Configuring APT sources.list: A Quick Reference Guide for Debian Systems

When working with Debian systems, it’s crucial to have the right APT sources.list configuration for accessing software packages. This is especially true in situations where you’re setting up a new system, recovering from a failure, or maintaining older versions of Debian. The APT sources.list file tells the Advanced Package Tool (APT) where to fetch packages from. This guide aims to provide a quick reference for setting up the APT sources.list on various Debian systems, covering both current and archived versions. It’s important to note that when Debian versions are no longer supported, their repositories are moved to an archive status. In such cases, it is necessary to update the sources.list file by replacing the ‘deb’ URLs with ‘archive’ URLs to continue accessing packages.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • How to set up APT sources.list for Debian systems
  • The correct sources.list entries for both current and archived Debian releases
  • How to modify the sources.list for archived Debian versions
Configuring APT sources.list: A Quick Reference Guide for Debian Systems
Configuring APT sources.list: A Quick Reference Guide for Debian Systems
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Debian-based systems
Software APT (Advanced Package Tool)
Other Internet connection for accessing APT repositories
Conventions # – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Apt sources.list for emergency and quick setup.

These might be handy when working with current and legacy systems.

Debian 12 (Bookworm)

Active mirrors:

deb bookworm main contrib non-free
deb bookworm-updates main contrib non-free
deb bookworm-security main contrib non-free

Debian 11 (Bullseye)

Active mirrors:

deb bullseye main contrib non-free
deb bullseye-updates main contrib non-free
deb bullseye-security main contrib non-free

Debian 10 (Buster)

Active mirrors:

deb buster main non-free contrib
deb buster-updates main non-free contrib
deb buster/updates main non-free contrib

When Debian Versions are Archived

As Debian versions become obsolete, their repositories are archived. In this scenario, you need to replace the ‘deb’ URL with ‘archive’ in your sources.list to access packages. For example:

Debian 9 (Stretch) – Archived

deb stretch main contrib non-free
deb stretch-proposed-updates main contrib non-free
deb stretch/updates main contrib non-free

Debian 8 (Jessie) – Archived

deb jessie main contrib non-free
deb jessie/updates main contrib non-free

Debian 7 (Wheezy) – Archived

deb wheezy main contrib non-free
deb wheezy/updates main contrib non-free


Having the correct APT sources.list is fundamental for system setup and maintenance, ensuring access to necessary software packages. This guide provides a concise reference for configuring APT sources on Debian systems, from the latest release back to older archived versions. Always ensure your system’s sources.list is up to date to maintain access to security updates and new packages. For archived versions, remember to modify the sources.list file by replacing ‘deb’ with ‘archive’ in the URLs. This adjustment is crucial for continuing access to repositories after Debian versions are archived. Following these guidelines will help you manage your Debian systems effectively, whether you’re setting up new machines, maintaining current ones, or ensuring continuity of service on older systems.

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