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Please keep in mind that this is meant as a quick howto for how to build private backports and is not the way we expect from official backports for For official backports, see this wiki page.

Here we take the example of the package coreutils, from which we want to install a newer release available in testing. If the package you're looking for is not available in Testing, but it is in a Ubuntu PPA, you can have a look at CreatePackageFromPPA.

We don't need to be root here except the first and last steps.

Install Debian packaging tools

sudo apt install packaging-dev debian-keyring devscripts equivs

Find out which version is available in the Debian archive

$ rmadison coreutils --architecture amd64
coreutils  | 8.23-4        | oldstable  | amd64
coreutils  | 8.26-3        | stable     | amd64
coreutils  | 8.30-3        | testing    | amd64
coreutils  | 8.30-3        | unstable   | amd64

Add source package entries for the testing distribution

If the package you are backporting isn't yet in testing, then use the suite it is currently in instead, such as unstable or experimental, instead of testing, in the instructions below.

Add a testing deb-src entries to your apt sources:

# Debian testing packages sources
deb-src testing main

Update your packages index:

apt update

Download the package source:

apt source coreutils/testing

Install build dependencies

cd coreutils-*/
sudo mk-build-deps --install --remove

This will install a package named coreutils-build-deps depending on the listed build dependencies. If you remove this package later, the actual build dependencies will be marked as "automatically installed and no longer needed" and can be cleared with apt autoremove.

Indicate in the changelog a backport revision number

dch --bpo

This will add something like ~bpo9+ to the package version number. The tilde ~ makes the package inferior in version, which should allow a proper package upgrade when you upgrade to the next Debian release (i.e. your package will be replaced with the official Debian package).

Test if we can successfully build the package

fakeroot debian/rules binary

If this should fail with a missing file, apt-file may be useful in locating the dependency you require.

Build a package properly, without signing the package

dpkg-buildpackage --build=binary --unsigned-changes

Install and enjoy!

sudo apt install ../coreutils_*_*.deb

Go further

You could have a look BuildingFormalBackports and contribute your backport to Debian as explained here: