I'm currently running Debian testing (Wheezy) and am trying to get SCIM working. I want to install the scim-pinyin package, but there is no such package available in the testing repository, although there was one in the previous stable (Squeeze) repository. There is a copy of the package in unstable but not for my architecture (amd64).

Looking at the package versions, I notice that the version in the stable repositories is the same as that in unstable. This being the case, I have two questions:

  1. Is there any reason why I can't install a package from an older repository since I would assume that most Squeeze packages will probably have their dependencies met by the package versions currently in testing?

  2. What is the best way to achieve this? (Add the Squeeze repository to sources.list? Download the Squeeze package and install it manually?)

  • I once installed a package from Lenny on Squeeze. I think it was lib2c.so. Everything worked fine, however I have had, and still have, a bad feeling about it. First i removed the current Squeeze repo, added Lennys (googled for the URL of the archieve servers), installed the nessesary package and moved back to Squeeze repo removing Lennys. Jan 7, 2013 at 16:47
  • 2
    See also bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=659310 ... it sounds like maybe you shouldn't want to install it.
    – derobert
    Jan 7, 2013 at 18:42
  • Check out my answer below; also, this SU question might help you. Jan 7, 2013 at 20:10
  • In general your best option is to recompile it on the platform you are using it on. This gives you the best chance of successful usage. Having said that, it was probably removed from Debian for good reason, so I'd check for better alternatives. Jan 13, 2013 at 22:09

2 Answers 2


In this case, yes, it's possible and safe.

As debian keep dependences tree for each requested package.

At all there is still a risk that some libraries could not exist in two different version together in same installation, due to conflict (port reservation, device driver and so). In this kind of situation, apt would prevent you and ask for what to do. (Come back with another UL question in this case;-)

You could add squeeze.list to source.list.d

(Care! New versions of APT will ignore filename not ending by ".list".):

cat <<eof >/etc/apt/sources.list.d/squeeze.list
deb http://ftp.be.debian.org/debian/ squeeze-updates main contrib
deb-src http://security.debian.org/ squeeze/updates main contrib

add a default directive to /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/

cat <<eof >/etc/apt/apt.conf.d/99squeeze
APT::Default-Release "wheezy";

Than use -t switch to apt-get for overriding default config:

apt-get -t squeeze install scim-pinyin
  • This makes perfect sense. In the end, thanks to the info in the link posted by @derobert I decided against installing SCIM and used fcitx instead, which is available in wheezy. So I found a solution to my problem but still learnt something new along the way - thanks.
    – FixMaker
    Jan 14, 2013 at 22:48
  • 1
    I'd like to point out that files added to sources.list.d are now ignored unless they have the list file extension. So in my case, file would be /etc/apt/sources.list.d/squeeze.list
    – carandraug
    Apr 15, 2014 at 18:08
  • 2
    I tried copying and pasting this into buster so I could use some stretch packages. I found that I did not need the 'updates' - my file stretch.list looked like:deb http://deb.debian.org/debian/ stretch main contrib non-free deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian stretch main contrib non-free and the default release directive obviously changed to "buster"
    – mozboz
    Oct 12, 2019 at 11:53

I did this once -- it was the image viewer gliv, which I wanted because it can do slideshows, but the latest version (in Debian sid) had a bug and terminated on startup. Once "downgraded", it worked.

In /etc/apt/sources.list, say it looks like this:

deb http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian sid main contrib non-free
# deb http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian wheezy main contrib non-free
# deb http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian squeeze main contrib non-free

In that case, I'd uncomment the last two lines, then run sudo aptitude update, then aptitude versions PACKAGE. Spot the version I like, and run sudo aptitude install PACKAGE=VERSION (type the version precisely as in the second column of aptitude's output).

When done, I might want to revert /etc/apt/sources.list so I'm just roaming one Debian release at a time.

  • I wish I could accept both answers, as both make sense. Thanks for the suggestion.
    – FixMaker
    Jan 14, 2013 at 22:50
  • @Lorax: No problem at all, that's a common situation on the SX sites. Jan 15, 2013 at 16:09
  • This answer helped me solve another unrelated library problem. Thanks.
    – Dark Star1
    Jan 11, 2018 at 9:00

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