How can I get a list of packages that were explicitly installed by a user?

I'm aware of:

pacman -Qe
pacman -Qi

But those seem to include the default packages for my distribution (e.g. sudo). I want to list only the packages that were installed by a user using e.g. "pacman -Syu newpackage"

1 Answer 1


Arch Linux doesn't really have a set of default packages, though if you install from the guide you likely installed the base package group, and possibly base-devel. You can use comm to filter these (I'm assuming bash here):

comm -23 <(pacman -Qqett | sort) <(pacman -Qqg base -g base-devel | sort | uniq)

You can use Qqe instead of Qqett if you want to include explicitly-installed packages that are also dependencies of some other package.

  • This worked well! So just to clarify, pacman also doesn't keep track of who installs something?
    – pandita
    Dec 10, 2017 at 9:50
  • 1
    @pandita On my system, attempts to install software as non-root yields error: you cannot perform this operation unless you are root. If you use sudo, you become root. So as far as pacman can tell, the only user who can install a package is root and there's no need to track that
    – Fox
    Dec 10, 2017 at 10:03
  • Try comm -23 <(pacman -Qqett | sort | uniq) <(pacman -Qqg base -g base-devel | sort | uniq) So they are both in the same sorted order
    – Ryan Ward
    Jun 4, 2018 at 13:27
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    This has a problem with circular dependencies. For example, jupyter is required by X which is required by Y .... which is required by jupyter. So although I explicitly installed it and it won't be installed as a dependency of any listed package, jupyter itself is not listed, which makes the output of this command unable to ensure reproducibility.
    – memeplex
    Feb 21, 2019 at 9:06
  • 3
    This answer is no longer working as now base is not a group, but a meta-package. Feb 12, 2021 at 7:11

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