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Automatic Arch Linux package rebuilds and repository creation.
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Project Status: Concept - Minimal or no implementation has been done yet.

Automatic Arch Linux package rebuilds and repository creation.

This is just a concept right now. The plan is:

  • Have a local configuration file (in a fork of this repo? somewhere on disk? still TBD) that lists git repository URLs for packages you want to build (i.e. AUR repos, or your own laid out the same way) and the ref (commit hash/branch/tag) to build.
  • The main arch-autorepo script takes a pointer to that config file, and builds all packages in it, or a subset of them
  • A helper script to add git repos (by URL) to the config file
  • A helper script that clones all repos in the config file, and if there are any commits on master past the hash specified in the config file, shows you a diff to review. Assuming you accept it, the config file is updated for the new hash (this is intended to be an easy way for you to manually verify the safety of package contants, per the AUR documentation).
  • An option to bypass any commit hashes in the config file, and just build everything from master.
  • The build process will run inside a Docker container for safety and isolation; there should be an option (i.e. for use in Jenkins, or direct use within a safe/isolated environment) to skip the Docker isolation and run directly on the syste,
  • A metadata generation script, which essentially fires up an isolated bash session, sources the PKGBUILD file, captures the important variables, and saves them for later use.
  • The main script which installs required dependencies in a clean container, copies in (or mounts?) the source and then triggers a makepkg run, capturing the output (both logs and the resulting tarball) and the return code (overall success/failure).
  • A test script which uses a clean container or VM and attempts to install the newly-build package, run a pacman --check on it, and optionally run some manually-defined test commands (like actually running the software from the package).
  • Assuming the build and test both complete, a script to update the package in a custom Pacman repository and then push that updated repository to Amazon S3.
  • makepkg logging should also be pushed to S3, along with an HTML summary of the build (assuming at least one package was built) with links to the log output and git diffs; this should be able to be configured to be sent via email.


I use a bunch of packages from the AUR, and it's a pain to rebuild them when they're updated or dependencies are updated. I'm an automation engineer at my day job, so I do stuff like this all the time. It seems crazy that I have to do all this manually. It also seems that there's no good existing solution for this; I can't fathom how the people who maintain multiple AUR packages stay sane.

Why not Jenkins? At first glance, it does seem like Jenkins would be a good solution for this. However, there are three main reasons why I decided against using it:

  1. It's relatively complex software. I want this solution to be something low-overhead and with a low barrier to entry, so as many people can benefit from it as possible. For people who haven't used - let alone administered - Jenkins before, it can be a bit intimidating.
  2. While Jenkins has a really good plugin ecosystem, there don't seem to be any for Arch (like makepkg or repo-add). I'm not terribly good with Java, so I'm not writing them.
  3. Dependency resolution. While the initial logic is going to be pretty naive, I'd really like to eventually build in working, reasonably complete dependency solving logic. This can include examining the packages installed in the Docker container and the metadata of the packages we're trying to build (so we know if dependencies are unmet before we run makepkg) and, when we're building a set of interdependent packages, building them in the right order. There doesn't seem to be any sane way to acheive that in Jenkins, except either re-running the jobs over and over again until they succeed or altering the job configuration outside of Jenkins.

There's no reason why this project couldn't be run inside one or more Jenkins jobs, and that probably makes sense for anyone who already has an instance running or is comfortable using it (for my own packages, I'll probably do that, and use GitHub hooks to trigger the jobs). But I don't think it should be a requirement or assumption. If parallelization is desired, it wouldn't be too difficult for me to add a component that performs the dependency solving, and then triggers Jenkins jobs to build specific subsets of the packages.


