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Packaging Guide

9. Backporting software updates

Sometimes you might want to make new functionality available in a stable release which is not connected to a critical bug fix. For these scenarios you have two options: either you upload to a PPA or prepare a backport.

9.1. Personal Package Archive (PPA)

Using a PPA has a number of benefits. It is fairly straight-forward, you don’t need approval of anyone, but the downside of it is that your users will have to manually enable it. It is a non-standard software source.

The PPA documentation on Launchpad is fairly comprehensive and should get you up and running in no time.

9.2. Official Ubuntu Backports

The Backports Project is a means to provide new features to users. Because of the inherent stability risks in backporting packages, users do not get backported packages without some explicit action on their part. This generally makes backports an inappropriate avenue for fixing bugs. If a package in an Ubuntu release has a bug, it should be fixed either through the Security Update or the Stable Release Update process, as appropriate.

Once you determined you want a package to be backported to a stable release, you will need to test-build and test it on the given stable release. pbuilder-dist (in the ubuntu-dev-tools package) is a very handy tool to do this easily.

To report the backport request and get it processed by the Backporters team, you can use the requestbackport tool (also in the ubuntu-dev-tools package). It will determine the intermediate releases that package needs to be backported to, list all reverse-dependencies, and file the backporting request. Also will it include a testing checklist in the bug.