The pacman package manager is one of the major distinguishing features of Arch Linux. It combines a simple binary package format with an easy-to-use build system. The goal of pacman is to make it possible to easily manage packages, whether they are from the official repositories or the user's own builds.

pacman keeps the system up to date by synchronizing package lists with the master server. This server/client model also allows the user to download/install packages with a simple command, complete with all required dependencies.

pacman is written in the C programming language and uses the .pkg.tar.xz package format.

Tip: The pacman package contains other useful tools such as makepkg, pactree, vercmp, and checkupdates. Run pacman -Qlq pacman | grep bin to see the full list.



What follows is just a small sample of the operations that pacman can perform. To read more examples, refer to pacman(8).

Tip: For those who have used other Linux distributions before, there is a helpful Pacman Rosetta article.

Installing packages

Note: Packages often have a series of optional dependencies which are packages that provide additional functionality to the application, albeit not strictly required for running it. When installing a package, pacman will list its optional dependencies among the output messages, but they will not be found in pacman.log: use the pacman -Si command to view the optional dependencies of a package, together with short descriptions of their functionality.
Warning: When installing packages in Arch, avoid refreshing the package list without upgrading the system (for example, when a package is no longer found in the official repositories). In practice, do not run pacman -Sy package_name instead of pacman -Syu package_name, as this could lead to dependency issues. See System maintenance#Partial upgrades are unsupported and BBS#89328.

Installing specific packages

To install a single package or list of packages (including dependencies), issue the following command:

# pacman -S package_name1 package_name2 ...

To install a list of packages with regex (see this forum thread):

# pacman -S $(pacman -Ssq package_regex)

Sometimes there are multiple versions of a package in different repositories, e.g. extra and testing. To install the former version, the repository needs to be defined in front:

# pacman -S extra/package_name

To install a number of packages sharing similar patterns in their names -- not the entire group nor all matching packages; eg. plasma:

# pacman -S plasma-{desktop,mediacenter,nm}

Of course, that is not limited and can be expanded to however many levels needed:

# pacman -S plasma-{workspace{,-wallpapers},pa}

Installing package groups

Some packages belong to a group of packages that can all be installed simultaneously. For example, issuing the command:

# pacman -S gnome

will prompt you to select the packages from the gnome group that you wish to install.

Sometimes a package group will contain a large amount of packages, and there may be only a few that you do or do not want to install. Instead of having to enter all the numbers except the ones you do not want, it is sometimes more convenient to select or exclude packages or ranges of packages with the following syntax:

Enter a selection (default=all): 1-10 15

which will select packages 1 through 10 and 15 for installation, or:

Enter a selection (default=all): ^5-8 ^2

which will select all packages except 5 through 8 and 2 for installation.

To see what packages belong to the gnome group, run:

# pacman -Sg gnome

Also visit to see what package groups are available.

Note: If a package in the list is already installed on the system, it will be reinstalled even if it is already up to date. This behavior can be overridden with the --needed option.

Removing packages

To remove a single package, leaving all of its dependencies installed:

# pacman -R package_name

To remove a package and its dependencies which are not required by any other installed package:

# pacman -Rs package_name

To remove a package, its dependencies and all the packages that depend on the target package:

Warning: This operation is recursive, and must be used with care since it can remove many potentially needed packages.
# pacman -Rsc package_name

To remove a package, which is required by another package, without removing the dependent package:

# pacman -Rdd package_name

pacman saves important configuration files when removing certain applications and names them with the extension: .pacsave. To prevent the creation of these backup files use the -n option:

# pacman -Rn package_name
Note: pacman will not remove configurations that the application itself creates (for example "dotfiles" in the home folder).

Upgrading packages


pacman can update all packages on the system with just one command. This could take quite a while depending on how up-to-date the system is. The following command synchronizes the repository databases and updates the system's packages, excluding "local" packages that are not in the configured repositories:

# pacman -Syu

Querying package databases

pacman queries the local package database with the -Q flag; see:

$ pacman -Q --help

and queries the sync databases with the -S flag; see:

$ pacman -S --help

pacman can search for packages in the database, searching both in packages' names and descriptions:

$ pacman -Ss string1 string2 ...

