libtinfo in Arch Linux

pacaur is “a AUR Helper which minimizes user interaction” meaning it helps us install AUR packages without too much hassle.

With it I install and update packages like spotify and google-chrome which are not in the official repositories i.e: core, extra, community or multilib repositories.

What does this have to do with libtinfo?

Well libtinfo (more specifically libtinfo5) was one of those packages managed by pacaur. Problem is every time I did an update it warned with:

libtinfo5 not present in AUR with pacaur --skipping


Meaning that it wasn’t being maintained anymore since it is not in the AUR.

So I decide to remove it. I couldn’t remember what I was using it for, but I was sure it wasn’t very important, and in case something failed I’d just google it. I also removed several other packages because I disliked seeing that message.

Uninstalled. Rebooted. Opened a Terminal…. Couldn’t open a Terminal. Looks like one of the packages was actually important.

I switch to console mode, since I need a shell if I want to reinstall any of the packages I uninstalled again.

I try logging in with my user… A quick refresh of the terminal and nothing happens.

Mmm… let’s try loggin in as root. It worked!

Now just for science (queue meme), I tried try to su as my user, I get the clue:

zsh: error while loading shared libraries: libtinfo.so.6: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory


Turns out libtinfo is a library that normally (read: in other distros) gets installed when installing libncurses, just not in Arch.

libtinfo is in turn is required by zsh (I discovered from the message), which is the shell I’m using, and since this failed it prevented me from opening a terminal emulator.

A quick google revealed the best working solution:

ln -s libncursesw.so.6 libtinfo.so.6


This solution doesn’t require you to install the old unmaintained package again, and can be done for any version of libncurses.

In the future, the package maintainers of libncurses should probably add this symbolic link as part of the package installation.

Credits to this Arch Linux Forum thread for the idea.

I later also noticed that someone commented on the AUR package website itself with the same approach.