Arch terminology

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This page is intended to be a page to demystify common terms used among the Arch Linux community. Feel free to add or modify any terms, but please use that particular section's edit option. If you decide to add one, please put it in alphabetical order.

Arch Linux

Arch should be referred to as:

  • Arch Linux
  • Arch (Linux implied)
  • archlinux (UNIX name)

Archlinux, ArchLinux, archLinux, aRcHlInUx, and etc are all weird, and weirder mutations.

Officially, the 'Arch' in "Arch Linux" is pronounced /ˈɑrtʃ/ as in an "archer"/bowman, or "arch-nemesis", and not as in "ark" or "archangel".


The Arch Build System (ABS for short) is useful to:

  • Make new packages of software for which no packages are yet available
  • Customize/Modify existing packages to fit your needs (enabling or disabling options)
  • Re-build your entire system using your compiler flags, "a la Gentoo"
  • Getting kernel modules working with your custom kernel

ABS is not necessary to use Arch Linux, but it is useful.

For more information see the ABS page


The Arch Linux User Community Repository (AUR) is a community driven repository for Arch users. The AUR was initially conceived to organize the sharing of PKGBUILDs amongst the wider community and to expedite the inclusion of popular user-contributed packages into the [core] and [extra] repos via the AUR [community] repo.

The AUR is the birthplace of new Arch packages. Users contribute their own packages to the AUR. The AUR community votes for their favourite packages and eventually, once a package has garnered enough votes, an AUR Trusted User may take it to the [community] repository, which is accessible via pacman and ABS.

You can access the Arch Linux User Community Repository here


PKGBUILDs are small scripts that are used to build Arch Linux packages. See Creating Packages for more detail.

TU, Trusted User

A Trusted User is someone who maintains the AUR and the [community] repository. Trusted Users may move a package into the [community] repository if it has been voted as popular. TUs are appointed by a majority vote by the existing TUs.

Trusted users follow the AUR Trusted User Guidelines and TU by-laws

TUR, Trusted User Repository (obsolete)

Before the AUR and [community], TUs had their own repositories with applications that weren't available in the official ones. Anyone can make a repository, but TURs were thought to be of higher quality, because TUs are voted for their knowledge and effort.


Bulletin board system, but in Arch's case it's just the support forum located at


The community repository is where pre-built packages are made available by Trusted Users. A majority of the packages in community, come from the AUR.

To access the community repository, uncomment it in /etc/pacman.conf.


The Core repository contains the bare packages needed for an Arch System. It has everything needed to get a working command line system

custom/user repository

Anyone can create a repo and put it online for other users. To create a repository, you need a set of packages and a pacman compatible database file for your packages. Host your files online and everyone will be able to use your repo by adding it as a regular repository.

See Custom local repository.


Half gods working to improve Arch for no financial gain. Developers are outranked only by our gods, Judd Vinet and Aaron Griffin, who in turn are outranked by tacos.


The device file system. DevFS handles, dynamically, the creation, deletion and permission management of device nodes in the /dev directory. It was the default kernel device manager in Arch Linux until release 0.7. Now DevFS is deprecated and in the process of being removed from the Linux kernel. DevFS has been superseded by udev.

Note that Arch installation CDs prior to 0.7.1 use the devfs naming scheme when creating /etc/fstab entries.


In this, you can create various network configurations.

This is very useful for laptop users that switch networks very often, for example between a home and an office network.

Additionally it can be used with wpa-supplicant that can manage all of you wireless networks. For each configuration you need to make a configuration file. The easiest way to do this, is by copying the template. After you are done with this, you need to enable these in /etc/rc.conf

After applying changes, you should restart your network by using, as root,

 /etc/rc.d/network restart


/etc/rc.conf is the main system configuration file for Arch Linux. It allows you to set your keyboard, timezone, hostname, network, daemons to run and modules to load at bootup, profiles, and more. Detailed description of the configuration options is given here: Rc.conf


/etc/rc.d is a directory that contains the scripts that handle starting and stopping of services. On every boot, the services that are present in the DAEMONS= array in /etc/rc.conf are started by running the corresponding scripts in /etc/rc.d.

It is also possible to control the services from the command line (as root), e.g.,

/etc/rc.d/cups start

would start the CUPS daemon. Typical arguments for the scripts are start, stop and restart.


This script is run at the end of every boot. It is intended for miscellaneous commands that you might want to execute before the login prompt. It is not recommended to add any services or settings in /etc/rc.local that could be started or set from /etc/rc.conf instead.


Arch's official package set is fairly streamlined, but we supplement this with a larger, more complete "extra" repository that contains a lot of the stuff that never made it into our core package set. This repository is constantly growing with the help of packages submitted from our strong community. This is where desktop environments, window managers and common programs are found.


Hwd; hardware detect for Arch Linux, is for both devfs and udev device systems and also for kernels 2.4.x and 2.6.x. Instead of running an auto configure script which may be expected, Hwd (/usr/bin/hwd) doesn't change existing configurations. It detects hardware and modules, and provides information on how to make changes manually. This allows the user to have control over his/her system; the basic philosophy of Arch Linux.

Hwd is available in the AUR.


hwdetect is a hardware detection script primarily used to load or list modules for use in rc.conf or mkinitcpio.conf. The script makes use of information exported by the sysfs subsystem employed by the Linux kernel.



