Electron package guidelines

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This document covers standards and guidelines on writing PKGBUILDs for Electron.

Using the system electron

Arch Linux provides global electron and versioned electron* packages that can be used to run an electron application via a shellscript wrapper:


exec electron /path/to/appname/ "$@"

The appname/ directory, or alternatively a file bundle called appname.asar, can be found in a prebuilt electron application as the resources/app/ folder (or resources/app.asar). Everything else is just a copy of the electron runtime and can be removed from the final package.

Building compiled extensions against the system electron

Some electron applications have compiled native extensions which link to the electron runtime, and must be built using the correct electron version. Since npm/yarn will always build against a private prebuilt copy of electron, patch the electron dependency from package.json to reference the same version as the system electron dependency. The build system will download the prebuilt copy it requires, compile the native extensions, and package everything into a final distribution, but this can be pruned during the package() step as usual.

Alternatively, you can remove the electron dependency from package.json and set the correct environment variables before running npm:

export npm_config_target=$(tail /usr/lib/electron/version)
export npm_config_arch=x64
export npm_config_target_arch=x64
export npm_config_disturl=https://electronjs.org/headers[dead link 2023-10-29 ⓘ]
export npm_config_runtime=electron
export npm_config_build_from_source=true
HOME="$srcdir/.electron-gyp" npm install

Set HOME to a path inside the $srcdir so the build process does not place any files in your real HOME directory. Make sure to adjust the path for all further commands that make use of the .electron-gyp cache.

(more details in Electron docs).

Using electron-builder with system electron

Many projects use electron-builder to build and package the Javascript file and Electron binaries. By default electron-builder downloads the entire electron version that is defined in the package management file (e.g. package.json). This might not be desired if you want to use the system electron and save the bandwidth since you are going to throw away the electron binaries anyway. The electron-builder provides the configurations electronDist and electronVersion, to specify a custom path of Electron and the version the application is packaged for respectively.

Find the electron-builder configuration file (e.g. electron-builder.json) and add the following settings:

  • electronDist to /usr/lib/electron for electron or /usr/lib/electron2 for electron2AUR
  • electronVersion to the contents of /usr/lib/electron/version without the leading v

Packages that apply this: rocketchat-desktopAUR ubports-installer-gitAUR

electron-builder configuration

Alternatively you can use the CLI to change/add these settings like this:

./node_modules/.bin/electron-builder --linux --x64 --dir $dist -c.electronDist=$electronDist -c.electronVersion=$electronVer

Note that you have to specify all these options or it will not work.


See PKGBUILD#arch.

An Electron package that contains compiled native extensions is architecture-dependent. Otherwise it is most likely architecture-independent.

If the package contains a prebuilt copy of electron, it is always architecture-dependent.

Directory structure

If the package is architecture-dependent, install the resources/app/ directory to /usr/lib/appname/. Otherwise use /usr/share/appname/.

If the package contains a prebuilt copy of electron, copy the final distribution in its entirety to /opt/appname.