Arch Linux is very unique. For starters, you can build it yourself. You can take your operating system and build it bit by bit. Make it truly your own. Another thing that Arch has that is really unique is the Arch User Repository. What’s the AUR? It allows users to make their own PKGBUILD scripts and create packages that are not included inside the official repositories.
How do you use the AUR? Well, you could do what a lot of people do and download the PKGBUILD and then compile it. However, some people don’t prefer to do it that way. That’s where AUR clients (or AUR helpers) come in. They make installing PKGBUILDs super easy.
There are quite a few helpers out there, and because of that we’ve decided to make a list of 5 great AUR clients.
Note: these programs can be installed by going to the Arch Linux website, searching for the program, downloading it and installing it.
Yaourt (Yet AnOther User Repository Tool) is usually the tool everyone uses when it comes to AUR helpers. This tool is command-line based (like many on this list). If you’re new to Arch Linux, you might want to consider using Yaourt. It has a lot of niceties. For example: with a certain command you’ll be able to update both your main Arch Linux repositories as well as all of your AUR packages in one go. This is very convenient, not to mention that it’s the easiest to get running (all you need to do is edit your pacman.conf file and add a new repository) and you’ll be able to install it.
A long time ago, when I was new to Arch Linux, I was told to use Yaourt. For a while I liked it, but then (for some reason) I stopped being happy with it. After that, I decided to switch to Packer. I’ve been super happy with it and I never looked back. Why?
Well, for starters, the syntax Packer uses is exactly the same as pacman, so you won’t get confused. Another great thing about Packer is that it’s really fast and works fairly quickly. There’s not really much else to say about it. It’s a simplistic program that does one thing really well. It installs AUR PKGBUILDS and updates them.
Not interested in Packer but still looking for something lightweight? Check out Trizen. It’s an AUR helper written in Perl instead of Bash (which gives it some serious power), not to mention the easy-to-understand syntax packed full with features and the speed in which it installs packages is more than satisfactory. It’s great.
Speed isn’t the only thing Trizen has going. Since the program is written in Perl instead of Bash, it is impossible to execute code silently, thus increasing the overall security of installing packages from the Arch User Repository.
This program isn’t as well known as most of the others on this list, but it’s definitely worth a shot.
Pacaur is an AUR helper that uses cower as a backend. It’s one of the more complex Arch User Repository helpers, and is commonly picked by advanced users looking to completely automate repetitive tasks. For example: Do you have a ton of AUR packages installed? Are you dreading having to sit at the keyboard entering options? With this you’ll be able to just enter your password and tell the program everything it needs to know. After that everything is smooth sailing.
Another great thing about Pacaur, is (like Packer) it uses the exact same syntax as pacman. This means you’ll mostly understand how it works right out of the gate! If you’re looking for a command-line AUR helper that is a bit more advanced, consider checking out Pacaur.
Most AUR helpers are command-line based, and that’s great. Most people that use Arch generally feel the most comfortable when using programs inside a bash terminal window. However, not everyone wants a command line tool. Some people would rather have a great GUI tool to use.
Enter PacmanXG, a graphical manager for pacman. It’s a useful tool, and it doesn’t just interact with the AUR. You’ll be able to install regular packages from the main Arch Linux repository as well. This is very, very handy.
This tool is just about perfect for users that prefer to install packages in a more hands-off way. For instance: do you want to install a ton of stuff from the AUR? Just search for all the programs you want, select them, enter your password and just wait for everything to install.
Arch Linux is my favorite operating system. Why? Well, I have a lot of reasons, but the one that always stands out the most is the Arch User Repository. The whole idea of it is fascinating. How many other Linux distributions have a whole area dedicated to community software?
If you’re new to Arch, you’re in for a treat. Just pick a client from this list and get going!