Arch package guidelines

When building packages for Arch Linux, adhere to the package guidelines below, especially if the intention is to contribute a new package to Arch Linux. You should also see the PKGBUILD(5) and manpages.

PKGBUILD prototype

# Maintainer: Your Name <>
md5sums=() #autofill using updpkgsums

build() {
  cd "$pkgname-$pkgver"

  ./configure --prefix=/usr

package() {
  cd "$pkgname-$pkgver"

  make DESTDIR="$pkgdir/" install

Other prototypes are found in from the package.

Package etiquette

  • Packages should never be installed to
  • Do not introduce new variables or functions into build scripts, unless the package cannot be built without doing so, as these could possibly conflict with variables and functions used in makepkg itself.
  • If a new variable or a new function is absolutely required, prefix its name with an underscore (_), e.g.
  • Avoid using for anything. Use instead.
  • The packager field from the package meta file can be customized by the package builder by modifying the appropriate option in the file, or alternatively override it by creating .
  • Do not use makepkg subroutines (e.g. , , , plain, ) as they might change at any time. To print data, use or .
  • All important messages should be echoed during install using an .install file. For example, if a package needs extra setup to work, directions should be included.
  • Dependencies are the most common packaging error. Please take the time to verify them carefully, for example by running on dynamic executables, checking tools required by scripts or looking at the documentation of the software. The namcap utility can help you in this regard. This tool can analyze both PKGBUILD and the resulting package tarball and will warn you about bad permissions, missing dependencies, redundant dependencies, and other common mistakes.
  • Any optional dependencies that are not needed to run the package or have it generally function should not be included in the depends array; instead the information should be added to the optdepends array:
The above example is taken from the package. The optdepends information is automatically printed out on installation/upgrade so one should not keep this kind of information in .install files.
  • When creating a package description for a package, do not include the package name in a self-referencing way. For example, "Nedit is a text editor for X11" could be simplified to "A text editor for X11". Also try to keep the descriptions to ~80 characters or less.
  • Try to keep the line length in the PKGBUILD below ~100 characters.
  • Where possible, remove empty lines from the (, , etc.)
  • It is common practice to preserve the order of the fields as shown above. However, this is not mandatory, as the only requirement in this context is correct bash syntax.
  • Quote variables which may contain spaces, such as and "$srcdir".
  • To ensure the integrity of packages, make sure that the integrity variables contain correct values. These can be updated using the tool.

Package naming

  • Package names can contain only alphanumeric characters and any of , , _, , . Names are not allowed to start with hyphens or dots. All letters should be lowercase.
  • Package names should not be suffixed with the upstream major release version number (e.g. we do not want libfoo2 if upstream calls it libfoo v2.3.4) in case the library and its dependencies are expected to be able to keep using the most recent library version with each respective upstream release. However, for some software or dependencies, this can not be assumed. In the past this has been especially true for widget toolkits such as GTK and Qt. Software that depends on such toolkits can usually not be trivially ported to a new major version. As such, in cases where software can not trivially keep rolling alongside its dependencies, package names should carry the major version suffix (e.g. gtk2, gtk3, qt4, qt5). For cases where most dependencies can keep rolling along the newest release but some cannot (for instance closed source that needs libpng12 or similar), a deprecated version of that package might be called libfoo1 while the current version is just libfoo.

Package versioning

  • Package versions (i.e. PKGBUILD#pkgver) should be the same as the version released by the author. Versions can include letters if need be (eg, nmap's version is ). Version tags may not include hyphens! Letters, numbers, and periods only.
  • Package releases (i.e. PKGBUILD#pkgrel) are specific to Arch Linux packages. These allow users to differentiate between newer and older package builds. When a new package version is first released, the release count starts at 1. Then as fixes and optimizations are made, the package will be re-released to the Arch Linux public and the release number will increment. When a new version comes out, the release count resets to 1. Package release tags follow the same naming restrictions as version tags.

Package dependencies

Package relations

  • Do not add $pkgname to PKGBUILD#provides, as it is always implicitely provided by the package.
  • List all external shared libraries of a package in PKGBUILD#provides (e.g. ''). To identify them (part of ) can be used.

Package sources

  • HTTPS sources ( for tarballs, for git sources) should be used wherever possible
  • Sources should be verified using PGP signatures wherever possible (this might entail building from a git tag instead of a source tarball, if upstream signs commits and tags but not the tarballs)
  • When building from a git tag, use its object hash obtained from instead of the tag name:
An example for this approach can be found in the package. The reason for this practice is that tags can be force pushed to change the commit that they are pointing to, which would alter the built package. Using the tag object hash ensures the integrity of the sources because force pushing the tag changes its hash. Using a function prevents accidentally bumping without updating _tag as well.
  • Do not diminish the security or validity of a package (e.g. by removing a checksum check or by removing PGP signature verification), because an upstream release is broken or suddenly lacks a certain feature (e.g. PGP signature missing for a new release)
  • Sources have to be unique in (this might require renaming them when downloading, e.g. )
  • Avoid using specific mirrors (e.g. on sourceforge) to download, as they might become unavailable

Working with upstream

It is considered best-practice to work closely with upstream wherever possible. This entails reporting problems about building and testing a package.

  • Report problems to upstream right away.
  • Upstream patches wherever possible.
  • Add comments with links to relevant (upstream) bug tracker tickets in the PKGBUILD (this is particularly important, as it ensures, that other packagers can understand changes and work with a package as well).

It is recommended to track upstream with tools such as or urlwatch to be informed about new stable releases.


  • Configuration files should be placed in the directory. If there is more than one configuration file, it is customary to use a subdirectory in order to keep the area as clean as possible. Use where is the name of the package (or a suitable alternative, eg, apache uses ).
  • Package files should follow these general directory guidelines:
System-essential configuration files
/usr/lib Libraries
Header files
Modules, plugins, etc.
Application documentation
GNU Info system files
/usr/share/licenses/pkg Application licenses
Application data
Persistent application storage
Configuration files for pkg
/opt/pkg Large self-contained packages
  • Packages should not contain any of the following directories:
    • /root
    • /sys

Makepkg duties

When makepkg is used to build a package, it does the following automatically:

  1. Checks if package dependencies and makedepends are installed
  2. Downloads source files from servers
  3. Checks the integrity of source files
  4. Unpacks source files
  5. Does any necessary patching
  6. Builds the software and installs it in a fake root
  7. Strips symbols from binaries
  8. Strips debugging symbols from libraries
  9. Compresses manual and/or info pages
  10. Generates the package meta file which is included with each package
  11. Compresses the fake root into the package file
  12. Stores the package file in the configured destination directory (i.e. the current working directory by default)


The array should contain if the compiled package is architecture-specific. Otherwise, use for architecture independent packages.


See PKGBUILD#license.

Reproducible builds

Arch is working on making all packages reproducible. A packager can check if a package is reproducible with from or repro from .

$ makerepropkg $pkgname-1-1-any.pkg.tar.zst


$ repro -f $pkgname-1-1-any.pkg.tar.zst

Additional guidelines

Be sure to read the above guidelines first - important points are listed on this page that will not be repeated in the following guideline pages. These specific guidelines are intended as an addition to the standards listed on this page.

Packages submitted to the AUR must additionally comply with AUR submission guidelines.

This article is issued from Archlinux. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.