This document is here to guide you in helping translate pacman messages, libalpm messages, and the manual pages for the entire pacman package.

We are currently using Transifex as the translation platform for pacman and libalpm. You will need to sign up for an account there and then register with a translation team on the pacman project page.

Note This may be old information due to our switch to Transifex, but the gettext website is a very useful guide to read before embarking on translation work, as it describes many of the commands in more detail than I will here:

Translating Messages


There are two separate message catalogs in pacman: one for the back-end (libalpm) and one for the front-end (pacman and scripts). These correspond to the lib/libalpm/po and po directories in the pacman source, respectively.

Translation message files are a specially formatted text file containing the original message and the corresponding translation. These po files can then either be hand-edited, or modified with a tool such as poedit, gtranslator or kbabel. Using a translation tool tends to make the job easier.

Please read up on Transifex usage using the Transifex Help if you are not familiar.

Transifex provides a command-line client to help with translations. Here is an example set of commands if you have a source code checkout and are not worried about any local translations being overwritten. The .tx/ directory is checked into the git repository so is preconfigured with the two project resources (See tx status output for a quick overview).

tx pull -f
poedit po/<mylang>.po
poedit lib/libalpm/po/<mylang>.po
tx push -t -l <mylang>

Or to just push one of the two available resources:

tx push -r archlinux-pacman.pacman-pot -t -l <mylang>
tx push -r archlinux-pacman.libalpm-pot -t -l <mylang>

See the Notes section for additional hints on translating.

Pre-release Updates

A week or two before each release, the codebase will go into a string freeze and an email will be sent to the pacman-dev mailing list asking for translations. This email will have a prefix of [translation] for anyone looking to set up an email filter.

At this time, the latest .po language files will be made available at the Transifex project page. Each language will have two files available (back-end and front-end). Translators interested in helping are encouraged to use the features of Transifex to let others know they are currently translating their language.

Once a translator has completed the translation (OR realizes they do not have time to finish), please upload your progress back to the Transifex site.

Note Please upload your translations as soon as possible- this will give other speakers of your language time to review your translations and update them as necessary.

Incremental Updates

If you have more advanced needs you will have to get a copy of the pacman repository.

git clone

Next, you will need to run ./ and ./configure in the base directory to generate the correct Makefiles. At this point, all necessary make targets will be generated and we can begin updating the translation files.

We need to first update the main message catalog file. Navigate into either the lib/libalpm/po or po directory depending on which translation you wish to work on first, and execute the following command. If you are working in the po/ tree, replace libalpm.pot with pacman.pot:

make libalpm.pot-update

Next, update your specific language’s translation file:

make <po file>-update

At this point, you can do the translation. To submit your changes, either email the new .po file to the mailing-list with [translation] in the subject, or submit a Git-formatted patch (please do not include any .pot file changes).

As a shortcut, all translation files (including .pot files) can be updated with the following command:

make update-po

Adding a New Language

Making a new language is not too hard, but be sure to follow all the steps. You will have to do the following steps in both the lib/libalpm/po/ and po/ directories, substituting where appropriate. First, edit the LINGUAS file and add your new language code at the bottom. Next, run the following command, substituting libalpm.pot or pacman.pot for potfile depending on which directory you are currently working in:

msginit -l <lang code> -o <lang code>.po -i <potfile>

You can then also add your language code to the end of the LINGUAS file located in each po directory.

Look at the current message files for more guidance if necessary. Once you create the new language file, you may need to slightly modify the headers; try to make them look similar to the other .po file headers. In addition, for all new translations we would strongly recommend using UTF-8 encoding.


msgid and msgstr variables can be on as many lines as necessary. Line breaks are ignored; if you need a literal line break, use an \n in your string. The following two translations are equivalent:

msgstr "This is a test translation"
msgstr ""
"This is a test translation"

If you want to test the translation (for example, the front-end one):

rm *.gmo stamp-po
cp <lang code>.gmo /usr/share/locale/<lang code>/LC_MESSAGES/

Translating Manpages

There are currently no efforts underway to include translated manual pages in the pacman codebase. However, this is not to say translations are unwelcome. If someone has experience with i18n man pages and how to best include them with our source, please contact the pacman-dev mailing list at