  • my AUR forum thread
  • Before starting work on this, check out some of the AUR Helpers to see if any of them fit my purposes. There are sme tools for trying to automatically update PKGBUILDs from upstream, as well as aurutils that includes a build script, a recursive depsolving script, and a script to only build packages that have been updated. There's also pkgbuilder that's a Python-based AUR helper.
  • Arch has their own build server at (docs on wiki). The Build machines wiki article gives some information about it, and the tools on it - including the comment, "makechrootpkg - uses a modified version of the standard makechrootpkg implementation that adds queueing and integrated architecture selection. ". Maybe I can get some information or source code for this stuff? There's a comment on the wiki, "If you need access to the build server, please send me an email at with [Build Server] in the subject line."
  • AurJson is a JSON HTTP interface to the AUR which includes search functionality, as well as returning information (effectively the PKGBUILD, including version) about a package by name. There's also a python3-aur package that provides a client for it. There's also a similar interface for the official repos here with some docs on it on the wiki.
  • can we use one or more of the AUR Helpers to do part of this?
  • The virtualbox/Vagrant box that I use for testing my archlinux workstation puppet stuff
  • Dockerfile for Arch with SSH
  • how to create a Docker image using pacstrap, and the related Docker hub
  • Docker's official installation instructions for Arch just use yaourt for the git versions.
  • Arch wiki Docker page
  • Arch wiki AUR Installing Packages
  • Can anything from OBS help us? It's probably too heavy-weight itself, but maybe some parts are useful?
  • maybe repose contains the logic we need to work with the repository?
  • openSuSE Build Service is publicly accessible and free, and can build for many popular distributions including "Arch Core" and "Arch Extras". It has a ReST API, so theoretically it could be automated to provide the build infrastructure. It also _seems_ to allow building of any package.
  • The source to Arch/Pacman's repo-add, which is just a shell script
  • makepkg takes a -s/--syncdeps flag that will attempt to resolve and install dependencies before build. This might simplify some of our depsolving logic.
  • namcap to check for errors in a PKGBUILD and the resulting package
  • ccache in the build process?
  • The AUR Trusted User Guidelines on Accessing and Updating the Repository mentions mkarchroot / makechrootpkg and helper scripts in the devtools package for building packages. "It is mandatory to build in a clean chroot".
  • Arch Packaging Standards
  • The Internal Projects wiki page lists "Packaging Automation" and "Server Administration" projects and contacts for them.
  • Arch Linux infrastructure server configuration
  • A blog post on making mkarchroot more LXC-friendly


  • Docker is at least minimally working:
    • Build the docker image: docker build -t archautorepo .; It should exit with something like Successfully built <IMAGE_ID>
    • Run bash in the image to confirm it works: docker run --name=initial_archautorepo --rm -i -t archautorepo /bin/bash (the --rm automatically deletes the container when exited)
  • Docker notes:
    • List all containers with docker ps -a and then delete the container you just used with docker rm initial_archautorepo
    • You can also add a --rm to the run command to remove the container automatically when the process exits
    • mount pwd as a volume at /localfs and run the command in it: docker run -v /localfs:\`pwd\` -w /localfs -i -t IMAGE_NAME COMMAND
    • docker run --cidfile /path/to/file writes the container ID to /path/to/file and closes the file when the run exits
  • Idea:
    • Run a new container detatched, with a command that keeps it running: docker run --name=initial_archautorepo -d archautorepo /bin/bash -c 'while true; do sleep 10; done'
    • We can now docker exec initial_archautorepo <command> and get back the command's output and exit code
    • When done, docker stop initial_archautorepo && docker rm initial_archautorepo
    • So, docker-py should be able to replicate this. Note that Avoid docker-py has some good information in it.
  • Design Question: what's the right way to do this? I think I have an idea of the high-level overview:
    1. In Python locally, clone the git repo for the package. Make sure the clone is clean and at the right hash, and no package files are in the directory.
    2. In Python locally, we'll try to handle dependency resolution, at least figuring out if a package we're building depends on any other packages we're building, and build them first. We should also add deps back into our config file or cache them.
    3. In Python, start a new docker container backgrounded, with two mount points: the git clone, and a workdir.
    4. Place any locally-built deps into the workdir.
    5. Use docker exec(s) to install the deps into the container.
    6. Use docker exec(s) to install any repo (official) deps into the container.
    7. Use a docker exec to run makepkg in the git clone directory; capture the STDERR, STDOUT and exit code.
    8. In Python locally, find the package file and move it to the right destination (the workdir?)
    9. Repeat for all packages.
    10. Put the packages in a repo.
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