Brandon Invergo

Introducing pacnanny for Arch Linux and derivatives

pacnanny is yet another wrapper script for pacman, the package manager of Arch Linux and its various derivatives (I use Parabola GNU/Linux-libre). 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.

Functionality

At present, pacnanny 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 or option to skip this. Your eyeballs are required to look at the news.
  • Reprint all warnings again together after the update is completed.
  • List new .pacnew and .pacsave files.
  • Print a warning and ask for confirmation when using the --force option.
  • Prompt for a reboot when the kernel has been upgraded.

Usage

pacnanny is a thin wrapper that only 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.

Justification

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.

Contributing

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.

Downloading

While pacnanny is usable now, no release has been made yet (I'll probably make one soon after using it day-to-day for a while). In the meantime, you can get it from its Github page.