Linux PPAs: Installation, Removal, and Security

Moe Long 12-06-2017

PPA stands for Personal Package Archive. These offer software not bundled in a default Linux operating system. Software installation on Linux Your Guide to Ubuntu Repositories and Package Management Read More is a bit different than on Windows and Mac. Instead, software comes in repositories. But PPAs provide access to third-party programs.


However, while PPAs boast a vast landscape of available software, these package archives create a different operating dynamic. Learn more about Personal Package Archives, from what a PPA is to security considerations, and more.

What Is a PPA?


A Personal Package Archive is a repository of software What Is An Ubuntu PPA & Why Would I Want To Use One? [Technology Explained] Read More which isn’t included in the default Linux operating system installation. Therefore, a PPA is a means to upload source packages as Advanced Packaging Tools (APT) via Launchpad. PPAs are only used within Ubuntu and its derivatives.

Often a PPA concentrates on one specific program. For instance, a PPA may focus on a specific program like Docker that’s not included default Ubuntu install. Yet certain PPAs provide updates for software bundled in Ubuntu like Firefox.

Why Use a PPA?

There’s a clear motivation for PPA use with unreleased software. But what about using a PPA for software included with Ubuntu? PPAs provide faster updates than the vanilla release of Ubuntu. This yield greater control. That’s because you choose which software to update, and Ubuntu handles those through the Ubuntu Update Manager.


Overall, this is a streamlined means to keep software up to date and download regular updates faster than using merely the Ubuntu software center.

How to Add a PPA?


Adding a PPA is fairly simple. Merely open the command line (Ctrl + Alt + T) and type the following to add your required repository, run an update, and install your desired software:

sudo add-apt-repository [repository name]
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install [software name]

Let’s take Open Broadcaster Software Getting Started With Video Game Live Streaming on Linux Video game live streaming rose to prominence with the popularity of platforms like Twitch, but how can you stream your game play from a Linux computer? Read More . To add OBS via the command line you would enter:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:obsproject/obs-studio
sudo apt update && sudo apt install obs-studio

Once that’s complete, your software is properly installed.

How to Remove a PPA

Like most installations, there may come a time when you wish to remove a PPA. Just like adding a PPA differs from installing software via the software center, so too does removing a PPA. There are a few means to accomplish this.

Using the GUI

after ubuntu 16.04 ppas

Since there’s a PPA list under Software and Updates, you can remove PPAs using a graphical user interface (GUI). Navigate to Software and Updates, and click the Other Software tab. Look for the PPA you with to remove from the list and check the box next to it. Then click the button at the bottom of that screen that says remove. This remains the simplest means to remove a PPA.


Using the Remove Flag

You can uninstall a PPA using the --remove flag. This operates in a similar fashion to how you installed the PPA. In a command line, run:

sudo apt-add-repository --remove ppa:ppa_name/ppa

It’s a straightforward method for removing a PPA using the command line.

Using the APT Method

Alternatively, you can use the PPA purge method:

sudo apt-get install ppa-purge

Then to complete the purge you’ll need to downgrade packages it provided via the official repositories. You’ll need to use the URL of the PPA which can be found under the Software Sources list:

sudo ppa-purge ppa-url

This requires a little more work. Especially if you have to look up the PPA URL in the Software Sources list, you may as well just use the GUI removal method. But if you already know the URL or have it in your clipboard, it’s worth using.

PPA Security Considerations

Image Credit: stevepb via Pixabay

Just as with an EXE on Windows, a PPA arrives with security concerns. Three main components clarify the safety of a PPA:

  1. The maker.
  2. Number of users.
  3. Frequency of updates.

Who made a PPA yields information on reliability. Since PPAs are community creations, anyone can make one. But official PPAs from the likes of Wine are about as safe as you can find. A PPA from a well-known maintainer is generally reliable. Whereas a PPA from Rando Calrissian Ubuntu user may not be as safe. This could be intentional, or unintentionally harmful like a corrupt package.

The number of users merely means greater data on package safety. It’s the same concept as downloading software or a torrent (please only torrent legally 8 Legal Uses for BitTorrent: You'd Be Surprised Like HTTP, which your browser uses to communicate with websites, BitTorrent is just a protocol. You could use your browser to download pirated content, just as you could use a BitTorrent client to download pirated... Read More ). A torrent with more seeders will download faster so there’s that benefit. But usually highly seeded torrents feature a thriving comments section with user feedback on aspects like video and audio quality. Similarly, the more users a PPA has, the more trustworthy it likely is.

Finally, there’s the frequency of updates. More updates signals an increasingly reliable and stable PPA. Look for a 1:1 ratio of PPA updates to Linux operating system updates.

Best PPAs Available

ubuntu vivid libreoffice

PPAs are abundant. But which are the best PPAs available for Linux Need More, Or Updated, Software? Try These 7 Ubuntu PPAs Read More installations? LibreOffice is an excellent PPA to add. While LibreOffice is included within the default Ubuntu install, Ubuntu often doesn’t upgrade LibreOffice to the next iteration. Thus, you may consider adding the LibreOffice PPA.

Drivers on Linux can be a challenge. Xorg-Edgers and Oibaf sport the freshest open graphics drivers. This PPA is beneficial for those using open-source drivers. However if you’re running proprietary AMD or Nvidia drivers, this PPA won’t be beneficial.

Gamers should install the PlayDeb and GetDeb PPAs. These install updated versions of both software and games. Because these PPAs prepackage software into a centralized location, installing these applications is much simpler.

While Java isn’t included in default Ubuntu repositories, you can still install it. The manual method is pretty cumbersome. Instead, the Webupd8 Java PPA makes obtaining Java on Linux much easier. This PPA features installers for Java 6, 7, and 8.

Want to run your Windows games and programs on Linux How to Run Windows Apps & Games with Linux Wine Is there any way to get Windows software working on Linux? One answer is to use Wine, but while it can be very useful, it probably should only be your last resort. Here's why. Read More ? Well, Wine is your best bet. To use Wine, you’ll need to add the PPA. The Wine PPA ranks among the most utilized PPAs available. Wine and the PlayOnLinux frontend PlayOnLinux Brings Windows Games & Programs To Linux Read More offer an excellent means to play Windows games old and new How to Play Retro Windows Games on Linux There's something so satisfying about revisiting a retro PC game, like catching up with an old friend after many years apart. But how can you play classic Windows games on Linux? Read More .

Getting Personal: Final Thoughts on PPAs

There many PPAs available from a variety of sources. Installation differs from a Software Center install or single app command line installation. Whether you’re installing a PPA for software not inclued in the vanilla Ubuntu release or simply desire frequent updates, adding PPAs is an essential for updating Ubuntu applications Updating Ubuntu OS & Applications: The Essentials Any Ubuntu User Should Know Updating your Ubuntu operating system and its installed applications is a fairly simple process, but it works very differently from Windows. All the software you install from the Ubuntu Software Center comes from Ubuntu’s software... Read More . You may consider using Y PPA Manage, a GUI for managing Ubuntu PPAs.

Which PPAs are you using? Tell us in the comments!

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  1. Glenn Condrey
    June 14, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    For those who still have 32bit netbooks or can use the Slimjet browser...which is based on Chomium.
    For those who want a newer Chrome based browser...this is the ticket.

    • Glenn Condrey
      June 14, 2017 at 4:43 pm

      sorry...wrong page...

  2. jymm
    June 13, 2017 at 11:56 am

    I use PPA's mostly from Web8 website which has a good reputation for having reliable PPA's. Some are no longer under development, like Grub Customizer, but still work. I don't like using the terminal and the GUI's also make tweaking easier for me personally. I have also used PPA's for graphic and video hardware that are not in the offical Ubuntu repositories.