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I'm on Ubuntu 10.04, and trying to set up a repository using reprepro. I'd also like the pin everything in that repository to be preferred over anything else, even if packages are older versions. (It will only contain a select set of packages.)

However, I cannot seem to get the pinning to work, and believe it has something to do with the repository side of things, rather than the apt configuration on the client.

I've taken the following steps to set up my repository

  • Installed a web server (my personal choice here is Cherokee),
  • Created the directory /var/www/apt/,
  • Created the file conf/distributions, like so:

    Origin: Shteef
    Label: Shteef
    Suite: lucid
    Version: 10.04
    Codename: lucid
    Architectures: i386 amd64 source
    Components: main
    Description: My personal repository
  • Ran reprepro export from the /var/www/apt/ directory.

Now on any other machine, I can add this (empty) repository over HTTP to my /etc/apt/sources.list, and run apt-get update without any errors:

Ign http://archive.lan lucid Release.gpg
Ign http://archive.lan/apt/ lucid/main Translation-en_US
Get:1 http://archive.lan lucid Release [2,244B]
Ign http://archive.lan lucid/main Packages
Ign http://archive.lan lucid/main Sources
Ign http://archive.lan lucid/main Packages
Ign http://archive.lan lucid/main Sources
Hit http://archive.lan lucid/main Packages
Hit http://archive.lan lucid/main Sources

In my case, now I want to use an old version of Asterisk, namely Asterisk 1.4. I rebuilt the asterisk-1: package from Ubuntu 9.04 (with some small changes to fix dependencies) and uploaded it to my repository.

At this point I can see the new package in aptitude, but it naturally prefers the newer Asterisk 1.6 currently in the Ubuntu 10.04 repositories. To try and fix that, I have created /etc/apt/preferences.d/personal like so:

Package: *
Pin: release o=Shteef
Pin-Priority: 1000

But when I try to install the asterisk package, it will still prefer the 1.6 version over my own 1.4 version. This is what apt-cache policy asterisk shows:

  Installed: (none)
  Candidate: 1:
  Version table:
     1: 0
        500 lucid/universe Packages
     1: 0
        500 http://archive.lan/apt/ lucid/main Packages

Clearly, it is not picking up my pin. In fact, when I run just apt-cache policy, I get the following:

Package files:
 100 /var/lib/dpkg/status
     release a=now
 500 http://archive.lan/apt/ lucid/main Packages
     origin archive.lan
 500 lucid-security/multiverse Packages
     release v=10.04,o=Ubuntu,a=lucid-security,n=lucid,l=Ubuntu,c=multiverse

Unlike Ubuntu's repository, apt doesn't seem to pick up a release-line at all for my own repository. I'm suspecting this is the cause why I can't pin on release o=Shteef in my preferences file. But I can't find any noticable difference between my repository's Release files and Ubuntu's that would cause this.

Is there a step I've missed or mistake I've made in setting up my repository?


Thanks to some help by maxb on #ubuntu-server, I was able to find out some more about what's going on.

It looks like apt downloads package lists into /var/lib/apt/lists/. There's a subdirectory there called partial, which the manpage apt-cache(8) describes as:

Storage area for state information in transit.

But my repository Release file gets stuck in there, and is never copied to the parent lists directory. I can get the pinning to work if I do this step manually:

$ mv /var/lib/apt/lists/partial/archive.lan* /var/lib/apt/lists/
$ rm -f /var/cache/apt/*.bin
$ apt-cache policy
Package files:
 100 /var/lib/dpkg/status
     release a=now
1000 http://puppet.motto/apt/ lucid/main Packages
     release v=10.04,o=Motto,a=lucid,n=lucid,l=Motto,c=main
     origin puppet.motto
 500 lucid-security/multiverse Packages
     release v=10.04,o=Ubuntu,a=lucid-security,n=lucid,l=Ubuntu,c=multiverse

But the manual step is undesirable, of course.

I also noticed that the Sources file is missing in my repository, but Sources.gz is generated. Recreating the Sources file by unzipping Sources.gz creates a file that matches the size and hashes in the Release file. But it doesn't appear to fix my problem.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I managed to solve this by having reprepro sign the Release files. For reference, this is done with the SignWith option in conf/distributions, and is documented in the reprepro(1) manpage.

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And, slightly unrelated, I also found out that aptitude (not apt-get) is buggy, and ignores /etc/apt/preferences.d/, only picking up pins in /etc/apt/preferences. (pbuilder uses aptitude by default.) – Shtééf May 6 '10 at 17:25

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