VCS package guidelines

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Template:Package Guidelines

Version control systems can be used for retrieval of source code for both usual statically versioned packages and latest (trunk) version of packages. This article covers both cases.


The ABS package provides prototypes for cvs, svn, git, mercurial, and darcs PKGBUILDs. When abs is installed, you can find them in /usr/share/pacman. Latest versions can be found in the prototypes directory in the ABS Git repository.


  • Suffix pkgname with -cvs, -svn, -hg, -darcs, -bzr, -git etc. unless the package fetches a specific release.
  • If the resulting package is different after changing the dependencies, URL, sources, etc. increasing the pkgrel is mandatory. Touching the pkgver isn't.
  • Include what the package conflicts with and provides (e.g. for fluxbox-gitAUR: conflicts=('fluxbox') and provides=('fluxbox')).
  • replaces=() generally causes unnecessary problems and should be avoided.
  • When using the cvsroot, use anonymous:@ rather than anonymous@ to avoid having to enter a blank password or anonymous:password@, if one is required.

VCS sources

Note: Pacman 4.1 supports the following VCS sources: bzr, git, hg and svn. See the fragment section of man PKGBUILD or PKGBUILD(5) for a list of supported VCS.

Starting with pacman 4.1, the VCS sources should be specified in the source=() array and will be treated like any other source. makepkg will clone/checkout/branch the repo into $SRCDEST (same as $startdir if not set in makepkg.conf(5)) and copy it to $srcdir (in a specific way to each VCS). The local repo is left untouched, thus invalidating the need for a -build directory.

The general format of a VCS source=() array is:

  • folder (optional) is used to change the default repo name to something more relevant (e.g. than trunk) or to preserve the previous sources
  • vcs+ is needed for URLs that do not reflect the VCS type, e.g. git+http://some_repo.
  • url is the URL to the distant or local repo
  • #fragment (optional) is needed to pull a specific branch or commit

An example Git source array:


The pkgver() function

The pkgver autobump is now achieved via a dedicated pkgver() function. This allows for better control over the pkgver, and maintainers should favor a pkgver that makes sense. Following are some examples for several VCS.


With tags:

pkgver() {
  cd local_repo
  git describe --always | sed 's|-|.|g'

Without tags:

pkgver() {
  cd local_repo
  echo "0.$(git rev-list --count HEAD).$(git describe --always)"

Using the last commit date:

pkgver() {
  cd local_repo
  git log -1 --format="%cd" --date=short | tr -d '-'

Using the timestamp of the last commit:

pkgver() {
  cd local_repo
  git log -1 --format=%cd --date=raw | awk '{print $1}



pkgver() {
  cd "$SRCDEST"/local_repo
  svnversion |tr -d [A-z]
Note: The copy inside $srcdir is made using svn export which does not create working copies. Any svn related command has to be used in the local repo, hence $SRCDEST.


pkgver() {
  cd "$srcdir"/local_repo
  hg identify -ni | awk 'BEGIN{OFS=".";} {print $2,$1}'


pkgver() {
  cd "$srcdir"/local_repo
  bzr revno


The following can be used in case no satisfactory pkgver can be extracted from the repo:

pkgver() {
  date +"%Y%m%d"


A sample Git PKGBUILD for pacman 4.1

# Maintainer: Dave Reisner <> 
# Contributor: William Giokas (KaiSforza) <>

pkgdesc="Pacman database extraction utility"
arch=('i686' 'x86_64')
makedepends=('git' 'perl')
# Here is the fun bit. Makepkg knows it's a git repo because the URL starts with 'git'
# it then knows to checkout the branch 'pacman41' upon cloning, expediating versioning:
# Because the sources are not static, skip Git checksum:

pkgver() {
  cd "$srcdir/$_gitname"
  git describe --always | sed 's|-|.|g'
  # To give the total count of commits and the hash of the last one
  # (useful if you're making a repository with git packages so that they can have
  # sequential version numbers, else a "pacman -Syu" may not update the package):
  #echo "0.$(git rev-list --count $branch).$(git describe --always)"
  # Using the last commit date:
  #git log -1 --format="%cd" --date=short | sed 's|-||g'

build() {
  cd "$srcdir/$_gitname"

package() {
  cd "$srcdir/$_gitname"
  make PREFIX=/usr DESTDIR="$pkgdir" install
  install -Dm644 "$srcdir/expac_icon.png" "$pkgdir/usr/share/pixmaps/expac.png"

Removing VCS leftovers

To make sure that there are no VCS leftovers use the following at the end of the package() function (replacing .git with .svn, .hg, etc.):

find "$pkgdir" -type d -name ".git" -exec rm -r '{}' +

SVN packages that try to get their revision number

If the build system for the program you are packaging calls svnversion or svn info to determine its revision number, you can add a prepare() function similar to this one to make it work:

prepare() {
  cp -a "$SRCDEST/$_svnmod/.svn" "$srcdir/$_svnmod/"


Bazaar limitation

Currently, bazaar URLs only work in the form of, e.g.:


Using any other http://, https:// or ssh:// URL (including lp:project_name) will prevent makepkg from updating the local repo.

The correct URL can be obtained with:

$ bzr config parent_location