Chef Cookbook for managing Apt sources for official Debian repositories
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recipes Include `backports` recipe always on `backports_sloppy` Jul 14, 2015

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Chef cookbook for managing Apt sources for official Debian repositories.

This cookbook can be used to configure the whole system for all the wanted sources (stable, security, stable-updates, etc.). Just including the "default" recipe to the run list gives a sensible default.

Individual recipes can also be used by other cookbooks that need packages for example from the backports repository.


Intended for use in Debian, but could be modified for other Apt based platforms. Tested on Debian 8 (jessie), 7 (wheezy), and 6.0 (squeeze).

Notifications of the debian_repository resource require Chef 11 or newer. Otherwise the cookbook should also work with Chef 10.

Requires apt community cookbook version 1.9 - 2.x (note also the apt cookbook requirements).


The default recipe configures /etc/apt/sources.list using the mirror and components specified by node attributes. It also includes other recipes if specified via node attributes.

The other recipes configure apt to use the corresponding Debian repository:


Attribute Description Default
node['debian']['mirror'] Default Debian mirror URI ""
node['debian']['backports_mirror'] Mirror URI for backports repository node['debian']['mirror'] (on Squeeze derived from it)
node['debian']['security_mirror'] Mirror URI for security repository ""
node['debian']['components'] Default repository components ["main", "contrib", "non-free"]
node['debian']['deb_src'] If true, enables apt source lines by default false

The following attributes specify if the corresponding recipe/repository is included by the default recipe:

Attribute Default
node['debian']['backports'] false
node['debian']['backports_sloppy'] false
node['debian']['security'] true
node['debian']['stable_lts'] true on Squeeze, false otherwise
node['debian']['stable_proposed_updates'] false
node['debian']['stable_updates'] true
node['debian']['testing'] false
node['debian']['unstable'] false

Resources and Providers


Sets up Debian repository and optionally pinning preferences using apt_repository LWRP. This is used internally by the recipes, but feel free if you find usage for it in your own cookbooks.

Attribute parameters:

  • repo_name - Name_attribute. The name of the repository and configuration files.
  • uri - The base URI of the repository. Defaults to node['debian']['mirror'].
  • distribution - Name attribute. The distribution part of apt source line.
  • components - The components part of apt source line. Defaults to node['debian']['components'].
  • deb_src - If true, enables apt source line too. Defaults to node['debian']['deb_src'].
  • pin_priority - The default pinning priority for the repository. Defaults to nil which means that no preferences are set.


# feel the history
debian_repository "woody" do
  uri ""
  pin_priority 200


If you want to manage /etc/apt/souces.list with Chef, add the default recipe to the run list, preferably as the first one. The default recipe also includes "apt::default" recipe, so you don't need to add it.

Then you can also specify which additional repositories are configured by setting node['debian']['<repo>'] attributes to true or false. By default a standard set is included. The other option is to add the wanted repositories (e.g. recipe[debian::backports]) directly to the run list.

The default base URI ( should be fine for most cases as it redirects to a geographically closest mirror. You can also to set it explicitly for example in a role:

  :debian => {
    :mirror => ""

Other cookbooks that need packages from a specific repository should depend on this cookbook, include the corresponding repository recipe and possibly add apt-pinning rules for the packages as needed. Example:

# configure
include_recipe "debian::backports"

# set apt-pinning rules
%w[thepackage and some dependencies].each do |pkg|
  apt_preference pkg do
    pin "release o=Debian Backports"
    pin_priority "700"

# install the package
package "thepackage"

License and Author

Author:: Teemu Matilainen <>

Copyright © 2011-2015, Reaktor Innovations Oy

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0. See LICENSE.