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 a development branch. This article covers both cases.


Warning: The prototype files provided in the abs package and in the ABS Git repository are significantly out-of-date. Do not consider the prototypes to be authoritative in any way. See FS#34485.

The abs package for the Arch Build System 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 is not.
  • 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.
  • Include the appropriate VCS tool in makedepends=() (cvs, subversion, git, ...).

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. See man PKGBUILD for more information on the fragments available for each VCS.

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.

It is recommended to have following version format: RELEASE.rREVISION where REVISION is a monotonically increasing number that uniquely identifies the source tree (VCS revisions do this). The last VCS tag can be used for RELEASE. If there are no public releases and no repository tags then zero could be used as a release number or you can drop RELEASE completely and use version number that looks like rREVISION. If there are public releases but repo has no tags then developer should get the release version somehow e.g. by parsing the project files.

Following are some examples showing the intended output:


Using the annotated tag of the last commit:

pkgver() {
  cd "$srcdir/repo"
  git describe --long | sed -E 's/([^-]*-g)/r\1/;s/-/./g'

Using the unannotated tag of the last commit:

pkgver() {
  cd "$srcdir/repo"
  git describe --long --tags | sed -E 's/([^-]*-g)/r\1/;s/-/./g'

If tag contains additional non-numeric information, like v prefix or project name then it should be cut off:

pkgver() {
  cd "$srcdir/repo"
  # cutting off 'foo-' prefix that presents in the git tag
  git describe | sed 's/^foo-//; s/-/.r/; s/-/./'

If there are no tags then use number of revisions since beginning of the history:

pkgver() {
  cd "$srcdir/repo"
  printf "r%s.%s" "$(git rev-list --count HEAD)" "$(git rev-parse --short HEAD)"
Note: SHA1 (in this case a17a017) is not used in the version comparison and can be omitted, although it allows quick identification of the exact revision used and might be useful during debugging.


pkgver() {
  cd "$srcdir/repo"
  local ver="$(svnversion)"
  printf "r%s" "${ver//[[:alpha:]]}"
Note: If the project has releases you should use them instead of the 0..


pkgver() {
  cd "$srcdir/repo"
  printf "r%s.%s" "$(hg identify -n)" "$(hg identify -i)"


pkgver() {
  cd "$srcdir/repo"
  printf "r%s" "$(bzr revno)"


The current date can be used, in case no satisfactory pkgver can be extracted from the repository:

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

Although it does not identify source tree state uniquely, so avoid it if possible.


A sample Git PKGBUILD

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

pkgdesc="Pacman database extraction utility"
arch=('i686' 'x86_64')
# The git repo is detected by the 'git:' or 'git+' beginning. The branch
# '$pkgname' is then checked out upon cloning, expediating versioning:
# Because the sources are not static, skip Git checksum:

pkgver() {
  cd "$srcdir/$pkgname"
  # Use the tag of the last commit
  git describe | sed 's/-/.r/; s/-/./'

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

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

Git Submodules

Git submodules are a little tricky to do. The idea is to add the URLs of the submodules themselves directly to the sources array and then reference them during prepare(). This could look like this:


prepare() {
    cd something
    git submodule init
    git config submodule.mysubmodule.url $srcdir/mysubmodule
    git submodule update