Official repositories

From ArchWiki

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

Arch Linux official repositories contain essential and popular software, readily accessible via pacman. They are maintained by package maintainers.

Packages in the official repositories are constantly upgraded: when a package is upgraded, its old version is removed from the repository. There are no major Arch releases: each package is upgraded as new versions become available from upstream sources. Each repository is always coherent, i.e. the packages that it hosts always have reciprocally compatible versions.

Stable 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) and the base meta package.

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 core-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.

Tip: To create a local repository with packages from core (or other repositories) without an internet connection see Pacman tips#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. This repository is jointly maintained by the Package Maintainers and Arch Developers. Examples: Xorg, window managers, web browsers, media players, tools for working with languages such as Python and Ruby, and a lot more.

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, steam, etc).

With the multilib repository enabled, the 32-bit compatible libraries are located under /usr/lib32/.

Enabling multilib

To enable multilib repository, uncomment the [multilib] section in /etc/pacman.conf:

/etc/pacman.conf
[multilib]
Include = /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

Then upgrade the system and install the desired multilib packages.

Tip: Run pacman -Sl multilib to list all packages in the multilib repository. 32-bit library package names begin with lib32-.

Disabling multilib

Execute the following command to remove all packages that were installed from multilib:

# pacman -R $(comm -12 <(pacman -Qq | sort) <(pacman -Slq multilib | sort))

If you have conflicts with gcc-libs reinstall the gcc-libs package and the dependencies of the base-devel package (see Pacman/Tips and tricks#Dependencies of a package).

Note: If the command returns error: no targets specified (use -h for help) that means that there are no packages from the multilib repository installed on your system.

Comment out the [multilib] section in /etc/pacman.conf:

/etc/pacman.conf
#[multilib]
#Include = /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

Then upgrade the system.

Testing repositories

The intended purpose of the testing repositories is to provide a staging area for packages to be placed prior to acceptance into the main repositories. Package maintainers (and general users) can then access these testing packages to make sure that there are no problems integrating the new package. Once a package has been tested and no errors are found, the package can then be moved to the primary repositories.

Not all packages need to go through this testing process. New packages go into a testing repository if:

  • They are destined for the core repository. Everything in core must go through core-testing.
  • They are expected to break something on update and need to be tested first.
  • They affect many packages (such as perl or python).

The testing repositories are also usually used for new releases of large collections of packages such as GNOME and KDE.

Note: The testing repositories are not for the "newest of the new" package versions. Part of their 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 the testing repositories are strongly encouraged to subscribe to the arch-dev-public mailing list, watch the testing repositories forum, and to report all bugs. You should also consider joining the Arch Testing Team.
Warning:
  • Testing repositories may contain pre-release software versions.
  • Be careful when enabling the testing repositories. Your system may break after performing an update. Only experienced users who know how to deal with potential system breakage should use it.
  • If you enable core-testing, you must also enable extra-testing, and vice versa. If you enable any other testing repository listed in the following subsections, you must also enable both core-testing and extra-testing.
  • Since not all packages in the main repositories have their versions in the testing repositories, the core and extra main repositories should be retained, and the corresponding testing repositories should be in front of the main repository.

core-testing

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

core-testing contains packages that are candidates for the core repository.

core-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.

extra-testing

This repository is similar to the core-testing repository, but for packages that are candidates for the extra repository.

multilib-testing

This repository is similar to the core-testing repository, but for packages that are candidates for the multilib repository.

gnome-unstable

This repository contains testing packages for the next stable or stable release candidate version of the GNOME desktop environment, before they are moved to the main extra-testing repository.

To enable it, add the following lines to /etc/pacman.conf:

/etc/pacman.conf
[gnome-unstable]
Include = /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

The gnome-unstable entry should be first in the list of repositories (i.e., above the core-testing entry).

Please report packaging related bugs in Arch's GitLab, while anything else should be reported upstream to GNOME Gitlab.

kde-unstable

This repository contains the latest beta or Release Candidate of KDE Plasma and Applications.

To enable it, add the following lines to /etc/pacman.conf:

/etc/pacman.conf
[kde-unstable]
Include = /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

The kde-unstable entry should be first in the list of repositories (i.e., above the enabled core-testing entry; see warnings above).

Make sure you make bug reports if you find any problems.

Disabling testing repositories

If you enabled testing repositories, but later on decided to disable them, you should:

  1. Remove (comment out) them from /etc/pacman.conf
  2. Perform a pacman -Syuu to "rollback" your updates from these repositories.

The second item is optional, but keep it in mind if you notice any problems.

Staging repositories

Warning: Do not enable the staging repositories for any reason. Your system will unquestionably break after performing an update. This repository is only meant for backend developer use.

This repository contains broken packages and is used solely by developers during rebuilds of many packages at once. In order to rebuild packages that depend on, for example, a new shared library, the shared library itself must first be built and uploaded to the staging repositories to be made available to other developers. As soon as all dependent packages are rebuilt, the group of packages is then moved to the testing or the main repositories, whichever is more appropriate.

See the announcement of the introduction of the staging repositories for more historical details.

Historical background

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 other 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 maintained the community repository. The Trusted Users were still a separate group from the Arch Linux developers, and there was not a lot of communication between them. However, popular packages were still promoted from community to extra on occasion. The AUR also allows all 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 the core-testing repository first, and only after multiple signoffs from other developers or people on the Arch Testing Team are then 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.

This article or section needs expansion.

Reason: The history from 2010 to 2023 is absent: answering how we got from "The Trusted Users are still a separate group from the Arch Linux developers, and there is not a lot of communication between them" to having them being considered a full part of the distribution should be documented. (Discuss in Talk:Official repositories)

Starting in 2021, and finalized in late 2023, the "Trusted Users" were renamed to "Package Maintainers".

In 2023 after years of prior work the distribution migrated their back-end services to git and in the same run also switched to a new repository layout. In the new layout extra would contain all packages that were previously in community and the testing repositories were split from testing to core-testing and extra-testing, community-testing was removed entirely. From that point on the Package Maintainers were also able to push new packages to extra.