The problem with pacman

The default package manager of Arch Linux and its derivatives, pacman, is quite nice. Installing packages from the official repos is often quite simple once you learn a few commands.

Another nice feature of Arch Linux is the AUR, which is a huge repository of community-maintained packages. The AUR has allowed me to install nearly everything on my laptop using the package manager, allowing me to benefit from simple package installation, uninstallation, and updates. On many other Linux distros, while most popular apps are in the repositories, you still wind up having to install multiple packages manually whenever you want to install something less common; keeping track of manual packages can get frustrating, as you do not get the benefits of automatic updates, and installing and uninstalling them is not the most straightforward process. The AUR is the primary reason I use Arch-based Linux distros.

However, all is not perfect. Not by default, anyway.

First of all, pacman is a command-line app. Of course, that is exactly what it is supposed to be, and CLI apps will always be useful in many situations (how else would you install packages when you were not using a desktop environment), but I am sure most people would agree that a CLI app is not the ideal way to install and update applications.

Second, pacman can not directly install packages from the AUR. You have to use makepkg to install those packages. This is also far from ideal, and is definitely not as smooth of a process as installing apps from the official repositories.

Thankfully, there is a solution to both of these problems.

Meet Pamac

Pamac is a GUI front-end for libalpm, the ALPM library. It allows you to easily browse, install, uninstall, and update packages from not only the official repos, but also the AUR. It is a fantastic application originally developed for the Arch Linux derivative, Manjaro, though it works in mainline Arch Linux and Antergos as well.

Speaking of Antergos and Manjaro, both of those distros come with Pamac installed, so if you are using those distros then there is probably no reason to be reading this article. But Arch Linux itself does not have this app installed by default or even in the official repos, so you will have to install it from the AUR, and as stated earlier, this is not the simplest of procedures.

The actual installation guide

Now that I have explained why you would want Pamac, it is time to actually show you how to install it.

Install the base-devel package group and git if you haven’t already.

sudo pacman -Syyu base-devel git

Clone the Pamac PKGBUILD and build dependencies into a newly-created temporary folder under your home directory.

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/pamac-aur.git ~/tempfolder

Build and install Pamac.

sudo makepkg -sic BUILDDIR="~/tempfolder"

Delete the temporary folder created earlier.

rm -r ~/tempfolder

And that is it! You have now installed Pamac. To enable AUR support, open Pamac and navigate to the options (the button next to the search), then to PreferencesAUR and enable Enable AUR support. I also recommend installing pamac-tray-appindicator if you are using KDE Plasma as your desktop environment to get a nice tray icon for Pamac.

Useful additional resources