AUR User Guidelines

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Revision as of 01:23, 11 February 2010 by Pointone (talk | contribs) (Prerequisites: correction; makepkg is provided by pacman package; not base-devel)
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The Arch User Repository (AUR) is a community-driven repository for Arch users. It contains package descriptions (PKGBUILDs) that allow you to compile a package from source with makepkg and then install it via pacman. This document explains how users can access and utilize the AUR.

Using the AUR


Avoid pasting patches or PKGBUILDs into the comments section. They quickly become obsolete and just end up needlessly taking up lots of space. Instead email those files to the maintainer, or even use a pastebin like

Searching the AUR

The AUR web interface can be found here.

Queries search package names and descriptions via a MySQL LIKE comparison. This allows for more flexible search criteria (e.g. try searching for 'tool%like%grep' instead of 'tool like grep'). If you need to search for a description that contains '%', escape it with '\%'.

Installing Packages from the AUR

Installing packages from the AUR (aka the [unsupported] repository) is a relatively simple process. Essentially:

  1. Acquire a PKGBUILD and any other required files (e.g. patches)
  2. Run makepkg in the directory where the files are saved
  3. Install the resulting package with pacman

AUR Helpers add seamless access to the AUR. They vary in their features, but can ease in searching, fetching, building, and installing from PKGBUILDs found in AUR. All of these scripts can be found in UNSUPPORTED.

Note: There is not and will never be an official mechanism for downloading build material from UNSUPPORTED. All users should be familiar with the build process.

What follows is a detailed example of installation of a package called "foo".


First ensure that the necessary tools are installed. The package group "base-devel" should be sufficient; it includes make and other tools needed for compiling from source.

Warning: Packages in the AUR assume "base-devel" is installed, and will not list members of this group as dependencies even if the package cannot be built without them. Please ensure this group is installed before complaining about failed builds.
# pacman -S 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 (the Arch Build System):


For more information on ABS read the Arch Build System article. The example will use Template:Filename as the build directory.

Acquire build files

Locate the package in the AUR. This is done using the search feature (text field at the top of the AUR home page). Clicking the application's name in the search list brings up an information page on the package. Read through the description to confirm that this is the desired package, note 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 "Tarball" link on the left-hand side near the end of the package details. This file should be saved to the build directory or otherwise copied to the directory after downloading. In this example, the file is called "foo.tar.gz" (standard format is <pkgname>.tar.gz, if it has been properly submitted).

Build the package

Extract the tarball. Change directories to the build directory if not already there and extract the build files.

$ cd ~/builds
$ tar -xvzf foo.tar.gz

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

Warning: Carefully check all files. Change directories to the newly created directory and carefully check the Template:Filename and any Template:Filename file for malicious commands. If in doubt, do NOT build the package and seek advice on the forums or mailing list.
$ cd foo
$ nano foo.install

Make the package. After manually confirming the integrity of the files, run makepkg as a normal user in the build directory.

$ makepkg -s

The Template:Codeline switch will use sudo to install any needed dependencies. If the use of sudo is undesirable, use fakeroot (see #Using fakeroot) and exclude the Template:Codeline in the above command.

Install the package

Install the package using pacman. A tarball should have been created named:

<application name>-<version number>-<architecture>.pkg.tar.gz

This package can be installed using pacman's "upgrade" command:

# pacman -U foo-0.1-i686.pkg.tar.gz   
Note: The above example is only a brief summary of the package building process. A visit to the makepkg and ABS pages will provide more detail and is highly recommended (particularly for first-time users).

Using Template:Codeline

Template:Codeline simply allows a normal user the necessary root permissions to create packages 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, Template:Codeline is enabled in Template:Filename; users can prefix the option with a Template:Codeline in the Template:Codeline array to disable it.


The user plays an essential role in the AUR, which cannot fulfill its potential without the support, involvement, and contribution of the wider user community. The life-cycle 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.

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; it is in everyone's interest to vote!

Submitting Packages to UNSUPPORTED

After logging in to the AUR web interface, a user can submit a gzipped tarball (Template:Filename) of a directory containing build files for a package. The directory inside the tarball should contain a Template:Filename, any Template:Filename files, patches, etc. (ABSOLUTELY no binaries). Examples of what such a directory should look like can be seen inside Template:Filename if ABS was installed.

The tarball can be created with the following command:

$ tar cfvz pkgname.tar.gz pkgname/ 

Note that this is a gzipped tarball; assuming you are uploading a package called libfoo, when you create the file it should look similar to this:

$ ls -a libfoo
. .. PKGBUILD libfoo.install
$ makepkg --source
# List contents of tarball.
$ tar tf libfoo-0.1-1.src.tar.gz

When submitting a package, observe the following rules:

  • Check [core], [extra], 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 Template:Filename with a file named 'Template:Filename' in it you'll get a an error: 'Could not change to directory Template:Filename'. To resolve this, rename the file named 'Template:Filename' to something else, for example, 'Template:Filename'. When it is installed in the Template:Filename directory you may rename it back to 'Template:Filename'.

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 package using the AUR web interface and/or post a message to the AUR Mailing List.


The [community] repository, maintained by Trusted Users, contains the most popular packages from UNSUPPORTED. It is enabled by default in Template:Filename. If disabled/removed, it can be enabled by uncommenting/adding these two lines:


[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 also access the [community] build files by editing Template:Filename and enabling the community repository in the Template:Codeline array.