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In Ubuntu one can add a repository to apt-get via the following command -

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair

As Ubuntu is based on Debian code base, I was expecting that the same would work in Debian too, but it doesn't.

  • What is the reason for this?
  • Is there some other shell command I can use to achieve the same?

Note: I already know I can edit /etc/apt-get/sources.list, but I want to achieve this from shell. I also want to know why the same command won't work when the code base is the same.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 34 down vote accepted

Debian Wheezy and earlier:

The program add-apt-repository is available in Debian. It's in the python-software-properties package:

sudo apt-get install python-software-properties

It was added to that package in version 0.75. The current version in Debian Stable ('squeeze") is 0.60, so it doesn't have it. The version currently in Debian Testing ("wheezy") is, so it's available there.

Debian Jessie and later (2014)

As pointed out by @voltagex in the comments, it can now be found in the software-properties-common package:

sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
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At least in sid, the add-apt-repository script seems to have moved to software-properties-common –  voltagex Jun 22 '14 at 10:26
Version 0.92 of python-software-properties here, and (again) missing :-( –  gatopeich Nov 12 '14 at 11:33
See the comment above yours -- it's now in software-properties-common –  Jim Paris Nov 12 '14 at 22:20

Ubuntu is based on Debian but includes things Debian doesn't (and in turn are often incorporated into Debian later). The add-apt-repository command is an example which was included in Ubuntu first.

The add-apt-repository actually just executes a couple of commands to add the repository:

  • append the repository to /etc/apt/sources.list
  • add the repository key to the machine.

A script that sort of does the same can be found here.

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Assuming you're running a recent enough version of Debian (wheezy has it, I think squeeze does as well), you can just drop a file in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/

The format is the same as the main sources.list file.

The advantage is, especially if this is for some software you're distributing, you don't have to worry merging your changes into a possibly-edited /etc/apt/sources.list file (especially hard to deal with if your program is uninstalled). You can use dpkg conffile support to put the file in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/.

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sources.list.d exists since etch, I think. –  Gilles Aug 20 '12 at 22:08
Yeah, but apt-add-repository takes care of things like translating "ppa:" to an http://ppa.launchpad... type, and to download and install the repository key so that packages are not treated as suspicious –  Ricardo Cárdenes Jul 27 '14 at 11:24

add-apt-repository can now be found in the software-properties-common package.

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This is the right answer. –  frhd Sep 17 '14 at 8:58

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