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Dec 29, 2008
When you want to install a testing package on debian stable, the easiest way is to just use backports. But, what happens if you're running Debian testing already and that's not cutting edge enough? You can install from Debian Unstable or Experimental. Here's how I did it, to get the new 2.6 version of Gimp from Debian Experimental.

First.. edit your /etc/apt/sources.list and add the line sources line for the experimental repo. it'll look something like this.
# normal deb repo where I get everything from normally
deb http://http.us.debian.org/debian/ testing main non-free contrib

# where I get all my multimedia stuff so playing movies and music Just Works (tm).
deb http://www.debian-multimedia.org testing main

# security updates
deb http://security.debian.org/ testing/updates main contrib

# I added this so I could get gimp 2.6 from experimental.
deb http://http.us.debian.org/debian/ experimental main non-free contrib
Notice the difference betwen the first line and the last.. testing is where I normally get my packages, experimental is where I'm going to get Gimp.

Once you do that, create a file called /etc/apt/preferences and add the following contents to it.
Package: *
Pin: release a=testing
Pin-Priority: 650

Package: *
Pin: release a=experimental
Pin-Priority: 100
What this does, is forces everything from testing to have a higher priority than the stuff in the experimental repo. This way, packages from experimental will only get installed when you explicitly say so. This is good.

Once you have that, all you gotta do is run apt-get install -t experimental gimp and it will grab the packages and their dependencies, and install them. With luck, the package you want won't depend on a bunch of experimental versions of packages. Fortunately for me, gimp did not, and only required libgimp to be installed as well.

I celebrated and tried out my new cutting edge photo editor.
Tags: linux, debian