A wrapper script for Arch Linux's pacman that enforces good discipline
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This is yet another wrapper script for pacman, the package manager of Arch Linux and its various derivatives. Unlike other wrappers, this script does not aim to make up for any perceived shortcomings in the functionality of pacman. Instead, it aims to make up for shortcomings in the users of pacman. The goal of pacnanny is to make it even harder to mess up with pacman by making sure that you do not miss anything important.


pacnanny automatically does the following:

  • Before doing a system update, check for new Arch Linux news items since the last update and display them one at a time in the browser of your choosing (w3m by default). There is no confirmation. Your eyeballs are required to look at the news.
  • Reprint all scriptlet messages together after an update is completed.
  • Reprint all warnings again together after an update is completed.
  • List new .pacnew and .pacsave files after an update is completed.
  • Print a warning and ask for confirmation when using the --force option.
  • Prompt for a reboot when the kernel has been upgraded.

All of these functions can be disabled in the configuration file, /etc/pacnanny.conf, letting you customize the level of strictness/annoyingness.

pacnanny also can perform some useful tasks on its own:

  • Display the full history of a package on your system (installation, upgrades, etc.)
  • Display the pacman log for a given date or range of dates, including descriptive dates like "yesterday" or "today".


pacnanny is a thin wrapper that mostly looks at the arguments you pass before passing them on and at the output that pacman produces. You can simply use the pacnanny command in place of pacman and use all the familiar arguments. So, to do a system update, you would do pacnanny -Syu.

The extra pacnanny functions have their own arguments:

$ pacnanny --log [date(:date)]
$ pacnanny --history [package(s)]


As careful as I try to be when I run pacman -Syu, I still occasionally miss things, particularly during large updates that produce a lot of text. Important warnings sometimes slip between the cracks, causing me to miss an important new .pacnew file, for example. As for the news, I do subscribe to the RSS feed but sometimes I update the system before opening my newsreader. This forces me to see the news first.

Prior Art

As it turns out, someone already had the same idea as me (albeit several years earlier): Pacmatic. I was not aware of Pacmatic until after I had already written Pacnanny. The two scripts share similar features but they also have their differences. I recommend trying both and choosing the one that better suits your needs.


Are there other places that we can help the user avoid shooting himself in the foot? I'm open to ideas. Contributions are welcome as long as they stick to the basic idea of only trying to correct/prevent user-error/carelessness. Also, I'm not great at shell scripting, so please point out any mistakes or places for improvement.


Brandon Invergo - brandon@invergo.net