Allen McRae, an Arch Linux project/lead developer, announced the release of Pacman 5.2 on his blog on Monday.
For those new to Pacman, it’s a package manager and one of the major distinguishing features of Arch Linux, combining a simple binary package format with an easy-to-use build system. Pacman can manage installation, upgrades, removal, and downgrades.
The new version Pacman 5.2, includes a variety of changes over earlier releases.
The most significant change is related to delta packages. The dev team has completely removed support for delta packages, claiming not only was the feature was massively underutilized, but it also made updates slower, albeit slightly. The programmers also noted a massive security hole with the delta packages that allowed for malicious package database to run arbitrary commands on the user’s system.
While the delta packages are removed, they do not rule out reintroducing at a later date, but note that it won’t be “any time soon.”
Other changes include:
- Support for downloading PGP keys utilizing the Web Key Directory (WKD). The WKD is where both pacman-key and makepkg will look by default (with the latest GnuPG release).
- In the process of changing Pacman’s build system from autotools to meson (Pacman 5.2), developers report that this change is “relatively” complete)
- Zstd, LZ4, and Lzip compression support (Arch Linux is expected to switch to Zstd as the default soon)
- The addition of B2sum as a new checksum algorithm
- Added a few man pages (makepkg and pacsync)
- Added HTTP download support
- Multiple bug fixes and slight improvements among a multitude of other changes (a full list of these is available here)
The 5.2 release is the first Pacman release since version 5.1.2 in late December of last year. A total of Twenty-nine different developers contributed to this release.
While Pacman 5.2 is in the Arch Linux “testing” repos currently, it has not yet been pushed to the “public” or “core” repo. That push is expected soon. McRae estimates that the next release of Pacman will be “in a year or so.”