Sometimes, -s's builtin ERE can cause a lot of unwanted results, so it has to be limited to match the package name only; not the description nor any other field:

$ pacman -Ss '^vim-'

To search for already installed packages:

$ pacman -Qs string1 string2 ...

To display extensive information about a given package:

$ pacman -Si package_name

For locally installed packages:

$ pacman -Qi package_name

Passing two -i flags will also display the list of backup files and their modification states:

$ pacman -Qii package_name

To retrieve a list of the files installed by a package:

$ pacman -Ql package_name

For packages not installed, use pkgfile.

To verify the presence of the files installed by a package:

$ pacman -Qk package_name

Passing the k flag twice will perform a more thorough check.

One can also query the database to know which package a file in the file system belongs to:

$ pacman -Qo /path/to/file_name

To list all packages no longer required as dependencies (orphans):

$ pacman -Qdt

To list all packages explicitly installed and not required as dependencies:

$ pacman -Qet

To list a dependency tree of a package:

$ pactree package_name

To list all the packages recursively depending on an installed package, use whoneeds from pkgtoolsAUR:

$ whoneeds package_name

or the reverse flag to pactree:

$ pactree -r package_name

See pacman tips for more examples.

Database structure

The pacman databases are normally located at /var/lib/pacman/sync. For each repository specified in /etc/pacman.conf there will be a corresponding database file located there. Database files are tar-gzipped archives containing one directory for each package, for example for the which package:

% tree which-2.20-6 
|-- depends
`-- desc

The depends file lists the packages this package depends on, while desc has a description of the package such as the file size and the MD5 hash.

Cleaning the package cache

pacman stores its downloaded packages in /var/cache/pacman/pkg/ and does not remove the old or uninstalled versions automatically, therefore it is necessary to deliberately clean up that folder periodically to prevent such folder to grow indefinitely in size.

The built-in option to remove all the cached packages that are not currently installed is:

# pacman -Sc
  • Only do this when certain that previous package versions are not required, for example for a later downgrade. pacman -Sc only leaves the versions of packages which are currently installed available, older versions would have to be retrieved through other means, such as the Archive.
  • It is possible to empty the cache folder fully with pacman -Scc. In addition to the above, this also prevents from reinstalling a package directly from the cache folder in case of need, thus requiring a new download. It should be avoided unless there is an immediate need for disk space.

Because of the above limitations, consider an alternative for more control over which packages, and how many, are deleted from the cache:

The paccache script, provided by the pacman package itself, deletes all cached versions of each package regardless of whether they're installed or not, except for the most recent 3, by default:

# paccache -r
Tip: You can create pacman hooks to run this automatically after every pacman transaction. See this thread for examples.

You can also define how many recent versions you want to keep:

# paccache -rk 1

To remove all cached versions of uninstalled packages, re-run paccache with:

# paccache -ruk0

See paccache -h for more options.

pkgcachecleanAUR and pacleanerAUR are two further alternatives.

Additional commands

Download a package without installing it:

# pacman -Sw package_name

Install a 'local' package that is not from a remote repository (e.g. the package is from the AUR):

# pacman -U /path/to/package/package_name-version.pkg.tar.xz

To keep a copy of the local package in pacman's cache, use:

# pacman -U file:///path/to/package/package_name-version.pkg.tar.xz

Install a 'remote' package (not from a repository stated in pacman's configuration files):

# pacman -U

To inhibit the -S, -U and -R actions, -p can be used.

pacman always lists packages to be installed or removed and asks for permission before it takes action.

Installation reason

The pacman database distinguishes the installed packages in two groups according to the reason why they were installed:

  • explicitly-installed: the packages that were literally passed to a generic pacman -S or -U command;
  • dependencies: the packages that, despite never (in general) having been passed to a pacman installation command, were implicitly installed because required by another package that was explicitly installed.

When installing a package, it is possible to force its installation reason to dependency with:

# pacman -S --asdeps package_name

When reinstalling a package, though, the current installation reason is preserved by default.

