Meta package and package group

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Revision as of 09:54, 19 October 2019 by Lahwaacz (talk | contribs) (rewrite first sentence, "or" between meta package and package group is misleading (may be misunderstood as synonyms))
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A meta package and a package group can be defined by the packager to denote a set of related packages. Both can allow to install or uninstall this set of packages simultaneously by using the meta package or the group name as a substitute for each individual package name. While a group is not a package, it can be installed in a similar fashion to a package, see Pacman#Installing package groups and PKGBUILD#groups.

Difference between meta package and package group

A meta package, often (though not always) titled with the "-meta" suffix, provides similar functionality to a package group in that it enables multiple related packages to be installed or uninstalled simultaneously. Meta packages can be installed just like any other package (see Pacman#Installing specific packages). The only difference between a meta package and a regular package is that a meta package is empty and exists purely to link related packages together via dependencies.

The advantage of a meta package, compared to a group, is that any new member packages will be installed when the meta package itself is updated with a new set of dependencies. This is in contrast to a group where new group members will not be automatically installed. The disadvantage of a meta package is that it is not as flexible as a group; you can choose which group members you wish to install but you cannot choose which meta package dependencies you wish to install. Likewise, you can uninstall group members without having to remove the entire group. However, you cannot remove meta package dependencies without having to uninstall the meta package itself.

Meta packages

The most important meta package is base. It contains a minimal package set that defines a basic Arch Linux installation. It includes:

The kernel is an optional dependency. See the announcement when it was introduced, and reasoning why base is a meta package.

Groups

The most important package group is base-devel. It contains tools required to build many packages like GCC and make. See also makepkg#Usage.

See also