Difference between revisions of "AUR User Guidelines"

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Revision as of 02:50, 5 December 2008

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The ArchLinux User-community Repository (AUR) is a community driven repository for Arch users. It contains package descriptions that allow you to compile a package from source and then install it via Pacman. This document shows the normal user how to access AUR and work with it.

How to use the AUR

Installing Packages from the AUR

To install a package found in AUR (aka the UNSUPPORTED repository) follow the steps listed below:

Included in these steps is an example installation of a package called "foo".

  • First make sure that the necessary tools are installed. The metapackage "base-devel" should be sufficient, as it includes makepkg and the tools needed for compiling from source.
pacman -Sy base-devel 
  • Next choose an appropriate build directory. A build directory is simply a directory where the package will be made or "built" and can be any directory. Examples of commonly used directories are:

or if using ABS (Arch Build System):
For more information on ABS go to the ABS page. The example will use ~/builds as the build directory.
  • locate the package in the AUR. This is done using the search feature, to navigate to this feature from the AUR home page click on the "packages" link in the top right menu. Clicking the application's name in the search list brings up an information page on the package. Read through the description to make sure this is the desired package, it is also good to check when the package was last updated and read any comments.
  • Download the necessary build files. From the package's information page download the build files by clicking the link "Tarball" on the left hand side near the end of the page. This file should be saved to a build directory, but could be copied to the directory after downloading. In the example the file download should be called "foo.tar.gz" if it has been properly submitted.
  • Extract the tarball. Change directories to the build directory if not already done and extract the build files.
cd ~/builds
tar -xvzf foo.tar.gz

This should create a new directory called "foo" in the build directory.

  • IMPORTANT Carefully check all files. Change directories to the newly created directory and carefully check the PKGBUILD and any .install file for malicious commands. If in any doubt DO NOT build the package and seek advice on the forums or mailing list.
cd foo
<favourite text editor> PKGBUILD 	# Carefully check
# Carefully check any other files like .install
  • Make the package. After manually confirming the integrity of the files run makepkg as a normal user in the build directory.
makepkg -s

This will use sudo to install any dependencies, if the use of sudo is undesirable use fakeroot (see below) and don't include the "-s" in the makepkg command.

  • Install the package using pacman. A tarball should have been created that is named:
<applications name>-<version number>-<architecture>.pkg.tar.gz.

this package can be installed using the upgrade command of pacman.

pacman -U foo-0.1-i686.pkg.tar.gz    

Please Note: the above is a brief summary of the package building process. A visit to the ABS page will provide full details, and is highly recommended, particularly for first-time packagers.

Using fakeroot

fakeroot simply allows a normal user the necessary root permissions to create pkgs in the build environment without being able to alter the wider system. If the build process attempts to alter files outside of the build environment then errors are produced and the build fails - this is very useful for checking the quality/safety/integrity of PKGBUILDs for distribution. By default export USE_FAKEROOT="y" is included in /etc/makepkg.conf, so unless you have switched it off it is already enabled.

Submitting Packages to UNSUPPORTED

After logging in to the AUR web interface, a user can submit a gzipped tarball (tar.gz) of a directory containing build files for a package. The directory inside the tarball should contain a PKGBUILD, any .install files, patches, etc (ABSOLUTELY no binaries). Examples of what such a directory should look like can be seen inside /var/abs.

Note that this is a gzipped tarball - ie. assuming you're uploading a package called 'libfoo', when you create the file it should look similar to this (note the -zcvvf option to tar):

   $ ls -a libfoo
   . .. PKGBUILD libfoo.install
   $ tar -zcvvf libfoo.tar.gz libfoo
   a libfoo
   a libfoo/PKGBUILD
   a libfoo/libfoo.install

When submitting a package, observe the following rules:

  • Check [core], [extra], [unstable], and [community] for the package. If it is inside any of those repositories in ANY form, DO NOT submit the package (if the current package is broken or is lacking an included feature then please file a bug report in FlySpray).
  • Check UNSUPPORTED for the package. If it is currently maintained, changes can be submitted in a comment for the maintainer's attention. If it is unmaintained, the package can be adopted and updated as required.
  • Verify carefully that what you are uploading is correct. All contributors must read and adhere to the Arch Packaging Standards when writing PKGBUILDs. This is essential to the smooth running and general success of the AUR. Remember you are not going to earn any credit or respect from your peers by wasting their time with a bad PKGBUILD.
  • Packages that contain binaries or that are very poorly written may be deleted without warning.
  • If you are unsure about the package (or the build/submission process) in any way, submit the PKGBUILD to the AUR Mailing List or the AUR boards on the forum for public review before adding it to the AUR.
  • Make sure the package is useful. Will anyone else want to use this package? Is it extremely specialized? If more than a few people would find this package useful, it is appropriate for submission.
  • Gain some experience before submitting packages. Build a few packages to learn the process and then submit.
  • If you submit a package.tar.gz with a file named 'package' in it you'll get a an error: 'Could not change to directory /home/aur/unsupported/package/package'. To resolve this rename the file named 'package' to something else, for example, 'package.rc'. When it is installed in the pkg directory you may rename it back to 'package'.

Maintaining Packages in UNSUPPORTED

  • Check for feedback and comments from other users and try to incorporate any improvements they suggest; consider it a learning process!
  • Please DO NOT just submit and forget about packages! While in UNSUPPORTED, it is the user's job to maintain the package by checking for updates and improving the PKGBUILD.
  • If you do not want to continue to maintain the package for some reason, disown the pkg using the AUR web interface and/or post a message to the AUR Mailing List.

The User and the AUR

The normal user plays an essential role in the AUR and without the support, involvement and contribution of the wider user community the AUR cannot fulfill its potential. The lifecycle of an AUR package starts and ends with the user and requires the user to contribute in several ways.


Users can share PKGBUILDs using the UNSUPPORTED area in the AUR. UNSUPPORTED does not contain any binary packages but allows users to upload PKGBUILDs that can be downloaded by others. A comments facility allows users to provide suggestions and feedback on improvements to the PKGBUILD contributor. These PKGBUILDs are completely unofficial and have not been thoroughly vetted, so they should be used at your own risk.

There is as yet no official mechanism for downloading build material from UNSUPPORTED but a few scripts can be found on the wiki.


The [community] repo is a supplement to the [extra] and [core] repositories where the most popular packages from UNSUPPORTED are maintained by the Trusted Users group on behalf of the users. [community], unlike UNSUPPORTED, contains binary packages that can be installed directly with pacman and the build files can also be accessed with ABS. Some of these packages may eventually make the transition to the [core] or [extra] repositories as the developers consider them crucial to the distribution.

Users can access the AUR [community] repo by adding/uncommenting this line in their pacman.conf file (enabled by default):

Include = /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

If /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist does not exist then it should be created and contain the following:

Server = ftp://ftp.archlinux.org/community/os/i686/

Users can also access the [community] build files by editing /etc/abs.conf and removing the exclamation mark from in front of the community repo (disabled by default), as follows:

REPOS=(core extra community !unstable !testing)


One of the easiest activities for all Arch users is to browse the AUR and vote for their favorite packages using the online interface. All packages are eligible for adoption by a TU for inclusion in [community], and the vote count is one of the considerations in that process - so it is in everyone's interest to vote!

Install an AUR Helper

AUR Helpers add seamless access to the AUR. They vary in their features, but can ease in searching, fetching, building, and installing from over 9000 PKGBUILDs found in AUR.

All of these scripts can be found in UNSUPPORTED.