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DebianReleases > Backports

You are running Debian stable because you prefer the stable Debian tree. It runs great, there is just one problem: The software is a little bit outdated compared to other distributions. That is where backports come in.

Backports are recompiled packages from testing (mostly) and unstable (in a few cases only, e.g. security updates), so they will run without new libraries (wherever it is possible) on a stable Debian distribution. It is recommended to pick out single backports which fit your needs, and not to use all backports available.

This article illustrates how to:

For official instructions on how to use Debian Backports, visit

If you want to create a non-official backport of a package you need, have a look at SimpleBackportCreation.

If you want to build a backport with the intent of sharing it with others within Debian, see the BuildingFormalBackports page.

Configuring your stable system

Adding the repository

Using Synaptic



deb jessie-backports main contrib non-free


Using the command line

Become root and open the file /etc/apt/sources.list in your favorite editor:

human@debian:~$ su
debian:/home/human# nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Add the following lines:

# Backports repository
deb jessie-backports main contrib non-free

If you are a free software enthusiast, you might want to remove the contrib and non-free sections. (See Debian package management for details.)

Now that you have added the repository, update APT's cache to include the backports in the list of available packages:

debian:/home/human# aptitude update


Using backports

Finding backports

There are a several different ways to find out if a backport of a certain Debian package exists. A pretty convenient one is using Debian's web-based package search ( If you are running Iceweasel, simply use the built-in search plugin (Deb Search).

Installing backports on the command line

The backports repository is deactivated by default. So, if you want to install a backported package, you will have to state that explicitly.

For example:

debian:/home/human# aptitude -t jessie-backports install iceweasel

The -t option here specifies jessie-backports as the target release. This would install a newer version of Iceweasel from Backports instead of the older one from Debian stable release. (Note: that iceweasel isn't necessarily in the main backports repository but its maintainers have a separate repository.)


Reporting bugs

Because of limitations in the Debian Bug Tracking System, any bugs relevant to backported packages still have to be reported to the debian-backports list.

Migrate from to

On Sept. 5th, 2010, Backports became an official service (see announcement).

Systems configured to use should be reconfigured to use the new repository/URL (in /etc/apt/sources.list*), since service will be stopped at some point.

  1. replace with in /etc/apt/sources.list*.

  2. run aptitude update

  3. remove the key from your keyring. Depending how you installed it...
    • apt-get purge debian-backports-keyring

    • apt-key del 16BA136C

List installed backports

Out of all installed packages, which ones are backports? One way to tell is by version: all backports are tagged with ~bpo, for example, 24.5+1-6~bpo8+1, so at the command line you might say:

    dpkg-query -W | grep ~bpo

External links