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Pacaur is an Arch User Repository (AUR) helper aiming at speed and simplicity, designed to minimize user prompt interaction and to use an uncluttered interface. It is written in Bash and built upon the well designed cower and expac C backends.

Note: Pacaur is targeted to advanced users who wants some degree of automation for repetitive tasks. As such, the user is expected to be familiar with the manual build process.


Pacaur main feature revolves around a fast workflow idea, that is, spending as less time as possible interacting with package management prompts. The objectives of speed, simplicity and uncluttered interface were also taken into consideration.

Pacaur is:


  • It minimizes user interaction.
  • It has very good performance with minimal memory footprint.
  • It retrieve and edit all PKGBUILDs, check and solve all conflicts before building anything.


  • It does not add lot of features, but simply extends pacman to manage the AUR.
  • It does not reinvent the wheel, but is built upon existing tools (cower, expac, sudo, pacman-color).
  • It is a small bash script using tiny C libraries.
  • It is based on libalpm C interface directly maintained by a pacman developer.


  • It can be used as a separate AUR frontend, or a single tool to manage official and AUR packages.
  • Its search function provides regex support (through cower).
  • It provides binary and AUR package names completion.
  • It passes arguments to pacman when appropriate.
  • It shows current and available version when checking update.


  • It does not source the PKGBUILDs unecessarily.
  • It detects and warns about possible malicious sudo code in the PKGBUILDs.
  • It disposes of an additional full secured mode for paranoïde people.


The following binary dependencies need to be installed:

You can then install cowerAUR as a dependency, and then pacaurAUR itself. Both those packages are available from the AUR. You will have to install them with the official method for installing unsupported packages.

Note: All users should be familiar with the build process. You can take this as an opportunity to learn what are the operations that AUR helpers make automatic.

The package pacman-colorAUR is optional but highly recommended for adding color output support.


Invoking pacaur consists of supplying an operation, any applicable options, and usually one or more targets.

usage:  pacaur <operation> [options] [package(s)]
 pacman extension
   -S, -Q          extend pacman operations to the AUR
 AUR only
   -s, --search    search AUR repository for matching strings
   -i, --info      view package information -- pass twice for details
   -d, --download  download target(s) -- pass twice to download AUR dependencies
   -m, --makepkg   download and make target(s)
   -y, --sync      download, make and install target(s)
   -k, --check     check for AUR update(s)
   -u, --update    update AUR package(s)
   -v, --version   display version information
   -h, --help      display help information
   --fixbackend    quickly rebuild backend

 pacman extension - can be used with the -S, -Ss, -Si, -Sii, -Sw, -Su, -Qu, -Sc, -Scc operations
   -a, --aur       only search, install or clean packages from the AUR
   -r, --repo      only search, install or clean packages from the repositories
   -e, --edit      edit target PKGBUILD -- can be combined with the -d, -m, -y, -u flags
   -c, --clean     clean target(s) build files -- can be combined with the -m, -y, -u flags
   -q, --quiet     show less information for query and search
   --devel         consider AUR development packages upgrade
   --ignore        ignore a package upgrade (can be used more than once)
   --noconfirm     do not prompt for any confirmation
   --noedit        do not prompt to edit files
   --rebuild       always rebuild package

Userbase target

Two types of users are in mind:

  • those who prefer to have one single tool to manage AUR and official repositories,
  • those who prefer to keep their AUR frontend separate from Pacman.

As such there are two sets of commands:

  • commands that wrap the pacman binary (-S, -Ss, -Si, -Sw. -Su, -Qu, -Sc) and extend its functions to the AUR. This behavior can be disabled with the fallback variable in the config file.
  • commands that are AUR specific (-s, -i, -m, -y, -k, -u).


pacaur -Ss package will search the repo, then the AUR if necessary (fallback enabled).

$ pacaur -Ss expac
community/expac 1-2
    pacman database extraction utility
aur/expac-git 20110324-1 (24)
    pacman database extraction utility

pacaur -Ss package will be restricted to searching in the repo only, while pacaur -Ssa package will search the AUR (fallback disabled).

$ pacaur -Ss expac
community/expac 1-2
    pacman database extraction utility
$ pacaur -Ssa expac
aur/expac-git 20110324-1 (24)
    pacman database extraction utility

pacaur -s package will search the AUR only.

$ pacaur -s expac
aur/expac-git 20110324-1 (24)
    pacman database extraction utility


Here are the available options in the config file:

# /etc/xdg/pacaur/config

# The following options are commented out with their default values listed.
# If you wish to use different values, uncomment and update the values.
#builddir="${BUILDDIR:-$tmpdir}"       # build directory
#editor="${EDITOR:-vi}"                # PKGBUILD editor
#editpkgbuild=true                     # edit PKGBUILD script
#editinstall=true                      # edit install script
#fallback=true                         # pacman fallback to the AUR
#clean=true                            # clean up after package install
#cleandevel=true                       # clean up devel package
#color=false                           # color support via pacman-color
#secure=false                          # enhanced security

See also man pacaur.

Config files

Pacaur fully honors pacman and makepkg configuration files, as well as the sudoers and cower config file (if existing).

Environment variables

Note that pacaur fully honors pacman and makepkg environment variables ($BUILDDIR, $PKGDEST, $PACMAN, ...).

Sudo configuration

Pacaur is designed to be used with sudo for minimal password prompting and your /etc/sudoers should be configured accordingly.

To avoid password prompt timeout (typically if you went grabbing a coffee while waiting the build to finish), disable it in your sudoers:

Defaults passwd_timeout=0


Host name error

When checking AUR packages for updates, pacaur outputs a lot of "Couldn't resolve host name" and "Timeout was reached" messages in spite of the internet line working correctly.

  • Configure your DNS server to improve queries speed. Try using Google primary DNS ( and
  • Alternatively, tweak cower's config file to decrease the number of threads used in "MaxThread" variable.

Pacman upgrade

When upgrading pacman to a newer version, pacman fails due to dependency conflicts with an older version of cower or pacaur. In pacman.conf, try adding them to the SyncFirst variable:

SyncFirst   = pacman cower pacaur

Using gvim as editor

When using gvim as editor, gvim opens but the build continues. In pacaur.conf, try:

editor="gvim --nofork"

External Links