Keep your arch linux system clean and light

Archlinux is a system that can take a lot of punishment from the user without breaking, nevertheless, it’s always useful to check once in a while your orphan packages to make sure your system doesn’t have unneeded dependencies or packages that no longer depend on any other package, so here are a couple of tips to improve your package management skills and to keep your system clean of packages you don’t want (after all that’s why you installed Arch in the first place).

1) Uninstall Procedure

The first thing to note, and I have seen lots of people NOT doing this, is  to remove package using the -s flag, so the package gets uninstalled along with the installed dependencies no longer required by any other package. For example, if you installed devede player you will get these 4 packages installed:

mencoder  dvdauthor  vcdimager  devede

If you then proceed to remove devede using just:

pacman -R devede

you will only get the devede package removed, leaving the remaining 3 packages in your system taking up space for something you already uninstalled and have no practical use now.

So instead of uninstalling that way, try this one:

pacman -Rs devede

That will get all 4 packages uninstalled with no harm to your system.

2) Orphan management

WARNING: Please remember that pacman doesn’t hold your hand, and in some cases might suggest packages in the below method that are indeed useful for you, the method I am about to explain can be dangerous if you don’t have an idea of what you are doing.

Taken from the ArchWiki:

pacman is a powerful package management tool, but it does not attempt to handle all corner cases. Read The Arch Way if this confuses you. Rather, users must be vigilant and take responsibility for maintaining their own system.

With this command you can list the orphan packages on your system, that is packages not required by any currently installed package:

pacman -Qtd

Dont blindly just copy the entire list and remove it from your system, doing this without checking first whats listed can lead to aliens eating your comp and pooping it before you realize what is happening.

3) Using the -D switch in pacman

This option is famous for NOT being known/used, but it’s very helpful, with this you can keep a list of packages you are trying so you can easily remove them later or keep them if you want.

To test any given package after you install it, go ahead and do:

pacman -D –asdeps

This will tell pacman the package was installed as a dependency, consequently, it will be listed as an orphan (which you can see with “pacman -Qtd”)

If you then decide that you want to keep the package, you can use the –asexplicit flag as is:

pacman -D –asexplicit

4) Knowing what is taking up space in your system

There are some useful tools for this, one that is distro independent and very useful is Baobab (part of GNOME and included by default).

This will tell you in a nice graphical way what is taking space on your system so you can take action.

Another tool (this one is Arch specific) is a script that lists the real size of some of your packages, what do I mean by real? well, say you want to know the size of one of your games, the normal way to do it is search for the installation folder and check the properties for that folder, looking at how much space is taking off your hard drive, but what about dependencies? if it’s a big program, most likely is has lots of dependencies and those take space too.

This tool will tell you (in order from biggest to smallest) the size of those packages including dependencies, I’m sure you will be impressed by some of the apps that will appear on this list.

To use it, save the file as bigpkg.sh give it executable permissions with:

chmod +x bigpkg.sh

and run it:

 

./bigpkg.sh

I hope that with this tips you can get a better understanding of how pacman and dependencies work, and have yourself a cleaner system to save the valuable disk space for your por….important files.

Do you know of any other ways to keep your system clean? let us know in the comment section below!

7 Responses to “Keep your arch linux system clean and light”

  1. Very interesting information!Perfect just what I was searching for!

  2. Hey, so handy advices summurized in a short page, thank you snott!
    Obviously there’s a double dash before ‘asdeps’ and ‘asexplicit’ in:
    $ pacman -D –asdeps

  3. Thanks for clearing that out. Indeed it is a double dash. My font selection makes it look like it’s only one but if you copy and paste the text you would see it’s a double dash.

  4. Instead of Baobab one may also try similar but non-graphical ncdu.

  5. ncdu is a much lighter alternative to Baobab, and doesn’t pull in nasty dependencies if you’re skrimping on space, apart from that Baobab’s pretty nice.

    (ncdu is a curses application)

  6. You forgot the best one!

    pacgraph -s -f /tmp/pacgraph && $BROWSER /tmp/pacgraph.svg

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