Luke Shumaker » blog » pacman-overview

A quick overview of usage of the Pacman package manager

This was originally published on Hacker News on 2013-01-23.

Note: I’ve over-done quotation marks to make it clear when precise wording matters.

pacman is a little awkward, but I prefer it to apt/dpkg, which have sub-commands, each with their own flags, some of which are undocumented. pacman, on the other hand, has ALL options documented in one fairly short man page.

The trick to understanding pacman is to understand how it maintains databases of packages, and what it means to “sync”.

There are several “databases” that pacman deals with:

The “operation” of pacman is set with a capital flag, one of “DQRSTU” (plus -V and -h for version and help). Of these, “DTU” are “low-level” (analogous to dpkg) and “QRS” are “high-level” (analogous to apt).

To give a brief explanation of cover the “high-level” operations, and which databases they deal with:

The biggest “gotcha” is that “S” deals with all operations with “package databases”, not just syncing “the database” with them.