I put jessie-backports in my /etc/apt/sources.list, but it seems that apt will not automatically use the packages from backports but older packages.

However, if I use apt-cache show to check the version it shows the latest, and I am able to use apt install xxx=<latest-version> to install it.

How to tell apt always use the latest package by default?

  • See this post and its mention of "pinning": askubuntu.com/questions/27362/…
    – cutrightjm
    Sep 16, 2016 at 3:19
  • 2
    Before doing this, it's worth wondering why we specifically set the backports repositories up so that they don't get picked by default... Sep 16, 2016 at 7:00

1 Answer 1


As @cutrightjm has mentioned apt-pinning is the solution.

If you create a file /etc/apt/preferences.d/backports with the following content

Package: *
Pin: release a=stretch-backports
Pin-Priority: 800

apt will always install packages from stretch-backports, except when you pin another package source with a priority higher than 800.

If you want to see all available versions of a package, their priority and which one will be installed, you can use apt-cache policy <packagename>.

  • One more question: when I have multiple versions of one package from multiple sources, how do I tell apt to use the latest version? The preference doesn't seem to be able to do that.
    – t123yh
    Sep 25, 2016 at 1:59
  • It's really not recommended to mix many package sources. Debian is intended as a distribution which prefers stability over stability. So if you add another package source, you should only pin the packages you want to install to a higher Priority.
    – lw1.at
    Sep 25, 2016 at 6:06

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