports issue tracker.

CheriABI packages

CheriABI packages are compiled using pure-capability CHERI C/C++, and employ fine-grained C/C++ memory protection.

These packages are considered appropriate for experimental use. Their primary function is to provide necessary dependencies for efforts to port software to CheriABI and to support CHERI demonstration and evaluation. They are suitable for research and development of software that benefit from spatial and temporal memory safety as well as software compartmentalisation. They can also be used to investigate potential memory safety issues in third-party software that are easier to detect and debug using a CHERI-enabled hardware-software stack.

There are currently over 8,000 CheriABI packages available, including:

  • Development utilities: git;
  • Editors: nano;
  • Libraries: libnghttp2, libressl, libssh2, lzlib, wolfssl;
  • Networking tools: rsync;
  • Security tools: sudo;
  • Shells: dash.

The packages are installed in the standard /usr/local hierarchy as they match the base system ABI.

Note: These packages compile, but many have CHERI-related warnings that have not been audited and only a limited set have been tested. Bugs related to CHERI support can be reported in the CheriBSD ports issue tracker. While the CheriABI packages are more interesting as they use CHERI memory-safety features, you must remember that they might break in run-time and hence might not be suitable for critical operations. In such case, a corresponding hybrid ABI package might be considered instead of a CheriABI package.

Cross-ABI package conflicts

Hybrid ABI and CheriABI package repositories include many counterpart packages, e.g. git is available in both repositories. If you decided to use a CheriABI package and find that it crashes, you might consider using a hybrid ABI package instead.

CheriABI packages have a higher priority than the hybrid ABI packages in default PATH environment variables in CheriBSD. In case you installed a CheriABI package and a hybrid ABI package with a conflicting program name, you must execute the hybrid ABI program using an absolute path.

Cross-ABI package dependencies

At the moment, a package cannot depend in run-time on another package with a different ABI, e.g. to execute a program provided by that package. Such feature would be useful if a CheriBSD port cannot easily be adapted to CheriABI and includes a program that is executed by another port that has a CheriABI package. There are currently no plans to support this case.

Missing packages

Hybrid ABI and CheriABI package repositories might be missing third-party software due to the following reasons: