Ubuntu’s Repository Configuration: Ubuntu sources have moved to /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ubuntu.sources

Ubuntu, a leading Linux distribution, has evolved its approach to managing software repositories, making it easier for users to handle software sources. The traditional method involved using a single file, /etc/apt/sources.list, but Ubuntu has shifted towards a more modular approach, utilizing the /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ directory. This tutorial explores how the ubuntu.sources file within this directory plays a crucial role in software management and how you can utilize or modify it to suit your needs.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • What the /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ubuntu.sources file is and its structure.
  • How to modify or create new repository files within /etc/apt/sources.list.d/.
Ubuntu sources have moved to /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ubuntu.sources
Ubuntu sources have moved to /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ubuntu.sources
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Ubuntu Linux with the noble release or similar
Software Text editor (nano, vim, etc.)
Other Internet connection for accessing repository URLs
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

Understanding the ubuntu.sources File Structure

The /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ubuntu.sources file is a pivotal component in the Ubuntu package management system, dictating where your system looks for software updates and installations. Here’s a breakdown of its content:

Types: deb
URIs: http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/
Suites: noble noble-updates noble-backports
Components: main restricted universe multiverse
Signed-By: /usr/share/keyrings/ubuntu-archive-keyring.gpg

Types: deb
URIs: http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/
Suites: noble-security
Components: main restricted universe multiverse
Signed-By: /usr/share/keyrings/ubuntu-archive-keyring.gpg

The Ubuntu's original ubuntu.sources apt sources file
The Ubuntu’s original ubuntu.sources apt sources file

The provided configuration details for ubuntu.sources represent a significant component of Ubuntu’s package management system, which is designed to configure the Advanced Packaging Tool (APT) to fetch software packages from designated repositories. This detailed breakdown explains the structure and purpose of each line in the configuration file:

  • Types: This specifies the format of the repository. deb indicates that the repository contains binary packages, which are precompiled and ready to install, as opposed to deb-src, which would denote source code packages that require compilation.
  • URIs: The Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) specify the locations from where the APT system will fetch packages. The provided URIs,
    • http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ points to the United States mirror of the Ubuntu package archive, hosting a vast collection of software compatible with Ubuntu.
    • http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ is dedicated to security updates. It’s a critical resource for ensuring that your system remains secure against known vulnerabilities.
  • Suites: The suites refer to specific sets of packages aligned with different versions or stages of the Ubuntu release cycle. For instance,
    • noble, noble-updates, and noble-backports are linked to the release codenamed “Noble”, with each suite serving a distinct purpose:
      • noble includes the packages that were part of the initial release.
      • noble-updates contains updated packages released after the initial launch to address bugs or minor enhancements.
      • noble-backports offers access to newer versions of some packages that are backported to work with “Noble”.
    • noble-security is specifically for updates that address security vulnerabilities for the “Noble” release.
  • Components: These are categories within a repository that organize packages by their support status or licensing:
    • main houses free and open-source software supported by Ubuntu.
    • restricted contains proprietary drivers and software supported by Ubuntu.
    • universe includes community-maintained free and open-source software.
    • multiverse has software that may not be free or open-source and is not supported by the official Ubuntu team.
  • Signed-By: This line points to the keyring file that contains the public keys used to verify the authenticity of the packages. The specified file, /usr/share/keyrings/ubuntu-archive-keyring.gpg, contains the official Ubuntu archive signing keys. Verifying packages ensures they have not been tampered with and are safe to install.

Understanding and configuring your ubuntu.sources file allows for tailored software management, enabling the installation of software that meets specific needs or preferences, enhancing system security, and ensuring that the software on your Ubuntu system is up to date and functioning as expected.

Modifying and Creating Repository Files in Ubuntu

In Ubuntu, the management of software sources is a critical task for system administrators and users alike. Understanding how to modify existing repository configurations and how to add new repositories is essential for maintaining a secure and efficient system. This article delves into the nuances of handling .list and .sources files within the /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ directory.

Differences Between .list and .sources Files

The /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ directory can contain two types of files that define software repositories for your system: .list and .sources. Understanding the distinction between these two file types is key to effectively managing your software sources.

  • .list Files: Traditionally, Ubuntu and other Debian-based distributions have used .list files to define additional APT software repositories. These files are simple in format and each line in a .list file specifies a single repository. This simplicity makes .list files an easy and straightforward option for adding repositories.
  • .sources Files: The .sources format is a newer addition, introduced to provide a more structured and versatile way to define repositories. These files can include additional metadata and support multiple repository definitions in a single file, making them particularly useful for complex configurations.

Example of a .list File

A typical .list file for a repository might look like this:

deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ noble main restricted
deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ noble main restricted

This example defines binary and source repositories for the ‘focal’ release, including the ‘main’ and ‘restricted’ components.

Example of a .sources File

Conversely, a .sources file offering similar repository information might be structured as follows:

Types: deb deb-src
URIs: http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/
Suites: noble
Components: main restricted
Signed-By: /usr/share/keyrings/ubuntu-archive-keyring.gpg

This format allows for more detailed repository specifications in a unified structure, including the type of packages (binary and source), the URI, suite, components, and signing key information.


Ubuntu’s move to using /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ for repository management offers a more flexible and organized approach to software source management. By understanding and leveraging the ubuntu.sources file, users can tailor their software sources to better suit their needs, ensuring a more secure and customized Ubuntu experience.