Gracefully Uninstall System Packages

Uninstalling packages from the system image that were previously installed during the installation phase is an operation that can be handy under certain circumstances. As an example, someone could be interested in performing some configuration tasks in the script (see prepare step for further details). That would require to include some extra packages, which are only needed at build time. One example would be compiling some unpacked application sources.

KIWI description file schema defines package requests of type uninstall and type delete:

  • The uninstall requests perform a clean packages removal by removing any package dependent on the requested ones and also removing orphan dependencies.

  • The delete requests perform a hard removal without any dependency check, thus only listed packages are deleted even if it breaks dependencies or compromises any underlying package database.

This page focuses on uninstall package requests.

This is an example of the package requests in a description of a Container image that removes user related tools and development tools:

<packages type="image">
  <package name="ca-certificates"/>
  <package name="ca-certificates-mozilla"/>
  <package name="coreutils"/>
  <package name="iputils"/>
  <package name="openSUSE-build-key"/>
  <package name="krb5"/>
  <package name="netcfg"/>
  <package name="kubic-locale-archive"/>
  <package name="make"/>
  <package name="llvm-clang"/>
  <archive name="foo_app_sources.tar.gz"/>
<!-- These packages will be uninstalled after running -->
<packages type="uninstall">
  <package name="shadow"/>
  <package name="make"/>
  <package name="llvm-clang"/>

In the previous example after installing all the packages and archives, image repositories are configured and then the script is executed. In the foo_app_sources.tar.gz could be compiled using the make and llvm packages with something like a make install call. It is a common practice to build tiny and single purpose container images, thus makes sense to remove unneeded packages, like make and llvm-clang. To gracefully remove them, they have been included into the type=”uninstall” packages list. Those packages will be removed including a dependency cleanup.


An uninstall packages request deletes:

  • the listed packages,

  • the packages dependent on the listed ones, and

  • any orphaned dependecy of the listed packages.

Use this feature with caution as it can easily cause the removal of sensitive tools leading to failures in later build stages.

In the above example also the shadow package is being removed, again, in this specific case, it is not expected to be needed in the final image. The shadow package mainly provides tools to handle user accounts. In a container image, once everything is installed and configured, it is not expected to require any further user account modification to the image, tools such as useradd or usermod will not be required.