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How to Add Repository on Debian Linux

Add Repository on Debian Linux

Debian Linux, a robust and reliable operating system, is renowned for its extensive software repositories. These repositories are the heart of Debian, housing thousands of packages that provide users with a wide array of applications, libraries, and tools. This article is designed for advanced users who have a solid understanding of Linux systems and are looking to expand their knowledge on how to add repositories on Debian Linux.

Understanding Debian Repositories

A Debian repository is a storage location from which your system retrieves and installs OS updates and applications. Each repository is a collection of packages organized by categories and importance. The three main types of repositories are:

  • Main: This repository contains free software that Debian can distribute.
  • Contrib: This repository holds free software, but some of them depend on software in non-free.
  • Non-Free: This repository includes software that does not comply with the Debian Free Software Guidelines

The repositories are defined in the /etc/apt/sources.list file and in files under the /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ directory. These files contain the information required by Advanced Package Tool (APT) to manage packages and update the system.

Adding Repositories in Debian

There are several ways to add repositories in Debian. You can use the command line, edit the sources.list file directly, or use the “Software & Updates” tool if you’re using the GNOME Desktop Environment.

Using the Command Line

The add-apt-repository command is a script that adds external APT repositories. However, in some cases, it might not be pre-installed on your system. If you encounter an error when trying to use this command, you can install the software-properties-common package, which includes add-apt-repository, using the following command:

sudo apt-get install software-properties-common

After installing software-properties-common, you can add a new APT repository using the add-apt-repository command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:some/ppa


add-apt-repository "deb [arch=amd64] $(lsb_release -cs) contrib"

In the above commands, replace ppa:some/ppa and the URL with the PPA or the URL of the repository you want to add.

Editing the sources.list File Directly

You can also add a repository by editing the /etc/apt/sources.list file directly. Open the file with a text editor with root privileges:

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Then, add the repository information at the end of the file in the following format:

deb [repository URL] [distribution] [component(s)]

Here, deb refers to the repository type, followed by the URL or link to that repository. After the URL, add the distribution name (like bullseye, bookworm) or class (like stable, testing). Lastly, add the type of component (main, contrib, non-free). This string is what Debian refers to as an APT line.

Using the “Software & Updates” Tool

If you’re using the GNOME Desktop Environment, you can add repositories using the “Software & Updates” tool. Here’s how:

  1. Click on “Activities” in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. In the search bar, start typing “Software & Updates”. Click on the tool when it appears.
  3. When the tool launches, click on the “Other Software” tab.
  4. Press the “Add” button at the bottom.
  5. Input the third-party repository URL in the format mentioned above.

Add Repository on Debian Linux

Troubleshooting Tips

If you encounter the ‘add-apt-repository command not found’ error, it indicates that the add-apt-repository package is missing from your system. To resolve this, install the software-properties-common package, which includes add-apt-repository


Understanding how to add repositories in Debian Linux is crucial for advanced users looking to expand their system’s capabilities. Whether you’re using the command line, or editing the sources.list file directly, or using the “Software & Updates” tool, you can easily add repositories to your Debian system. Always remember to verify the source of the repository for security reasons. Happy Linuxing!


r00t is a seasoned Linux system administrator with a wealth of experience in the field. Known for his contributions to, r00t has authored numerous tutorials and guides, helping users navigate the complexities of Linux systems. His expertise spans across various Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, CentOS, and Debian. r00t's work is characterized by his ability to simplify complex concepts, making Linux more accessible to users of all skill levels. His dedication to the Linux community and his commitment to sharing knowledge makes him a respected figure in the field.
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