Coming to Arch from Debian

Here are some things I've noticed as different and interesting when starting using Arch after 12-13 years of using Debian GNU/Linux.

Where are the system logs?

There are very few familiar logs in /var/log. To know what's going on, you can tail the system log by using the journalctlcommand:

$ journalctl -f

Finding all files installed by a package

On Debian, dpkg -L <package>is a great way of finding the files belonging to a particular package.

On Arch, the equivalent is:

$ pacmas -Qlq <package>

Finding the package owning a file

I like the speed with which I can find which packages owns a particular file. On Debian, all that it takes is dpkg -S <file>.

On Arch, the equivalent is:

$ pacmas -Qo <file>

Finding the package providing a file

On Debian, you can search the contents of all available packages with:

# apt-get install apt-file
# apt-file update
# apt-file search YAML/

The equivalent on Arch Linux is:

# pacman -Fyx YAML/

How to do an apt-get upgrade

Staying up to date on security patches as well as up to date software packages in terms of features (what you'd do apt-get update && apt-get upgrade for on Debian) is easily accomplished with:

# pacman -Syu

Note that Arch is a rolling release distro, so there's no differentiation between apt-get upgradeand apt-get dist-upgrade in Arch parlance.

Where are the changelogs?

One thing I find much better on Debian is the availability of changelogs. Whatever the package, I know I can always find its documentation, including the changelog in /usr/share/doc/<package>.

With Arch however, there is no such thing. There is a command, pacman -Qc <package> which gives you the change log if it's available, but no packages I've tried (including big ones such as coreutils, firefoxand emacs) have any, so at the time of writing, my conclusion is that there is no changelogs available on your Arch system.

The best source for Arch change logs I found is browsing the Git (or SVN to Git) repository available at So, to browse the changelog for firefox, you may browse:

However, I settled for a different approach since I like to have everything available at the command line. After all, that's where I do all the package management. Therefore, I clone and track the packages Git repository where all the Arch build descriptors are hosted:

$ git clone  git:// arch-packages

Then, to see the Arch changes to a given package (not the upstream changes, mind you), I do:

$ cd arch-packages
$ git log -p firefox/trunk

Using the -pparameter I got the diff as well as the commit message of each individual commit.

As with regular Git repositories, I keep it updated with:

$ cd arch-packages
$ git pull

Restarting a network interface

Here, I restart an interface (profile):

# netctl restart my-home

Enabling and starting a daemon

Whenever you install a daemon, say the Percona database server, it's enabled and started automatically for you. On Arch, not so. The server is only installed, not started.

To enable boot time startup of the Percona database (it's a collection of performance related patches on top of MySQL) and starting it at the current session, I did the following (including installing the actual server to be sure you've got the context):

# pacman -S percona-server percona-server-clients
# systemctl enable mysqld.service
# systemctl start mysqld.service

Of course, a lot of the new-iness here, is that Arch uses [[][systemd]] per default and Debian does not (although it's available in the APT repositories).

Where is netstat?

Netsat isn't installed by default. To get it, you'll need to install net-tools:

# pacman -S net-tools

Note that search for netstat will only yield the netstat-natpackage which most probably isn't what you want.

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