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How do i enable some of oldstable (Etch) packages in my stable (Lenny) Debian install? I'm asking especially about last part of line, what do i write there - oldstable? Or that won't work?

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Anywhere you would use the generic dists (stable, testing, unstable), you can use the specific dist codename (woody, sarge, etch, etc.). So for dists that are still supported by the Debian project:

deb etch main contrib non-free

For older, unsupported Debian dists, use Debian archive server:

deb woody main contrib non-free
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It was and not for me – Strayer Apr 23 '12 at 10:47

It typically looks like this:

deb hardy main restricted
deb-src hardy main restricted

Explanation of each field:

  • deb: These repositories contain binaries or precompiled packages. These repositories are required for most users.

  • deb-src: These repositories contain the source code of the packages. Useful for developers.

  • The URI (Uniform Resource Identifier), in this case a location on the internet. See the official mirror list or the self-maintained mirror list to find other mirrors.

  • hardy is the release name or version of your distribution.

  • main & restricted are the section names or components. There can be several section names, separated by spaces.

So for an example etch repository (add it to the end of sources.list):

deb etch main
deb-src etch main

The section names are dependent on the packages you'd like to download. The repository should supply you with the appropriate line for sources.list.

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The question is about Debian, your answer is about Ubuntu. – bahamat Jan 24 '11 at 5:11
@bahamat I used ubuntu repo as an example for an explanation. There are etch repositories at the end of my answer. Thanks for the unqualified downvote. – John T Jan 24 '11 at 5:42

I had to append /debian to the URL to be able to download older dists.

deb etch main contrib non-free

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Actually. The "debian/" part is for the main repos. The backports, security and volatile repos use "debian-backports/", "debian-security/", and "debian-volatile/" respectively.

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