Ubuntu – Enabling Respositories Using The Command Line

Installing software or making system changes from the command line can be a great time saver. Editing the repositories list though has always been something that I have done manually – either opening /etc/apt/sources.list with nano or making the necessary changes via the GUI.

Today, for example, I wanted to install Skype in Ubuntu 11.4 which meant enabling the “partner” repository. In /etc/apt/sources.list this would mean manually removing the # from the following line:

# deb http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu natty partner

With a bit of searching though I found a solution that can be adapted to enable any of the existing entries in sources.list.

sudo cp /etc/apt/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list.bak
STOP="deb "
sudo sed -i "/^# $STOP.*$REPO/ s/^# //" /etc/apt/sources.list

The first command simply makes a backup copy of your sources.list file.

In the second line we define the parameter STOP as “deb ” so that we will only edit deb repositories (and not deb-src repositories which are not needed to install Skype).

The third line defines the REPO parameter which in this case contains a character string that is unique to the ubuntu natty partner repository.

The last line uses the sed command to remove the # according to the parameters that we have set.

This script gives a great and easily customizable framework to work from as STOP will either be “deb ” or “deb-src” and REPO will always be something unique to the repository to be enabled.

Kudos to Franklin52 on the The Unix and Linux Forums for the script.

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