apt-pinning - Configuring Debian to run the latest packages

February 28, 2006
The first time I installed and tried out Debian Linux distribution, I was surprised by the different way of configuring it which included the placement of configuration files, the change in commands used and so on. Coming from a Red Hat background and tuned to the Red Hat way of doing things, I did have some learning curve to overcome.

But once I mastered how to configure things in Debian, I realised that I liked the Debian way of doing things much more than the Red Hat way. But one thing which really put me off was that Debian installed the antiquated packages of the software I use on a daily basis. And I needed something more recent. I explored how to install the cutting edge of software of my choice in Debian and I did get quite a few suggestions from various quarters including one of incorporating backports repository in the distribution.

But none told me about Apt-Pinning - the process of mixing and matching between stable, unstable and testing repositories to get a stable Debian distribution which also ran the latest version of ones software. And because I was largely unsuccessful in my endeavour of getting the latest version of software running on Debian stable, I switched to Ubuntu.

I recently came across this lucid tutorial written by John.H.Robinson called "Apt-Pinning for Beginners", which explains the process in very clear terms. If I had come across this tutorial earlier, I would still have been using Debian on my PC.


  • FYI - Described in more detail in The Debian System by Krafft. (I'm not Krafft - don't even look like him.)

  • Thanks for this link. I use debian so is very useful for me. ;)

    @ anonymous
    Yes the debian system by Krafft is a very good book I hear. I have read good reviews of the book.

  • Kamesh

    Thanks for the link. Even I wanted to work with the latest software but could not with the debian sarge installed in my comp. I have moved on from debian to ubuntu to elive now.

  • Kamaraju Kusumanchi

    If you are new to Debian, then I suggest you stick to either one of stable, testing, unstable without bothering about mixing distributions. Apt-pinning is for advanced users who know how to fix their problems (once they arise). If you are mixing Debian distributions, problems will arise.