The special file /dev/initrd is a read-only block device. Device /dev/initrd is a RAM disk that is initialized (e.g. loaded) by the boot loader before the kernel is started. The kernel then can use the block device /dev/initrd's contents for a two phased system boot-up.

In the first boot-up phase, the kernel starts up and mounts an initial root file-system from the contents of /dev/initrd (e.g. RAM disk initialized by the boot loader). In the second phase, additional drivers or other modules are loaded from the initial root device's contents. After loading the additional modules, a new root file system (i.e. the normal root file system) is mounted from a different device.


makepkg will build packages for you. makepkg will read the metadata required from a PKGBUILD file. All it needs is a build-capable linux platform, wget, and some build scripts. The advantage to a script-based build is that you only really do the work once. Once you have the build script for a package, you just need to run makepkg and it will do the rest: download and validate source files, check dependencies, configure the build time settings, build the package, install the package into a temporary root, make customizations, generate meta-info, and package the whole thing up for pacman to use.


namcap is a package analysis utility that looks for problems with Arch Linux packages or their PKGBUILD files. It can apply rules to the file list, the files themselves, or individual PKGBUILD files.

Rules return lists of messages. Each message can be one of three types: error, warning, or information (think of them as notes or comments). Errors (designated by 'E:') are things that namcap is very sure are wrong and need to be fixed. Warnings (designated by 'W:') are things that namcap thinks should be changed but if you know what you're doing then you can leave them. Information (designated 'I:') are only shown when you use the info argument. Information messages give information that might be helpful but isn't anything that needs changing.


A package is an archive containing

  • all the (compiled) files of an application
  • metadata about the application, such as application name, version, dependencies, ...
  • installation files and directives for pacman
  • (optionally) extra files to make your life easier, such as a start/stop script

Arch's package manager pacman can install, update and remove programs cleanly those packages. Using packages instead of compiling and installing programs yourself has various benefits:

  • easily updatable: pacman will update existing packages as soon as updates are available
  • dependency checks: pacman handles dependencies for you, you only need to specify the program and pacman installs it together with every other program it needs
  • clean removal: pacman has a list of every file in a package. This way no files are left behind when you decide to remove a package

Note: different GNU/Linux distributions use different packages and package manager, meaning that you can't use pacman to install a Debian package on Arch.


The Pacman package manager is one of the great highlights of Arch Linux. It combines a simple binary package format with an easy-to-use build system (see ABS). Pacman makes it possible to easily manage and customize packages, whether they be from the official Arch repositories or the user's own creations. The repository system allows users to build and maintain their own custom package repositories, which encourages community growth and contribution (see AUR).

Pacman can keep a system up to date by synchronizing package lists with the master server, making it a breeze for the security-conscious system administrator to maintain. This server/client model also allows you to download/install packages with a simple command, complete with all required dependencies (similar to Debian's apt-get).

NB: Pacman was written by Judd Vinet, the creator of Arch Linux. It is used as a package management tool by other distros as well, such as FrugalWare, Rubix, UfficioZero (in Italian, based on Ubuntu), and, of course, Arch Linux derivatives such as Archie and AEGIS.


This is the configuration file of pacman. It's located in /etc. For a full explanation of its powers, type this at the command line:

man pacman.conf


Release repository follows the semi-regular snapshot releases and does not update until the next snapshot/iso has been released. For example, the Release repository will point to all packages on the 0.5 ISO until we release 0.6; then it will point to 0.6 packages until 0.7 is released. This is useful if you only want to update your system when a new release is available.


The repository has the pre-compiled packages of one or (usually) more PKGBUILDs. Official repositories are

  • core: containing the latest version of packages required for a full CLI system
  • extra: containing the latest version of packages not needed for a working system, but needed for an enjoyable system ;)
  • community: containing packages that came from AUR and got enough user votes

Pacman uses these repositories to search for packages and install them. A repository can be local (i.e. on your own computer) or remote (i.e. the packages are downloaded before they're installed).


"Read The Fucking (or Fine) Manual". This simple message is replied to a lot of new Linux/Arch users who ask about the functionality of a program when it is clearly defined in the program's manual.

It is often used when a user fails to make any attempt to find a solution to the problem themselves. If someone tells you this, they are not trying to offend you, they are just frustrated with your lack of effort.

The best thing to do if you are told to do this is to read the manual page.

  • To read the program manual page for a particular program, type this at the command line:

where PROGRAM-NAME is the name of the program you need more information about.

If you do not find the answer to your question in the program manual, there are more ways to find the answer. You can:


The tarballed PKGBUILD and local source files that are required by makepkg to create an installable binary package. The name derives from the practice of uploading such tarball to the AUR, whence "tAURball".


This is the repo where major packages/updates to packages are kept prior to release into the main repos, so they can be bug tested and upgrade issues can be found. It is disabled by default, but can be enabled in /etc/pacman.conf


udev provides a dynamic device directory containing only the files for actually present devices. It creates or removes device node files in the /dev directory, or it renames network interfaces.

Usually udev runs as udevd(8) and receives uevents directly from the kernel if a device is added/removed from/to the system.

If udev receives a device event, it matches its configured rules against the available device attributes provided in sysfs to identify the device. Rules that match may provide additional device information or specify a device node name and multiple symlink names and instruct udev to run additional programs as part of the device event handling.


This! A place to find documentation about Arch Linux. Anyone can add and modify the documentation.