The list of explicitly-installed packages can be shown with pacman -Qe, while the complementary list of dependencies can be shown with pacman -Qd.

To change the installation reason of an already installed package, execute:

# pacman -D --asdeps package_name

Use --asexplicit to do the opposite operation.

Tip: Installing optional dependencies with --asdeps will cause it such that if you remove orphans, pacman will also remove leftover optional dependencies.

Search for a package that contains a specific file

Sync the files database:

# pacman -Fy

Search for a package containing a file, e.g.:

# pacman -Fs pacman
core/pacman 5.0.1-4
extra/xscreensaver 5.36-1
Tip: You can set a cron job or a systemd timer to sync the files database regularly.

For advanced functionality install pkgfile, which uses a separate database with all files and their associated packages.


pacman's settings are located in /etc/pacman.conf: this is the place where the user configures the program to work in the desired manner. In-depth information about the configuration file can be found in pacman.conf(5).

General options

General options are in the [options] section. Read pacman(8) or look in the default pacman.conf for information on what can be done here.

Comparing versions before updating

To see old and new versions of available packages, uncomment the "VerbosePkgLists" line in /etc/pacman.conf. The output of pacman -Syu will be like this:

Package (6)             Old Version  New Version  Net Change  Download Size

extra/libmariadbclient  10.1.9-4     10.1.10-1      0.03 MiB       4.35 MiB
extra/libpng            1.6.19-1     1.6.20-1       0.00 MiB       0.23 MiB
extra/mariadb           10.1.9-4     10.1.10-1      0.26 MiB      13.80 MiB

Skip package from being upgraded

Warning: Be careful in skipping packages, since partial upgrades are unsupported.

To have a specific package skipped when upgrading the system, specify it as such:


For multiple packages use a space-separated list, or use additional IgnorePkg lines. Also, glob patterns can be used. If you want to skip packages just once, you can also use the --ignore option on the command-line - this time with a comma-separated list.

It will still be possible to upgrade the ignored packages using pacman -S: in this case pacman will remind you that the packages have been included in an IgnorePkg statement.

Skip package group from being upgraded

Warning: Be careful in skipping package groups, since partial upgrades are unsupported.

As with packages, skipping a whole package group is also possible:


Skip files from being installed to system

To always skip installation of specific directories list them under NoExtract. For example, to avoid installation of systemd units use this:


Later rules override previous ones, and you can negate a rule by prepending !.

Tip: pacman issues warning messages about missing locales when updating a package for which locales have been cleared by localepurge or bleachbit. Commenting the CheckSpace option in pacman.conf suppresses such warnings, but consider that the space-checking functionality will be disabled for all packages.

Maintain several configuration files

If you have several configuration files (e.g. main configuration and configuration with testing repository enabled) and would have to share options between configurations you may use Include option declared in the configuration files, e.g.:

Include = /path/to/common/settings

where /path/to/common/settings file contains the same options for both configurations.


pacman can run pre- and post-transaction hooks from the /usr/share/libalpm/hooks/ directory; more directories can be specified with the HookDir option in pacman.conf, which defaults to /etc/pacman.d/hooks. Hook file names must be suffixed with .hook.

For more information on alpm hooks, see alpm-hooks(5).

Repositories and mirrors

Besides the special [options] section, each other [section] in pacman.conf defines a package repository to be used. A repository is a logical collection of packages, which are physically stored on one or more servers: for this reason each server is called a mirror for the repository.

Repositories are distinguished between official and unofficial. The order of repositories in the configuration file matters; repositories listed first will take precedence over those listed later in the file when packages in two repositories have identical names, regardless of version number. In order to use a repository after adding it, you will need to upgrade the whole system first.

Each repository section allows defining the list of its mirrors directly or in a dedicated external file through the Include directive: for example, the mirrors for the official repositories are included from /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist. See the Mirrors article for mirror configuration.

Package security

pacman supports package signatures, which add an extra layer of security to the packages. The default configuration, SigLevel = Required DatabaseOptional, enables signature verification for all the packages on a global level: this can be overridden by per-repository SigLevel lines. For more details on package signing and signature verification, take a look at pacman-key.


