Adding Repositories to Synaptic

Jack Wallen
Mar 8, 2009
Updated • Jul 8, 2014

If you use a Debian-based Linux distribution then you probably use Synaptic. And if you use Synaptic enough you may have come across an application that it can not find. When you find that combination you will need to add repositories to Synaptic that will allow the system to find and install the application you are looking for. Fortunately you do not have to do any hand editing of a text file (you can if you want'...but you don't HAVE to.) Instead you can use the GUI application Synaptic to handle this task.

Why do applications like Synaptic exist? Simple. Unlike Microsoft Windows where you have to search site after site for applications, or must purchase the boxed goods, Linux likes to have everything in one place. With tools like synaptic Add/Remove Software actually helps you by keeping a vast software repository in one, easy to use, location. That location is helped with GUI front-ends like Synaptic.

In this article you are going to learn how to add the Debian multimedia repository so you can install packages like Acroread. Naturally this is Linux so there is more than one way to conquer this task. But since we want to show just how easy it can be - we want to avoid the command line completely.

Synaptic Main Window
Synaptic Main Window

Before we get to the action I will tell you the actual repository that we are going to add is

The first step is to fire up Synaptic. You will need root (or sudo) access to do this. You can find Synaptic in the Applications menu under Administration. The menu entry will most likely be labeled Add/Remove Software.

When you fire it up you will see the main Synaptic window. From this window you will need to go to the Settings menu and then select the Repository entry.

When the new window opens you will click the New button to start entering a new repository.

Adding a new repository is very simple.

Adding a Repository
Adding a Repository

When you click the New button all you will see is a new line has been added. Take a close look at the image to the right. You can see each repository requires the following information:

URL: The actually address of the repository.

Distribution: This is the release name of the distribution you are using or the name of the repository you are adding.

Sections: This is the various sections of the repository you want to add. Not all repositories will have a section.

For our acroreader repository you will enter the following:

  • URL:
  • Distribution: lenny (this will depend upon the release and the distribution you are using)
  • Sections: main

Once you have added the above click OK and the repository will be added.

Now you have to reload your package information. click Reload to update the package information. You might get an error regarding the new repository GPG key. In the case of the Debian Multimedia repository you only need to click on this link and have Gdebi automatically install the key for you.

Now, once the repositories have reloaded, Acroread will show up in a search in Synaptic. You have sucessfully installed a new repository in Synaptic.

Final Thoughts

It is not often that you will have to add repositories to Synaptic. But there will be the occasion when that special application you want is not included in your current set /etc/apt/sourses.list file. Now you know you can add to that file with little to no trouble.


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  1. Luis said on September 27, 2013 at 11:41 am

    EXCELLENT !!! i have been looking for THIS information for a long time, and now that i found it i just got to say THANK YOU !!

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