Graphical Frontends for Pacman in Arch Linux

Graphical Frontends for Pacman

As you may know already, Pacman, stands for Package Manager, is the default CLI package manager for Arch Linux and its derivatives. Working with Pacman is pretty simple and straight forward. However, some of you might want Graphical package manager like Synaptic package manager or GNOME software. These GUI package managers makes package installation and uninstallation tasks much easier for newbies and intermediate Linux users. If you ever in need of GUI package managers for Arch Linux and its derivatives, there are two GUI front-ends for Pacman available, namely:

  1. tkPacman
  2. Pamac manager

There are few other frontends also available. But, I find the aforementioned tools are much easier in terms of installation and usage.

Let us get started.

1. tkPacman

tkPacman is light weight, graphical frontend for Pacman package manager. It is built using Tcl/Tk, so it will work on most window managers and desktop environments.

tkPacman is not available in the official repositories. You can install it from AUR. To install packages from AUR, you must add any one of the following pacman wrappers.

Yaourt and Packer are used to install packages from AUR repositories. Please note that you don’t have to install both tools. Just use any one.

To install tkPacman, run:

yaourt -S tkpacman

Or

packer -S tkpacman

Sample out[put:

Aur Targets (1): tkpacman
Pacman Targets (1): tk

Proceed with installation? [Y/n] y
[sudo] password for sk: 
resolving dependencies...
looking for conflicting packages...

Packages (1) tk-8.6.5-1

Total Download Size: 1.74 MiB
Total Installed Size: 4.12 MiB

:: Proceed with installation? [Y/n] y
:: Retrieving packages...
 tk-8.6.5-1-x86_64 1779.0 KiB 119K/s 00:15 [##########] 100%
(1/1) checking keys in keyring [##########] 100%
(1/1) checking package integrity [##########] 100%
(1/1) loading package files [##########] 100%
(1/1) checking for file conflicts [##########] 100%
(1/1) checking available disk space [##########] 100%
:: Processing package changes...
(1/1) installing tk [##########] 100%
:: Running post-transaction hooks...
(1/1) Updating manpage index...
Edit tkpacman PKGBUILD with $EDITOR? [Y/n] n
==> Making package: tkpacman 1.6.1-1 (Mon Jul 18 17:07:19 IST 2016)
==> Checking runtime dependencies...
==> Checking buildtime dependencies...
==> Retrieving sources...
 -> Downloading tkpacman-1.6.1.tar.gz...
 % Total % Received % Xferd Average Speed Time Time Time Current
 Dload Upload Total Spent Left Speed
 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:- 0 355 0 0 0 0 0 0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:-- 0
 48 61976 48 29738 0 0 17346 0 0:00:03 0:00:01 0:0100 61976 100 61976 0 0 32110 0 0:00:01 0:00:01 --:--:-- 146k
==> Validating source files with md5sums...
 tkpacman-1.6.1.tar.gz ... Passed
==> Extracting sources...
 -> Extracting tkpacman-1.6.1.tar.gz with bsdtar
==> Entering fakeroot environment...
==> Starting package()...
==> Tidying install...
 -> Removing libtool files...
 -> Purging unwanted files...
 -> Removing static library files...
 -> Stripping unneeded symbols from binaries and libraries...
 -> Compressing man and info pages...
==> Checking for packaging issue...
==> Creating package "tkpacman"...
 -> Generating .PKGINFO file...
 -> Generating .BUILDINFO file...
 -> Generating .MTREE file...
 -> Compressing package...
==> Leaving fakeroot environment.
==> Finished making: tkpacman 1.6.1-1 (Mon Jul 18 17:07:23 IST 2016)
loading packages...
resolving dependencies...
looking for conflicting packages...

Packages (1) tkpacman-1.6.1-1

Total Installed Size: 0.21 MiB

:: Proceed with installation? [Y/n] y
[...]

When Packer or Yaourt ask you to edit tkpacman PKGBUILD with any editor, just press ‘n’ to continue the installation.