"Failed to commit transaction (conflicting files)" error

If you see the following error: [1]

error: could not prepare transaction
error: failed to commit transaction (conflicting files)
package: /path/to/file exists in filesystem
Errors occurred, no packages were upgraded.

Why this is happening: pacman has detected a file conflict, and by design, will not overwrite files for you. This is a design feature, not a flaw.

The problem is usually trivial to solve. A safe way is to first check if another package owns the file (pacman -Qo /path/to/file). If the file is owned by another package, file a bug report. If the file is not owned by another package, rename the file which 'exists in filesystem' and re-issue the update command. If all goes well, the file may then be removed.

If you had installed a program manually without using pacman or a frontend, for example through make install, you have to remove it and all its files and reinstall properly using pacman. See also Pacman tips#Identify files not owned by any package.

Every installed package provides a /var/lib/pacman/local/$package-$version/files file that contains metadata about this package. If this file gets corrupted, is empty or goes missing, it results in file exists in filesystem errors when trying to update the package. Such an error usually concerns only one package. Instead of manually renaming and later removing all the files that belong to the package in question, you may exceptionally run pacman -S --force $package to force pacman to overwrite these files.

Warning: Take care when using the --force switch (for example pacman -Syu --force) as it can cause major problems if used improperly. It is highly recommended to only use this option when the Arch news instructs the user to do so.

"Failed to commit transaction (invalid or corrupted package)" error

Look for .part files (partially downloaded packages) in /var/cache/pacman/pkg and remove them (often caused by usage of a custom XferCommand in pacman.conf).

# find /var/cache/pacman/pkg/ -iname "*.part" -exec rm {} \;

"Failed to init transaction (unable to lock database)" error

When pacman is about to alter the package database, for example installing a package, it creates a lock file at /var/lib/pacman/db.lck. This prevents another instance of pacman from trying to alter the package database at the same time.

If pacman is interrupted while changing the database, this stale lock file can remain. If you are certain that no instances of pacman are running then delete the lock file:

# rm /var/lib/pacman/db.lck

Packages cannot be retrieved on installation

This error manifests as Not found in sync db, Target not found or Failed retrieving file.

Firstly, ensure the package actually exists (and watch out for typos!). If certain the package exists, your package list may be out-of-date or your repositories may be incorrectly configured. Try running pacman -Syyu to force a refresh of all package lists and upgrade.

It could also be that the repository containing the package is not enabled on your system, e.g. the package could be in the multilib repository, but multilib is not enabled in your pacman.conf.

See also FAQ#Why is there only a single version of each shared library in the official repositories?.

Manually reinstalling pacman

Warning: It is extremely easy to break your system even worse using this approach. Use this only as a last resort if the method from #pacman crashes during an upgrade is not an option.

Even if pacman is terribly broken, you can fix it manually by downloading the latest packages and extracting them to the correct locations. The rough steps to perform are

  1. Determine dependencies to install
  2. Download each package from a mirror of your choice
  3. Extract each package to root
  4. Reinstall these packages with pacman -Sf to update the package database accordingly
  5. Do a full system upgrade

If you have a healthy Arch system on hand, you can see the full list of dependencies with

$ pacman -Q $(pactree -u pacman)

but you may only need to update a few of them depending on your issue. An example of extracting a package is

# tar -xvpwf package.tar.xz -C / --exclude .PKGINFO --exclude .INSTALL

Note the use of the w flag for interactive mode. Running non-interactively is very risky since you might end up overwriting an important file. Also take care to extract packages in the correct order (i.e. dependencies first). This forum post contains an example of this process where only a couple pacman dependencies are broken.

pacman crashes during an upgrade

In the case that pacman crashes with a "database write" error while removing packages, and reinstalling or upgrading packages fails thereafter, do the following:

  1. Boot using the Arch installation media. Preferably use a recent media so that the pacman version matches/is newer than the system.
  2. Mount the system's root filesystem, e.g. mount /dev/sdaX /mnt as root, and check the mount has sufficient space with df -h
  3. If the system uses default database and directory locations, you can now update the system's pacman database and upgrade it via pacman --root=/mnt --cachedir=/mnt/var/cache/pacman/pkg -Syyu as root.
  4. After the upgrade, one way to double-check for not upgraded but still broken packages: find /mnt/usr/lib -size 0
  5. Followed by a re-install of any still broken package via pacman --root /mnt --cachedir=/mnt/var/cache/pacman/pkg -S package.

