Ubuntu package management is kind of fixed for particular versions. Whenever I add a repository I should indicate codename of my system. But what if the package was released a while ago and older system release is expected? Or vice versa, the newer version of a package is available only for newer releases.

So, what if I add to sources.list repositories indicating "wrong" codename? For example, I have Xenial, but add ppa repositories for Yakkety and Oneiric? What will happen then?

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    Bad things are likely to occur. I do not recommend this course of action. as dependencies and capabilities change from one version to the next. Some alternatives include attempting to install the package you want directly from a downloaded deb package that perhaps you obtained from packages.ubuntu.com or compiling from source is often an effective approach for an individual package. – Elder Geek Feb 10 '17 at 18:15
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    It's colloquially known as dependency hell, easy to cause, hard to fix, not recommended. – mikewhatever Feb 10 '17 at 18:16

Here's how I handle it...

If a repository/PPA has an older version of Ubuntu than I'm currently running, I first make sure that I'm aware of the latest version of Ubuntu that the developer officially supports. I do this by going directly to the developer's software location and checking under the "dists" directory.

This typically happens when a software developer stops updating their application, or has stopped supporting it. The fact is that many old applications still work on current Ubuntu versions. I edit my Software & Updates to refer to the most current version that the developer has.

I'd be careful trying use a repository/PPA for a Ubuntu version more current than my own. The applications may require things that aren't available in my current Ubuntu version. So I never change my configuration to use newer versions.

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