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I know about the ones at http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/dists/README, but there are other ones such as:

  • security.debian.org
  • backports.debian.org
  • archive.debian.org

How many are there? Is there a list somewhere?

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Another occasionally useful repository is snapshot, which has most packages that ever were in unstable. It's useful if the package in unstable is broken and you want to revert to a slightly older version. – Gilles Jul 2 '11 at 10:25
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Other than snapshots, it looks like you have a complete list.

As a sidenote, there is a list of non-official repositories.

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Don't ever toy around with Experimental unless you're already savvy enough to work with Unstable. It's the arterial-bleeding-edge, will-break-stuff-in-interesting-ways tree for stuff that's too twitchy to go into unstable yet. – Shadur Jul 2 '11 at 6:59
In some cases yes, but in other cases, stuff is uploaded there for other reasons (e.g. Debian is in freeze, tranistions are going on, a package depends on something still in Experimental). – Tshepang Jul 2 '11 at 10:03

You could always use the Debian Sources List Generator to compile a sources list specific to your specific release and branch requirements.

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The security repository is segregated for at least one security reason: having security updates in with the other regular package repositories would introduce significant delays (compared to non-mirrored special purpose repos) for people who use mirrors instead of the official repo. By putting security updates in a special repo, and stipulating not to mirror the security repository, people use the security repo directly and don't have to wait for updates to propagate to their local mirror.

As for the other two that you mentioned, I presume their purpose is determinable from their names. Backports is for packages from newer versions which have been backported to older OS versions, and I presume archive is simply that, an archive.

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archive is where old releases go when they retire. On the separation of security, see this question. – Gilles Jul 2 '11 at 10:23

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