ABS FAQ

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What is the ABS?

"ABS" stands for Arch Build System. It is a convenient way to create and install Arch Linux packages.

What do people mean when they say "Use ABS"?

They mean, "Make and install an Arch Linux package using the provided Arch Linux tools". If you want to learn how to do this yourself, then keep reading. It's easy!

How do the Arch Linux developers create all of those binary packages that I install using pacman?

Arch Linux packages are created by first writing a PKGBUILD file. A PKGBUILD file is a Bash script that contains:

  • The name of the package, the version number, and lots of other information.
  • Instructions for downloading, compiling, and installing the software package.

The newly written PKGBUILD file is then used by the makepkg program which uses the instructions contained within it to create a pacman-installable, binary package with the extenstion '.pkg.tar.xz'.

Can I get a copy of the PKGBUILD files that the Arch Linux developers use?

Sure! Install the program abs:

# pacman -S abs

And then run it as root:

# abs

You now have every official Arch Linux PKGBUILD file in /var/abs.

What do I do to make a package?

First, make sure you have all of the development tools installed:

# pacman -S base-devel

Now, all you need is a PKGBUILD file. I recommend that you make packages in a new directory. Let's say you want to make your own package for vi, just like the one you can install using pacman. Copy the PKGBUILD from /var/abs to a new directory:

$ cp -r /var/abs/core/vi ~/vi

Go to your new directory, and edit the PKGBUILD to your desired specifications with your text editor of choice.

Use the makepkg command to make a package:

$ makepkg

That's it! You now have a .pkg.tar.xz package for vi.

What are all of those other files under /var/abs?

Sometimes a PKGBUILD uses patches, or includes default settings files and examples.

How do I install the package I just made?

Use pacman:

# pacman -U yourpackagename.pkg.tar.xz

The actual name of the file depends on the name of the package, the version number, and what processor architecture you are using.

How do I make my own PKGBUILD file?

You can copy an example PKGBUILD file from /usr/share/pacman or /var/abs and modify it. You can read more about PKGBUILD files here.

Can somebody make a PKGBUILD file for me for a piece of software I want to use?

There is a good chance someone already did! Look in the "AUR", or Arch User Repository. You will find PKGBUILD files that other Arch Linux users made. You can also submit PKGBUILD files that you make yourself.