How do I limit the updates that are installed to those from a specific set of repositories? Is this at all possible?
Pinning is a process that allows you to remain on a stable release of Ubuntu (or any other debian system) while grabbing packages from a more recent version. — help.ubuntu.com
You can disable automatic updates from certain repositories without entirely removing them via
To disable automatic updates from repository
repo, add a file
/etc/apt/preferences.d/repo with the following content:
Package: * Pin: release n=repo Pin-Priority: 50
Which will give all packages from this repository a lower priority than already installed packages (which have 100).
For more information
man apt_preferences or check the Ubuntu Community Wiki.
You can specify a release with
-t option. As an example, I have added the following repository to
/etc/apt/sources.list to install Iceweasel latest release:
deb http://mozilla.debian.net/ squeeze-backports iceweasel-release
As you know there is a same package
iceweasel in the official Debian repository. If I want install Iceweasel from this specific release I run:
apt-get install -t squeeze-backports iceweasel
from apt-get manual page:
-t, --target-release, --default-release This option controls the default input to the policy engine, it creates a default pin at priority 990 using the specified release string. This overrides the general settings in /etc/apt/preferences. Specifically pinned packages are not affected by the value of this option. In short, this option lets you have simple control over which distribution packages will be retrieved from. Some common examples might be -t '2.1*', -t unstable or -t sid. Configuration Item: APT::Default-Release; see also the apt_preferences(5) manual page.
I think this is a better solution.
UPDATE: As @SuB mentioned in the comment, "
-t specifies release not repository name. There is no repository name in Ubuntu (unlike RedHat based linux such as RHEL,Fedora,CentOS, ...)".
You need to pin the repositories you don't want to install from with a priority less than 100. Which means (from
apt_preference man page)
100 <= P < 500
causes a version to be installed unless there is a version available belonging to some other distribution or the installed version is more recent
And to select a repository for pinning, you'd use fields from repositories'
Release file. Such as
version etc. By specifying the values of these fields, you can precisely select a repository and assign your preferred priority to it. Check the apt_preference page for more details.
Before proceeding, we need to know some important thing about pinning. Those includes
Releasefiles and It's mapping to
Format of apt preference files
Releasefiles fields to set priority
1. Fields of
Release file and
apt-cache policy output
From Debian Wiki article
You would see output from
apt-cache policy like these
500 http://mirrors.ircam.fr/pub/ubuntu/archive xenial/main amd64 Packages release v=16.04,o=Ubuntu,a=xenial,n=xenial,l=Ubuntu,c=main,b=amd64
The values in these lines comes from
Description sets the description for a repository. This is not shown in
Label it is the label of the repository. Many repositories have empty labels. It's shown in
l=<label>in the output.
Origin this tells about the origin of the repository. Official Ubuntu repository has
Ubuntuas the value. Shown as
o=in the output
Version is the version of a distribution. It's 16.04 for Xenial. Shown as
v=in the output
Suite is same as Archive. From debian wiki it's is The name of the distribution of Debian the packages in this directory belong to (or are designed for), i.e. stable, testing or unstable.. For Ubuntu, these are
release-securityetc. For example,
xenial-security. It's shown in the output as
a=xenial-security. PPAs use just the release name for this, that's why it won't help much in Pinning.
Component tells about the licencing thing. It's
universein Ubuntu. In the output it's shown as
c=restrictedetc. Most PPAs use
mainfor this field, thus it doesn't help in pinning much either.
Architecture is about the OS architecture. Shown as
b=amd64in the output
Codename is the release name of the distribution. For 16.04 it is
xenial. For 14.04 it is
trusty. Shown in
apt-cache policyoutput as
n=trusty. It's same for all repositories for a single distribution usually. That's why it doesn't help in pinning much.
The other line in
apt-cache policy output starting with
origin tells the Internet origin of the repository. It also can be used in pinning. But should not be mixed with
Origin field. Those are different.
We'll use these values to pin a repository.
So, how do we use pinning1 to restrict repository?
There are several ways to control pinning and only a small-subset is effective for Ubuntu. A details explanation is beyond the scope of the answer though. Please refer to
apt_preference man-page for this.
2. Pin file format
Pin or apt preference files reside in
/etc/apt/preferences.d folder. Each pinning contain three lines.
First line starts with
Package:and a comma-seperated package names follow. Regular expressions and globs are allowed
Second line starts with
Pin:and it is used to target a set of packages.
If we want to pin packages from
xenial-updates, we'll use
If we want to pin version 5.0, we'll use
version 5.0here. Glob pattens are allowed.
Or if we want to pin packages from origin
http://archive.ubuntu.com, we'll use
origin "archive.ubuntu.com". Note, we don't write
Third line starts with
Pin-Priority:and it's value is a number. Which signifies the priority of the targeted items above.
Release files fields to set priority
Here is an example
Package: * Pin: release a=xenial Pin-Priority: 1001
In this example, packages from
xenial archives are given higher priority than
After pinning, running an
apt-cache policy nautilus shows that it indeed has given higher priority to a lower version from
xenial archive over a higher-versioned from
xenial-updates archive. Notice the
nautilus: Installed: 1:3.18.5-0ubuntu1~xenial1 Candidate: 1:3.18.4.is.3.14.3-0ubuntu4 Version table: *** 1:3.18.5-0ubuntu1~xenial1 100 100 /var/lib/dpkg/status 1:3.18.4.is.3.14.3-0ubuntu5 500 500 http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial-updates/main amd64 Packages 1:3.18.4.is.3.14.3-0ubuntu4 1001 500 http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial/main amd64 Packages
But, If we want to give priority over PPA provided packages too, this won't work. Because PPAs use same archive name
xenial by default. So, assigning a priority to
a=xenial will also apply to those packages. For example (after enabled PPA),
13:31 $ apt-cache policy nautilus nautilus: Installed: 1:3.18.5-0ubuntu1~xenial1 Candidate: 1:3.18.5-0ubuntu1~xenial1 Version table: *** 1:3.18.5-0ubuntu1~xenial1 1001 500 http://ppa.launchpad.net/budgie-remix/ppa/ubuntu xenial/main amd64 Packages 500 http://ppa.launchpad.net/gnome3-team/gnome3/ubuntu xenial/main amd64 Packages 100 /var/lib/dpkg/status 1:3.18.4.is.3.14.3-0ubuntu5 500 500 http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial-updates/main amd64 Packages 1:3.18.4.is.3.14.3-0ubuntu4 1001 500 http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial/main amd64 Packages
Now the candidate version is from a PPA. Both packages from
xenial archive of official Ubuntu repo and the PPA have same priority
1001, because both of them use same value for
Archive in Release file. To successfully pin, we need to combine more fields in Pin file.
Pin a PPA repository
To pin packages from a repository, we need to target it using the information found from
apt-cache policy command. We just saw that
a=xenial won't help pin-pointing a repository. We need to use multiple fields together using comma in a preference file to precisely target a repository.
For example, to prevent all packages from
http://ppa.launchpad.net/oibaf/graphics-drivers/ ppa, we can use
Package: * Pin: release n=xenial,o=LP-PPA-oibaf-graphics-drivers Pin-Priority: 10
Here we are using the codename value as well as
Origin value of the PPA. (Though codename value is not required here actually). Sometimes repository may miss these value. In those cases, some other techniques should be used. The output of
apt-cache policy libgl1-mesa-glx says that it works. It lowered the priority of all packages of this PPA.
libgl1-mesa-glx: Installed: 12.1~git1608200730.16ef7a~gd~x Candidate: 12.1~git1608200730.16ef7a~gd~x Version table: *** 12.1~git1608200730.16ef7a~gd~x 100 -10 http://ppa.launchpad.net/oibaf/graphics-drivers/ubuntu xenial/main amd64 Packages 100 /var/lib/dpkg/status 11.2.0-1ubuntu2.1 500 500 http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial-updates/main amd64 Packages 11.2.0-1ubuntu2 500 500 http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial/main amd64 Packages
Ignore the fact that it is Candidate. This happended, because It is already installed in my system. Check the priority at the right
Pin a repository when release info is missing
If we want to pin a repository whose release information is missing, like this one
http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/sarimkhan/xUbuntu_14.04, we must use other method. Since, no other repository is using that origin, we can safely use
origin to pin this repository.
Package: * Pin: origin download.opensuse.org Pin-Priority: 10
Note 1: This origin is the Internet origin, not the one which specifies Vendor in the Release file.
Pin-Priority number has special meaning. Check
apt_preference manual page for details.
A gui based alternative would be to open software centre and select edit > software sources...
all you need to do is un-tick the repositories you don't want updates from.
Hope this helps
Obvious choice is to modify
/etc/apt/sources.list and comment out all other repositories, and then run
apt-get update && apt-get upgrade && apt-get autoclean
And then remove comments from
sources.list. Maybe not the best way, but at least
apt-get man pages do not specify any way to do that.
On related note, for example Ubuntu distribution upgrade process disables all 3rd party repositories during upgrade (and do not just run some option to exclude those temporarily).
One other GUI option is to just choose the origin in Synaptic package manager.
- Search for the package name you want to install
- Click the Origin button
- Choose the repository you want to install from
- Choose the packages