That’s it. tkPacman has been installed.

tkPacman usage

Launch tkPacman. The default interface should look like below.

tkPacman1

As you can see in the above screenshot, tkPacman is somewhat similar to Ubuntu’s synaptic package manager.

To optimize the pacman database, go to Pacman -> Optimize pacman database from the top menu bar.

tkPacman2

You will be asked to enter the root user password of your Arch system.

tkPacman-Run-as-root

To clean the local cache, go to Pacman -> Clean cache from the top menu bar. You have two options here. You can either remove all packages from the cache or only the packages that are no longer installed.

tkPacman-Clean-cache

Enter the root password to clean cache.

tkPacman-Run-as-root1

Search packages

You can search packages in the left pane. Just enter the package name you want to search in the Filters section, select the group name or select the repository from the respective drop-down lists. It will then display the package details on the right side.

tkPacman3

Install packages

From the tkPacman main interface, you will see the all available packages and installed packages in two separate tabs.

tkPacman4

As you see in the above screenshot, Available packages section will display both installed and non-installed packages. The installed packages will be marked in green color and the non-installed packages will be marked in black color. Also, you can view the currently installed packages from the Installed packages tab.

To install the package, just right click on the package of your choice and Mark/Unmark. Finally click Apply changes on the tool bar. Enter the root user password. That’s it. The selected package will be installed on your Arch system.

Install packages from local file

tkPacman has an useful option to install the packages which are already downloaded in your local drive.

Once you downloaded the package, go to Pacman -> Install local package from the top menu bar or click Local Package on the Tool bar. Then, select the location where you have the downloaded .pkg.tar.xz file.

tkPacman5

Please note that your Arch system should be connected with Internet in order to download and install dependencies.

System upgrade

Click System Upgrade button from the tool bar.

tkPacman6

A new window will open. Enter the root user password to continue.

Your Arch system will upgrade to the latest available version.

As you can see, the look and functionality of tkPacman is almost similar to Synaptic package manager which is the default GUI package manager for Ubuntu and its derivatives.

2. Pamac Manager

Pamac manager is another GUI frontend for Pacman with complete AUR support. That means that you can have both official packages from Arch repositories and un-official packages from AUR. The AUR repository is community driven repository that can be used to install packages which are not available in the official Arch Linux repositories.

Like tkPacman, you need to install Yaourt or Packer as mentioned in the above links to install Pamac manager from AUR.

After installing either Packer or Yaourt, run the following command to install Pamac as shown below.

packer -S pamac-aur

Sample output:

Aur Targets (1): pamac-aur
 Pacman Targets (2): itstool vala

Proceed with installation? [Y/n] y

Pamac usage

Launch Pamac manager from Menu. Mostly it will available as Add/Remove programs (To install/remove packages) or Software update (To update the Arch system) in the Systems Tools category in your Arch Linux. The look and functionality of Pamac is slightly different from tkPacman. The default interface of Pamac will look like below.

pamac-manager1

As you can see in the above screenshot, the interface is divided into four categories.

  1. Search – Search and install a package using its name.
  2. Groups – Install packages from a group such as base, base-devel, and gnome etc.
  3. State – View installed, pending, and orphan packages.
  4. Repositories – Install packages from a specific repositories such as Core, Community, and extra etc.

Enable AUR support

One of the unique properties of this tool is we can enable AUR. To do so, click on the three parallel lines on the top right corner. Then click Preferences button.

pamac-manager2

In the next window, click AUR tab and move the slider option to forward or back to enable and disable AUR repository.

pamac-manager3

Now, you will be able to install packages from AUR repository.

Conclusion

You know now how to install and use Pacman frontends in Arch Linux. I will be adding more Pacman frontends if I find anything useful in the days to come. Please bookmark this link and keep coming back to see more updates.

That’s all for now. Hope this helps. If you find our guides useful, please share them on your social, professional networks and support OSTechNix.

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