"Unable to find root device" error after rebooting

Most likely your initramfs got broken during a kernel update (improper use of pacman's --force option can be a cause). You have two options; first, try the Fallback entry.

Tip: In case you removed the Fallback entry, you can always press the Tab key when the bootloader menu shows up (for Syslinux) or e (for GRUB or systemd-boot), rename it initramfs-linux-fallback.img and press Enter or b (depending on your bootloader) to boot with the new parameters.

Once the system starts, run this command (for the stock linux kernel) either from the console or from a terminal to rebuild the initramfs image:

# mkinitcpio -p linux

If that does not work, from a current Arch release (CD/DVD or USB stick), mount your root and boot partitions. Then chroot using arch-chroot:

# arch-chroot /mnt
# pacman -Syu mkinitcpio systemd linux
  • If you do not have a current release or if you only have some other "live" Linux distribution laying around, you can chroot using the old fashioned way. Obviously, there will be more typing than simply running the arch-chroot script.
  • If pacman fails with Could not resolve host, please check your internet connection.
  • If you cannot enter the arch-chroot or chroot environment but need to re-install packages you can use the command pacman -r /mnt -Syu foo bar to use pacman on your root partition.

Reinstalling the kernel (the linux package) will automatically re-generate the initramfs image with mkinitcpio -p linux. There is no need to do this separately.

Afterwards, it is recommended that you run exit, umount /mnt/{boot,} and reboot.

Signature from "User <>" is unknown trust, installation failed

You can try to either:

Request on importing PGP keys

If installing Arch with an outdated ISO, you are likely prompted to import PGP keys. Agree to download the key to proceed. If you are unable to add the PGP key successfully, update the keyring or upgrade archlinux-keyring (see above).

Signature from "User <>" is invalid, installation failed

When the system time is faulty, signing keys are considered expired (or invalid) and signature checks on packages will fail with the following error:

error: package: signature from "User <>" is invalid
error: failed to commit transaction (invalid or corrupted package (PGP signature))
Errors occured, no packages were upgraded.

Make sure to correct the time, for example with ntpd -qg run as root, and run hwclock -w as root before subsequent installations or upgrades.

"Warning: current locale is invalid; using default "C" locale" error

As the error message says, your locale is not correctly configured. See Locale.

pacman does not honor proxy settings

Make sure that the relevant environment variables ($http_proxy, $ftp_proxy etc.) are set up. If you use pacman with sudo, you need to configure sudo to pass these environment variables to pacman.

How do I reinstall all packages, retaining information on whether something was explicitly installed or as a dependency?

To reinstall all the native packages: pacman -Qnq | pacman -S - (the -S option preserves the installation reason by default).

You will then need to reinstall all the foreign packages, which can be listed with pacman -Qmq.

"Cannot open shared object file" error

It looks like previous pacman transaction removed or corrupted shared libraries needed for pacman itself.

To recover from this situation you need to unpack required libraries to your filesystem manually. First find what package contains the missed library and then locate it in the pacman cache (/var/cache/pacman/pkg/). Unpack required shared library to the filesystem. This will allow to run pacman.

Now you need to reinstall the broken package. Note that you need to use --force flag as you just unpacked system files and pacman does not know about it. pacman will correctly replace our shared library file with one from package.

That's it. Update the rest of the system.

Freeze of package downloads

Some issues have been reported regarding network problems that prevent pacman from updating/synchronizing repositories. [2] [3] When installing Arch Linux natively, these issues have been resolved by replacing the default pacman file downloader with an alternative (see Improve pacman performance for more details). When installing Arch Linux as a guest OS in VirtualBox, this issue has also been addressed by using Host interface instead of NAT in the machine properties.

Failed retrieving file 'core.db' from mirror

If you receive this error message with correct mirrors, try setting a different name server.

See also