Archlinux tools: AUR

[ Sunday, 4 November 2007, mikrobart ]


You already know Pacman, the Archlinux software manager. Now it’s time to meet AUR and yaourt, the extra tools that can bring a fistful of apps on your desktop within just a few console commands. This article is part of the “Arch tools” series on polishlinux.org.

1. What is AUR?

AUR stands for Archlinux User-Community Repository. It is a set of PKGbuilds written by the users of Archlinux. I’ll explain what should we understand under the term PKGbuild later in this article.

Simply speaking AUR is a set of those packages, which are not attached to the official community repository (but are candidates to be attached). AUR users just simply vote on those packages. If a package gain a positive community opinion it is attached to the official set of packages. You can vote on packages visiting the web site www.aur.archlinux.org.

2. How to start using AUR?

To start using AUR you should get a proper managing program. Here you can choose from quite a number of possibilities:

  • aur-sync – quite simple program (written in Perl); it enables PKGbuilds downloading
  • aurbuild – very popular program written in Python; it has many functions but it is not supported any more
  • aur-get – extremely simple polish program; it enables only download of PKGbuilds
  • yaourt – probably the most sophisticated and popular program with a lot of functions; it works great as a Pacman frontend; yaourt is available on french Arch community repository.

3. How to use yaourt?

Using yaourt is quite easy and very similar to the commands of Pacman (it is quite understandable, since yaourt is a Pacman frontend). And now few commands:

yaourt -S package_name – package installation from AUR
yaourt -Ss password – package search
yaourt -Syu --aur – packages and system update using AUR
yaourt -Si package_name – display packages’ information
yaourt -Sc – remove old packages from cache
yaourt -Su – update all AUR packages
yaourt -Sy – get the newest AUR packages database
yaourt -Cd – clean AUR packages database
yaourt -R package_name – remove package

You’ll get more information about yaourt using the command yaourt --help.

4. ABS and AUR — differences

ABS contains only the packages created by Arch developers. AUR on the contrary uses PKGbuilds made by users (community members). There’s nothing to be afraid of, however. Every package, even if it gains a lot of users’ voices, is always checked by so called Trusted User before releasing to public.

5. What is PKGbuild?

On the beginning of this article I made a promise of explaining PKGbuild term, because we talk a lot about it and the same time we don’t know what is this. PKGbuild is just simply a text file which contains a description how to build a package and some meta data of the package (information about the software).

Here is an example of PKGbuild file:

# $Id: PKGBUILD,v 1.12 2003/11/06 08:26:13 dorphell Exp $
# Maintainer: judd
# Contributor: Judd Vinet
pkgname=foo
pkgver=0.99 # note: if the program version is '0.99-10' you should \\
write '0.99_10'
pkgrel=1
pkgdesc="short description  foo"
arch=(i686 x86_64)
url="http://www.foo.org"
groups=
provides=
depends=('qt' 'python')
makedepends=('guile')
conflicts=('yafoo')
replaces=('mffoo')
backup=('etc/foo/foo.conf')
install=('foo.install')
source=(http://www.foo.org/download/$pkgname-$pkgver.tar.gz)
md5sums=('2c0cca3ef6330a187c6ef4fe41ecaa4d35175bee593a7cc7d6205584a94d8625')

build() {
cd $startdir/src/$pkgname-$pkgver
./configure --prefix=/usr
make || return 1
make prefix=$startdir/pkg/usr install
}

Tags meaning:

  • text – comments
  • Maintainer – package maintainer in the repository
  • Contributor – a person who prepared the first version of the package
  • pkgname – package name
  • pkgver – package version
  • pkgdesc – package description
  • arch – architecture for which the package is designed for
  • url – home page of the package
  • md5sums – md5 sum, it is necessary for the package integrity checking

We have already covered Pacman and AUR in our short Archlinux tools series. If you would like to write about another arch tool or perhaps about the Arch64 edition, feel free to send us your text at michuk@polishlinux.org.

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