Maintaining ConTeXt Minimals on Arch Linux

On Linux, and to a slightly lesser extent on Windows and Mac, TeX Live is the de-facto TeX distribution. However, TeX Live is not satisfactory to a ConTeXt user because the updates on TeX Live are slow. Only stable releases of ConTeXt are synced with TeX Live, while ConTeXt users are accustomed to the almost daily beta releases of ConTeXt. (So much so that if ConTeXt is not updated for a few days, users think that something is wrong with their setup).

An alternative TeX distribution for ConTeXt is ConTeXt Minimals. Its name, and motto, should not be confused with minimalism. On the contrary, ConTeXt minimals contains everything needed to run ConTeXt (well everything except ruby, which is used by MkII scripts) and once installed, it occupies a good 200MB disk space. It is minimal in the sense that if you took away anything from it, some functionality of ConTeXt would be crippled.

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Pacman, don’t eat my disk space

I run Arch Linux on my laptop that has a 100GB disk with a 15GB partition for /, a 15GB partition for /opt and the remaining 70GB for /home. Recently I ran out of disk space on /. First I thought that this was due to a huge browser cache (in opera, my temporary download directory is set to /tmp/opera/downloads which can get really big). Clearing up the /tmp did not help, and I went on a wild goose chase of figuring out which directory was hogging disk space. The culprit: /var/pacman/cache/pkg.

pacman, the arch package manager, keeps a cache of all packages it downloads! Over the last year or so that I have been running Arch, this directory had become huge, taking over 5GB of space. I do not want a cache of all package that I ever downloaded. I bit of hunting through the man pages revealed the right options.

pacman -Sc

which removes all the uninstalled packages from the cache. After that, /var/cache/pacman/pkg is at a bearable 2.5GB. I also learnt that if I ever need more disk space, I can run

pacman -Scc

which will remove all packages from pacman cache.