Automate PKGBUILD testing with Docker

I maintain the ArchLinux package for Postman, the popular API Development Environment, this post discusses a script I use to make sure that each new version of the package builds and installs correctly (i.e.: no missing dependencies) before submitting it to AUR (Archlinux User Repository). By using Docker, the script runs the process into an isolated environment that mimics a fresh installation of ArchLinux, preventing you from forgetting to declare dependencies upon packages already installed on the machine.

The Code

You can browse or download the code of this script from my github account: aur-pkgbuild-tester.

How Does It Work?

The script prepares a Docker container where the process will run into, and accepts two arguments:

  1. Path of the directory containing the PKGBUILD
  2. Path of the shell script you want the container to run to check if the package is correctly installed

The PKGBUILD (and its sources) and the optional tester script are mounted into the container through the Docker’s volumes abstraction.

How to run it:

./ \
    ./my-package-files \


./ \

Three stages:

  1. The container with a fresh, minimal ArchLinux installation is created
  2. The PKGBUILD is built inside the container
  3. If specified, the tester script is run inside the container

To spawn a minimal ArchLinux installation the script uses the base/archlinux (which is updated daily) and non-interactively installs the required packages to build the package (sudo, binutils, fakeroot).

Then, inside the container, it creates a non-root user to build the package (running makepkg as root is disallowed); if the build fails the script quits with a non-zero code, meaning that something is wrong in the PKGBUILD or the sources.

After building and installing the package, the script runs a tester script, which by default is /bin/true but that can be overridden by passing the second argument to the script. The purpose of this tester script is making sure that the application installed works correctly.


There are more consistent ways of checking for package integrity and correctness (see for example the namcap tool or archlinux’ devtools utilities), so I recommend using this script if you’re bringing minor changes to a package that is already known to be working, or if you need to automate the process of updating the package: the script returns a non-zero code in case of failures (build failures, installation failures or custom tester failures), so it can be used in a larger build script or pipeline.

Something to add?

Be sure to let me know! I am @daw985 on Twitter.