Some general thoughts on pacman


I have been using EOS for almost three months now, on x86-64 and ARM architectures. I had never tried Arch before and now I must confirm the very good impressions I had initially: fast, very rich in software and stable enough for my needs.

However, in my opinion, Arch has a weakness where its strength lies: package management.
I mean, I really like pacman: it is fast, efficient and you only have to learn a few argument combinations to use it from the terminal, without having to install octopi or (the infamous?) pamac.

However, it has two annoying problems.

  1. Manual mirror maintenance is too frequent.
  2. Sometimes I have to manually merge configuration files (pacnew and pacsave).

Regarding these two points, the comparison with apt is ruthless. Whenever it happened that an update risked overwriting a modified configuration file, apt always asked me what to do: overwrite, compare contents, keep the old file,… And in many years of Debian/Ubuntu, I have never been forced to update mirrors manually. I have never had an Ubuntu mirror configuration that worked yesterday and is unusable today.

All of this is missing from Arch/EOS package management, and my feeling is that it would take very little effort to greatly improve overall usability.

Am I the only one feeling these little annoyances or have I misunderstood Arch’s philosophy?


You should not have to modify mirrors very often. I update my mirrors every 6 months or so. Something is wrong if you are constantly needing to update your mirrors.

.pacsave files are created when you remove a package with a file in the backup array that you have modified so those really shouldn’t happen very often. Even when they do, they don’t require you to take any action.

.pacnew files are more common. However, 98% of the time they can be ignored. Personally, I ignore them unless something breaks or I know of a major change. I would say I need to deal with a .pacnew file once per year or less.

I feel just the opposite. This has always annoyed me about apt don’t ask me questions at the end of the upgrade process. Pacman generally does the right thing by default. If you have changed the file, it creates a .pacnew, if not it just overwrites it.


You could always write an alias that updates mirrors first, then updates the system. There are lots of examples online and here too.

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You could do that but constantly switching mirrors is more likely to hurt than to help unless you have a very unique situation with your internet.(i.e. If you are highly mobile and constantly switching your network location in a substantial way).

I agree. It should only be needed for specific situations, like the one you laid out. Other than that, it’s overkill. But it does sound like its an issue for OP, so maybe it will help.

1-2x per year max, and you probably don’t even really need to do that if you have a 15-25 mirror list in your config.

While I don’t know about apt - Fedora/dnf you have to do this too. It’s surely not a limitation to pacman.

This is the case for me too. However, when I lived in rural India (a few years ago), I sometimes faced problems like @mzaniboni has described. Using rate-mirrors helped me a lot. When I was visiting this winter, it seemed to have improved though. But there might still be places where connection to nearby mirrors are flaky/unreliable.



Arch assumes you are to take care of your own computer - EOS has a mirrorlist updater built into the welcome app. Someone also wrote a handy guide for updating which makes things so simple even @fbodymechanic can figure it out.

You are missing the philosophy a little. With Arch - the journey of install is greater than the outcome. You can just install and use lots of Linux distros. Arch you’re to be the master of your own system. You should know how you setup your computer and what your computer does. So, maintenance is the same. EDIT - That being said - EOS is not Arch, it’s Arch-based.


I’m not a huge fan of pacman. Coming from Solus, I feel like the eopkg package manager is much more user friendly, fast, and more approachable than pacman. I have a great dislike of apt. Pacman’s syntax makes no sense to me, but I’m leaning it and trying not to set aliases for everything. Learning the system and the “arch” way is part of the journey.

If you really want to have fun with packages, there’s always Slackware.

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I think Pacman is at least as good luggage manager as Apt. I used Debian for a long time before Arch Linux, so I can easily compare the two. I may have been forced to change the mirror a couple of times during more than three years of use. I also had to do it because the local mirror was unattainable at that time. Did you think that in such cases, Pacman would automatically switch to the fastest access mirrors?

I disagree, that other one was the most counterintuitive I had the misfortune of using in a terminal. Checks to see if there’s enough space on the ESP to do its crap and then quits if it doesn’t like it. Nope.

I hated pacman, and I’m still not comfortable using it so I have to pick up tips and tricks from this forum and other places. A short time ago I played around with Archbang which is causing me to do without the comforts of a GUI enviroment and “set and forget” and “expected places”. Something that I used to see from Calamares install log scrolling up and down the screen, I had to actually do at the terminal, according to the Archbang “guide”. At first I was touchy about getting the “archlinux-keyring” along with updating databases and doing full system upgrade because I remembered the first few times Manjaro first downloaded the “archlinux-keyring” first of all, processed it and then did full system upgrade.

I wish “pacman -Ss” didn’t require “root” password, I think “-Qs” switch is useless by comparison. That’s the only outstanding draw I have with these options which look like the old M$ C-compiler days on MS-DOS/OS-2 where they used forward slashes instead of hyphens at the beginning of options. :slight_smile:

pacman is utterly unintuitive so I can see where you are coming from. I think it is pretty fast though. I think sometimes it seems slower because Arch uses, fewer, larger packages than many other distros.


Arch’s strength is it’s package management. I think you are totally wrong on this.

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pacman -Ss ...

does not require root password (unless you have aliased it to do so), it simply searches package info from the online repos.

pacman -Qs ...

on the other hand searches package info from the local system.

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pacman is the best pacage manager.

I have used apt, apt-get, yum, dnf and whatnot and there is no comparison - pacman shines.

I agree with @Root I’ve gone around the Linux world. I prefer pacman over others. I think they changed apt-get to be more similar to padman (I might be wrong).

To each their own I suppose. I started my (full adoption) Linux journey basically all GUI with Elementary. Then switched to Mint, Pop!, Ubuntu, Peppermint, and Zorin. I dabbled with apt some, but mostly stuck with GUI tools. It wasn’t until I got on Solus that I really dived into the CLI. That may be why I felt so comfortable with it. It’s also where I began building packages, building from source, and using the CLI first over a GUI application.
Manjaro was my first arch based, that lasted about 3 days and only in a VM on Solus. It wasn’t until Endeavour Artemis Neo that I made the full jump to arch based. I still haven’t done it “the arch way” yet as I don’t think I’m fully prepared to make that leap.

Arch’s strength is it’s package management. I think you are totally wrong on this.

Well, overall I like it, that’s my opinion. It’s fast, I like the frequent updates and it seems so efficient compared to apt and yum/rpm, the other package managers I’ve used in the past. Ok, it has a weird syntax, but that doesn’t shock me.

Thank you for your replies. I realise that I did not fully explain (and I already knew the meaning of the existence of the pacsave and pacnew files).
I just wanted to say that, after a few months of use, the only thing that bothers me about the Arch world at the moment is the package management. It is nothing unmanageable, it is just more cumbersome to manage compared to my experience with other distributions.
In particular, regarding mirrors and their variability over time, perhaps the Arch maintainers could develop some centralised automated mechanisms to automatically propagate URL changes. (If the word “centralised” offends you, there are also possible distributed solutions). And ranking mirrors by speed (and possibly disabling them if they don’t respond) could also be automatically built into pacman.

This is already done by other people IINM. I hope it never comes from the Arch Linux developers themselves because it would be the beginning of the end. Look what has happened to Debian… some things start out great and then steadily become a routine, slower, larger etc. It can’t be helped already while the Linux kernel itself grows to an impressive size, c. 175MiB packaged for Linux v6.2, while it was less than half that at the v5.15 “still popular heavily patched” by a few distros.

Almost forgot to add, I worked a bit also with “cards” from Nutyx. Nothing special there but the misspellings are annoying. :eyes: