Last updated on July 1, 2020 by Dan Nanni
The Debian project is distributed as a collection of packages, 90,000 of them, as of Debian 10 "buster" release. These packages are categorized into three areas:
non-free, mainly based on licensing requirements, e.g., Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG).
main area contains free software that complies with DFSG. The
contrib area contains free software that complies with DFSG, but relies on non-free software for compilation or execution. Finally, the
non-free area contains non-free packages that are not compliant with DFSG but redistributable. The
main repository is considered a part of Debian, but neither
non-free repository is. The latter two are maintained and provided only as a convenience to users.
If you want to install any non-free package maintained by Debian, you need to enable
non-free repositories. To do so, open
/etc/apt/sources.list with a text editor, and append "
contrib non-free" to each source.
The following is an example of
/etc/apt/sources.list for Debian 10 "buster" Release.
deb http://deb.debian.org/debian/ buster main contrib non-free deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian/ buster main contrib non-free deb http://security.debian.org/debian-security buster/updates main contrib non-free deb-src http://security.debian.org/debian-security buster/updates main contrib non-free # buster-updates, previously known as 'volatile' deb http://deb.debian.org/debian buster-updates main contrib non-free deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian buster-updates main contrib non-free
After modifying sources of packages, run the following command to download package index files for
$ sudo apt update
If you are using
aptitude, run the following instead.
$ sudo aptitude update
Now you are ready to search and install any non-free package on Debian.
$ apt search nonfree
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