Keeping Ubuntu backports pinned away

I’ve been keeping the entries for Ubuntu backports in my sources.list for a long time now. They always been commented out though, since I don’t really trust them enough to keep my system up to date with backports. It wasn’t very elegant though so I decided to see if pinning could do the trick. After an email to the Ubuntu user list my /etc/apt/preferences now look like this:

Explanation: Make sure backports is not installed be default
Package: *
Pin: origin ubuntu-backports.mirrormax.net
Pin-Priority: 499

This means that I can keep the backports’ entries in sources.list enabled without being bothered with updating the entire system when doing an apt-get upgrade.

There’s only a minor detail—update-notifier thinks that there are updates available, but once I click it no upgrades are found. I guess there are two pieces of code that checks for upgrades, one doesn’t handle pinning and one does.

[Edited] It seems my whinging about update-notifier's inability to handle pinning was a little premature. It seemed it just needed some time to adapt. Now it’s correctly respecting my whishes not to upgrade any packages available in backports.

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2 Comments

  1. But…

    Wouldn’t this mean that you end up not using the backports to get more up-to-date versions of software (Which is really what the backports are for)?

    What/How do you use the backports after making the change you have just described? Do you get to selectively upgrade some packages using the backports version or something?

    I will be glad if you could explain this – I am a newbie :)

  2. Ubuntonista,

    You’ve got it right, I don’t get the backports packages unless I ask for them explicitly. The easiest way is to use synaptics and force a version.

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