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What is the ABS?

"ABS" stands for Arch Build System. It's the way you create and install Arch Linux packages from source.

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

They mean, "Make and install an Arch Linux package from source, using the provided Arch 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.gz'.

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

Sure! Install the program Template:Filename:

# pacman -S abs

And then run it as root:

# abs

You now have every official Arch Linux PKGBUILD file in Template:Filename.

What do I do to make a package?

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 Template:Filename to a new directory:

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

Now go to your new directory:

$ cd ~/vi

Make sure you have all of the development tools installed:

# pacman -S base-devel

Edit the PKGBUILD to your desired specifications with your editor of choice.


Use the makepkg command to make a package:

$ makepkg

That's it! You now have a Template:Filename package for vi.

What are all of those other files under Template:Filename?

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.gz

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 just copy one from Template:Filename 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's a good chance someone already did! Look in the "AUR", or Arch User Repository. ([1]). You will find PKGBUILD files that other Arch Linux users made. You can also submit PKGBUILD files that you make yourself.

Isn't there an easier way to install packages from the AUR?

Yes, you can use an AUR helper program. They are used to make it easy to find and install packages from the AUR. There are many different AUR helpers. For example, packer is similar to pacman in functionality and is pretty easy to use.