Dealing with repositories on the command line

Quite a number of the ceylon sub commands deal with module repositories, and all of them support at least a basic set of options to change the default behavior for dealing with them.

But let's first start by detailing what exactly is the default behavior.

Default repository lookup

Almost all tools that deal with repositories will either have to look up specific modules or they need to search for modules using certain search criteria. If, for example, you typed ceylon run my.module/1.2.3, the system would go look for a module named "my.module" with version "1.2.3" and see if there's a artifact containing compiled code for the Java Virtual Machine.

Now, by default, Ceylon goes looking in a fixed list of repositories in the exact order as shown below, choosing the first module that matches:

  • SYSTEM — the distribution repository, which is located wherever Ceylon is installed, at $CEYLON_HOME/repo. It contains the modules required by Ceylon itself and all its tools.
  • CACHE — the cache repository which, by default, is located in $HOME/.ceylon/cache, and contains every module that was at some point downloaded from a remote server.
  • LOCAL — the local repository refers to a repository found in the current directory where the tool is executed. By default this will be a directory named modules.
  • USER — the user repository, normally located in $HOME/.ceylon/repo, holds the modules that are available to the user anywhere on their system regardless of the current folder in which the Ceylon tool is executed.
  • REMOTE — the Herd, the official remote Ceylon repository, containing all the Ceylon platform modules, along with many other freely available third party modules. By default this is
  • MAVEN — the Maven repository, where Maven artifacts are obtained. The actual Maven module repositories searched by Aether depend upon the user's .m2/settings.xml file.

If the module you need is available in any of the above repositories, you won't have to do a thing to run it, copy it, query it or whatever else you want. All the tools that deal with repositories will be able to find it by default.

But what if your module is stored somewhere else?

Specifying repositories

To specify that you want to add another repository that isn't in the above list, you must use the --rep command line argument, for example:

--rep /path/to/my/repository

Of course you can refer to remote servers as well:


You can even specify Maven repositories, indirectly, by pointing to a Maven settings.xml file:

--rep maven:/path/to/special/settings.xml

It's perfectly acceptable to specify as many --rep arguments as you need.

Note: You should aware of the fact that specifying any --rep argument on the command line overrides all of the predefined local repositories. In the case of the list above this means that the modules repository will be overridden in favor of the repository or repositories provided by the --rep argument or arguments.

Certain tools need an destination repository in which to create or copy modules. These tools support the argument --out to specify a destination repository, like this:

--out /my/output/repo

Finally, there are two other, more specialized, arguments for specifying repositories:

  • --cacherep can be used to change the location where downloaded modules will be stored and cached, and
  • --sysrep can be used to change the location where the system modules needed by Ceylon itself are obtained. You should never need to use this.

But what if you want to specify your repositories to the exclusion of everything else? What if you want to make sure that none of the predefined repositories are searched? For that you can use the argument --no-default-repositories.

For example, with these options:

--no-default-repositories --rep /the/one/and/only

the tools will only look in the path explicitly specified by the --rep argument.

Note: This is not entirely true. In fact, the tools always require the SYSTEM and CACHE repositories. We can't do anything about SYSTEM, Ceylon needs it to function correctly, but if you really want to get rid of even the CACHE, you can specify --offline along with --no-default-repositories.

Repository aliases

In the list above where all the repositories were introduced each of them was given a name. This name is the repository's "alias" as defined by Ceylon's configuration. We'll get back to that but it's important to explain what those aliases are for: you can use an alias everywhere you can use a path or url to a repository by using a plus sign (+) followed by the alias. So an argument like this:

--out +USER

would mean that we want any modules to be written to the "USER" repository (which, by default, points to $HOME/.ceylon/repo, as mentioned above).

So far, we've only seen and talked about the predefined aliases like USER, LOCAL, and SYSTEM, but it's entirely possible to create your own aliases in the configuration file. You can read in detail how to do so here.

See also