GNOME package guidelines

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Arch package guidelines

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The GNOME packages on Arch Linux follow a certain schema.

Source URL

This topic contains the most commonly used source URL used by GNOME packages in both official repositories and AUR. For examples, search for GNOME packages in the official repositories[1] and in the AUR[2]

Using released tarball

When downloading a released tarball, you can get it from using the following source array:


where ${pkgver%.*} returns the major.minor package version, by removing the suffix of pkgver (which is the micro package version). E.g., if pkgver=3.28.0 then ${pkgver%.*} would return 3.28.

Using a commit from Git repository

Another common practice is to use as source a specific commit from a GNOME software's source code git repository. It doesn't classify as VCS package because Pacman's feature of setting specific commit[3] makes PKGBUILD not follow latest development commits neither update the pkgver field, using the source from the specified commit hash instead.

See a template below:


pkgver() {
  cd $pkgname
  git describe --tags | sed 's/-/+/g'

Replace hash_of_a_commit with the Git commit hash desired.

Please notice that since the source is downloaded with git, then git must be in makedepends and checksums must be set to 'SKIP', just like it would happen with any other VCS package. Using pkgver() function is highly recommended, so it sets pkgver accordingly for the commit hash provided.

Note: GNOME previously used, but then migrated to[4]. Old links should automatically redirect to the new domain, but it might be wise to manually update your source URL.

Building with meson

Many GNOME software migrated the build system to Meson, consequently dropping GNU Autotools support. That means you will not be using ./configure and make in this case.

In order to build using Meson, add the meson package to makedepends and call its command meson, optionally including any desired options supported by the target software. The ninja package will also be used in this build system but it is a dependency of meson, so you do not need to include it in the makedepends array.)

The build(), check(), and package() functions should look something like:


build() {
  meson --prefix /usr --buildtype=plain source build
  ninja -C build

check() {
  ninja -C build check

package() {
  DESTDIR="$pkgdir" ninja -C build install


  • source is the directory containing the extracted source code, e.g. $pkgname or $pkgname-$pkgver; and
  • build is the directory that will hold the binary files to be installed. Normally the dirname "build" is used so you may want to keep it for standardization, but you may rename it to whatever pleases you.
  • Some software do not support invoking meson from outside the source code's root directory. If that is your case, adapt the above code block by simply adding cd source to the start of the three functions above, and also changing the above meson command-line to meson . build.
  • If the software have no testing rules set (case which the above code block would fail to build the package), remove/comment the whole check() function.
Tip: In order to toggle a build option in meson, append -D option=value flags to the meson command-line, where option is a supported option for the target software you are building, and value is a valid value for the option given. So, for instance, if the software has a gtk_doc option as false by default and you want to enable it, append -D gtk_doc=true to the meson command-line. Read and meson_options.txt files in the source code's root directory to find the available options.

GConf schemas

Some GNOME packages install GConf schemas, even though many others already migrated to GSettings. Those packages should depend on gconfAUR.

Gconf schemas get installed in the system GConf database, which has to be avoided. Some packages provide a --disable-schemas-install switch for ./configure, which hardly ever works. However, gconftool-2 has a variable called GCONF_DISABLE_MAKEFILE_SCHEMA_INSTALL which you can set to tell gconftool-2 to not update any databases.

When creating packages that install GConf schema files, use


for the package installation step in the PKGBUILD.

Do not call gconfpkg in the .install file, as GConf schemas are automatically installed/removed (while installing/removing the GNOME package) via pacman hooks since gconfAUR=3.2.6-4

GSettings schemas

The GConf schemas were migrated to GSettings schemas, so many GNOME applications can be found using this new schema file. GSettings uses dconf as backend, so all packages that contain GSettings schemas require dconf as dependency. When a new GSettings schema installed on the system, the GSettings database has to be recompiled, but not when packaging.

To avoid recompiling GSettings database on packaging, use the --disable-schemas-compile switch for ./configure.

Do not call glib-compile-schemas in the .install file, as GSettings schema databases are automatically recompiled via pacman hooks since glib2=2.48.0-2.

Scrollkeeper documentation

Starting from GNOME 2.20 there is no need to handle scrollkeeper anymore, as rarianAUR reads its OMF files directly. Scrollkeeper-update is a dummy these days. The only required thing now is to makedepend on gnome-doc-utilsAUR>=0.11.2.

It can be disabled using --disable-scrollkeeper switch from ./configure.

GTK icon cache

Quite some packages install icons in the hicolor icon theme.

Do not call gtk-update-icon-cache in the .install file, as the icon cache is updated via pacman hooks since gtk-update-icon-cache=3.20.3-2. These packages should not depend on gtk-update-icon-cache, as any application which makes use of gtk icon caches will install the package with the hook and do a full, retroactive cache update.

.desktop files

Many packages install compatible .desktop files and register MimeType entries in them.

Do not call update-desktop-database in the .install file, as the database is automatically updated via pacman hooks since desktop-file-utils=0.22-2. They should not depend on desktop-file-utils, as any desktop which makes use of desktop files will install the package with the hook and do a full, retroactive database update.

.install files

Previously, most of the GNOME packages had a .install file calling commands like glib-compile-schemas, gtk-update-icon-cache, and update-desktop-database in order to install/update local cache or databases. This is deprecated since pacman 5.0 implemented hooks which call those commands automatically when installing the package.

To avoid being called twice, the above mentioned commands should be removed from .install file.