Package management


I've finally put together a fast, reliable and non-intrusive way to install/query/clean pretty much any software package on the planet in 3 easy steps.

A. Installation

1. Official packages with Pacman

The official Arch Linux repository contains more than 10k packages that can be installed with Pacman, the default package manager that is simple, yet very powerful:

Search and install package from official repository:

  pacman -Ss bitcoin # search a package
  pacman -S bitcoin # sync (install/update) a package

2. AUR packages with Rua

If your tool is not present in official Arch repo then we can try Arch Linux User Repo - AUR that has 60k more packages at your disposal to install using Rua. These are standard Arch packages, the only difference is that they are maintained by third-party users who might or might not be trusted.

Search and install a package from AUR repo:

  rua search monero # search for 'monero'
  rua install monero # install a package

3. From source code with Stow

And last, if your tool cannot be found in neither official Arch repo nor AUR then the last option is to install it from source code. But there is a catch: the classical ``configure, make, make install`` trinity works fine, the problem is the system pollution. After a while I find that I have hundreds of binaries installed in ``/usr/local/bin`` and I have no idea where they come from, let alone that a lot of tools do no provide an ``uninstall`` option and there is no easy way to clean up the system.

My solution is a combination of separate folder installation and a symlink manager called Stow. Lets take an example and install Libcaca from source code. ("caca" means poop in Romanian :), you might guess why I choose this lib to demo)

  • Configure with prefix and install into separate folder:

      ./configure --prefix=/usr/local/stow/libcaca

    After ``make, make install`` we end up with the following structure:

      ls -l /usr/local/stow/libcaca
    total 16
    drwxr-xr-x 2 icostan users 4096 Aug 31 08:12 bin
    drwxr-xr-x 2 icostan users 4096 Aug 31 08:12 include
    drwxr-xr-x 4 icostan users 4096 Aug 31 08:12 lib
    drwxr-xr-x 3 icostan users 4096 Aug 31 08:12 share
  • Stow (aka symlink) ``libcaca`` package into ``/usr/local/``:

      stow --dir=/usr/local/stow --target=/usr/local/ --stow libcaca

    After Stow-ing we have nice and clean ``/usr/local/bin`` folder with symlinks only.

      ls -l /usr/local/bin
    total 4
    lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 29 Aug 31 08:18 cacaclock -> ../stow/libcaca/bin/cacaclock
    lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 28 Aug 31 08:18 cacademo -> ../stow/libcaca/bin/cacademo
    lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 28 Aug 31 08:18 cacafire -> ../stow/libcaca/bin/cacafire
    lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 28 Aug 31 08:18 cacaplay -> ../stow/libcaca/bin/cacaplay
    lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 30 Aug 31 08:18 cacaserver -> ../stow/libcaca/bin/cacaserver
    lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 28 Aug 31 08:18 cacaview -> ../stow/libcaca/bin/cacaview

B. Query installed packages

1. Official packages

Search locally installed packages and show package info:

  pacman -Qs bitcoin # search local package database
  pacman -Qi bitcoin # local package info

And one of my favorite, list all files in a package or find package ownership:

  pacman -Ql bitcoin # list all files installed by bitcoin package
  pacman -Qo /usr/bin/bitcoind # find the package that owns the specified file

2. AUR packages

We can query for all packages that are installed with different package manager like Rua:

  pacman -Qm
brave-bin 0.68.132-1
create-react-native-app 1.0.0-3
exponent-exp 57.2.1-1
heroku-cli 7.29.0-1
ledger-live-bin 1.12.0-1
mackup 0.8.26-1
polybar 3.4.0-2
popcorntime-bin 0.3.10-5
react-native-cli 2.0.1-2
rua 0.14.6-2
vue-cli 3.11.0-1
vue-native-cli 0.0.2-1

3. From Source code

We can list Stow folder and see what we have installed:

  ls -l /usr/local/stow/
total 8
drwxr-xr-x 2 root users 4096 Sep 6 17:46 ihsec
drwxrwxr-x 6 root users 4096 Aug 31 08:12 libcaca

C. Cleaning

1. Official packages

Remove an installed package:

  pacman -R bitcoin

2. AUR packages

All packages installed with Rua are standard Pacman packages and can be easily removed:

  pacman -R mackup

3. From Source code

Cleaning up is as simple as:

  • un-stow (aka remove symlinks) from ``/usr/local``
  stow -R libcaca
  • delete the installation folder ``/usr/local/stow/libcaca``
And this is it, the easiest way to keep your Arch system clean all the time.