Official repositories

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A software repository is a storage location from which software packages are retrieved for installation.

Official repositories containing essential and popular software, readily accessible via pacman.

They are maintained by package maintainers.

Repositories

core

This repository can be found in .../core/os/ on your favorite mirror.

core contains packages for:

as well as dependencies of the above (not necessarily makedepends)

core has fairly strict quality requirements. Developers/users need to signoff on updates before package updates are accepted. For packages with low usage, a reasonable exposure is enough: informing people about update, requesting signoffs, keeping in testing up to a week depending on the severity of the change, lack of outstanding bug reports, along with the implicit signoff of the package maintainer.

Note: To create a local repository with packages from core (or other repositories) without an internet connection see Installing packages from a CD/DVD or USB stick.

extra

This repository can be found in .../extra/os/ on your favorite mirror.

extra contains all packages that do not fit in core. Example: Xorg, window managers, web browsers, media players, tools for working with languages such as Python and Ruby, and a lot more.

community

This repository can be found in .../community/os/ on your favorite mirror.

community contains packages from the Arch User Repository which gained enough votes to be adopted by a Trusted User.

multilib

This repository can be found in .../multilib/os/ on your favorite mirror.

multilib contains 32 bit software and libraries that can be used to run and build 32 bit applications on 64 bit installs (e.g. wine, skype, etc).

For more information, see Multilib.

testing

Warning: Be careful when enabling the testing repository. Your system may break after performing an update. Only experienced users who know how to deal with potential system breakage should use it.

This repository can be found in .../testing/os/ on your favorite mirror.

testing contains packages that are candidates for the core or extra repositories.

New packages go into testing if:

  • They are expected to break something on update and need to be tested first.
  • They require other packages to be rebuilt. In this case, all packages that need to be rebuilt are put into testing first and when all rebuilds are done, they are moved back to the other repositories.

testing is the only repository that can have name collisions with any of the other official repositories. If enabled, it has to be the first repository listed in your /etc/pacman.conf file.

Note: testing is not for the "newest of the new" package versions. Part of its purpose is to hold package updates that have the potential to break the system, either by being part of the core set of packages, or by being critical in other ways. As such, users of testing are strongly encouraged to subscribe to the arch-dev-public mailing list, watch the testing repository forum, and to report all bugs.

If you enable testing, you must also enable community-testing.

community-testing

This repository is like the testing repository, but for packages that are candidates for the community repository.

If you enable it, you must also enable testing.

multilib-testing

This repository is like the testing repository, but for packages that are candidates for the multilib repository.

If you enable it, you must also enable testing.

Historical background

official, unofficial, current & extra

Most of the repository splits are for historical reasons. Originally, when Arch Linux was used by very few users, there was only one repository known as official (now core). At the time, official basically contained Judd Vinet's preferred applications. It was designed to contain one of each "type" of program -- one DE, one major browser, etc.

There were users back then that did not like Judd's selection, so since the Arch Build System is so easy to use, they created packages of their own. These packages went into a repository called unofficial, and were maintained by developers other than Judd. Eventually, the two repositories were both considered equally supported by the developers, so the names official and unofficial no longer reflected their true purpose. They were subsequently renamed to current and extra sometime near the release version 0.5.

Shortly after the 2007.8.1 release, current was renamed core in order to prevent confusion over what exactly it contains. The repositories are now more or less equal in the eyes of the developers and the community, but core does have some differences. The main distinction is that packages used for Installation CDs and release snapshots are taken only from core. This repository still gives a complete Linux system, though it may not be the Linux system you want.

Some time around 0.5/0.6, there were a lot of packages that the developers did not want to maintain. Jason Chu set up the "Trusted User Repositories", which were unofficial repositories in which trusted users could place packages they had created. There was a staging repository where packages could be promoted into the official repositories by one of the Arch Linux developers, but other than this, the developers and trusted users were more or less distinct.

This worked for a while, but not when trusted users got bored with their repositories, and not when untrusted users wanted to share their own packages. This led to the development of the AUR. The TUs were conglomerated into a more closely knit group, and they now collectively maintain the community repository. The Trusted Users are still a separate group from the Arch Linux developers, and there is not a lot of communication between them. However, popular packages are still promoted from community to extra on occasion. The AUR also allows untrusted users to submit PKGBUILDs.

After a kernel in core broke many user systems, the "core signoff policy" was introduced. Since then, all package updates for core need to go through a testing repository first, and only after multiple signoffs from other developers are they allowed to move. Over time, it was noticed that various core packages had low usage, and user signoffs or even lack of bug reports became informally accepted as criteria to accept such packages.

In late 2009/the beginning of 2010, with the advent of some new filesystems and the desire to support them during installation, along with the realization that core was never clearly defined (just "important packages, handpicked by developers"), the repository received a more accurate description.