In Arch Linux and Arch User Repository (AUR), package names typically include certain suffixes or prefixes that indicate the type of package and its source. The most common ones you mentioned are “bin” and “git.” Here’s what they mean:
-bin Packages: These are precompiled binary packages. They are built from the source code of a software application, but the build process is done in advance by the package maintainer. Users can simply install these packages without needing to compile anything. They are typically faster to install and use because you don’t need to compile the source code, but they might not be as up-to-date as the source packages. These are recommended for most users who want the stable and precompiled version of the software.
-git Packages: These are packages built directly from the latest source code in the project’s Git repository. These packages provide the bleeding-edge, development versions of software. They can be very up-to-date and might have the latest features and bug fixes, but they can also be less stable and might not be suitable for production use. These are recommended for users who want to try out the latest features and are comfortable with potential instability.
When deciding between these package types, you should consider the following:
Stability vs. Freshness: If you want a stable version of the software and don’t mind if it’s not the absolute latest, go for the non-“-bin” version. If you want the latest features and are willing to tolerate potential instability, go for the “-git” version.
Build Time: Compiling software from source, as required for non-“-bin” packages, takes longer but allows for customization. Binaries, on the other hand, install faster.
Popularity: As you mentioned, sometimes you’ll find that “-bin” packages have more votes. This could indicate that they are more widely used and considered stable. However, it’s not a strict rule, and you should also consider the specific needs of your use case.
Keep in mind that package quality may vary based on the AUR maintainer’s diligence, so reading the comments and reviews on the AUR package page can provide insights into the reliability of a specific package.