“The repository does not have a release file” error – possible fixes

On Ubuntu-based systems, a popular way to install third party software is to add PPAs, or Personal Package Archives. Those are software repositories designed for Ubuntu users and are easier to install than other third-party repositories. PPAs are often used to distribute pre-release software so that it can be tested, or provide legacy versions for popular applications.

In most cases, the installations sort themselves out without any issues, as the process is well-designed and carefully streamlined. However, you may encounter the "Repository does not have a release file" error as you install a specific application or update the system with apt/apt-get.

This article is going to show you what is "The repository does not have a Release file" and a few possible ways to fix it.

"The repository does not have a Release file" reasons

"The repository does not have a Release file" is the short name for the error. If you encounter it, the full error message may look something like this.

Reading package lists... Done
E: The repository 'http://ppa.launchpad.net/cran/imagemagick/ubuntu focal Release' does not have a Release file.
N: Updating from such a repository can't be done securely, and is therefore disabled by default.
N: See apt-secure(8) manpage for repository creation and user configuration details.

"The repository does not have a Release file" simply means that the PPA repo does not contain the software for your OS version.

The most common reason behind the error message is the PPA repo is the repository itself has not been updated to support the Ubuntu/Debian release you are running.

For example, the example output above indicates that the user is trying to install or update cran/imagemagick PPA on Ubuntu Focal Fossa, which the repository haven't been updated to support.

Fix "The repository does not have a Release file"

Now that you knew the reason behind the error, you can try the following solutions below to fix it.

Remove the outdated PPA

If you don't really want to install the piece of software inside the PPA, you can safely remove it to get the system back to normal. You can either do this by running a few commands or open up Software & Updates app.

In order to remove a PPA with CLI, just open up a Terminal Emulator and run the following command:

sudo add-apt-repository --remove ppa:username/ppaname

Remember to replace ppa:name with the relevant PPA name, in the same syntax. For example:

sudo add-apt-repository --remove ppa:cran/imagemagick

image-20211103092437796

In case you don't remember the PPA name correctly (it should have been a while since it's added to the system), you can use the GNOME built-in Software & Updates application to do the same thing.

On an Ubuntu-based system, follow these steps:

  1. Launch Software & Updates
  2. Switch to Other Software tab
  3. Select the PPA you want to delete
  4. Click “Remove” to remove it

You will be asked to confirm your password and see a prompt to refresh your system’s package list afterwards.

Alternatively, if you’re on Kubuntu or KDE Neon you can head to Muon Discover > Sources > Configure Software Sources to manage the list of installed PPAs on your system.

There might be two separate entries for the same PPA. In this case, one of them contains the software itself and one contains the source code. You should remove both entries to completely remove the PPA from your system.

Search for an up-to-date repository

If you absolutely need the software, you have to search for the up-to-date repository for it. Once you've got the old PPA removed, you may try one of these sources.

Launchpad

Launchpad

Launchpad is a platform for software collaboration and distribution. There are numberous open source applications hosted on Launchpad. For example, if you need PHP, you can find several PPAs containing many different versions or mods, along with detailed installation information on Launchpad.

AppImageHub

image-20211103094251968

AppImage is a new way of package applications so that all their dependencies are included in one single file. If your software is popular, it may already be available in AppImage format. For more information, head over to https://appimage.github.io/apps/.

Snap Store

Snap is another new "virtualized" way of releasing software. A snap is a bundle of an app and its dependencies that works without modification across Linux distributions. Snap Store contains literally thousands of popular applications that can be installed and used across 41 Linux distributions. Because the depencies are included in the package, the application doesn't need to be regularly updated every single OS release, therefore avoid "The repository does not have a Release file" error.

Snap Store

Conclusion

We hope that the article helped you understand the reason behind "The repository does not have a Release file" error message. If you're new to Linux, you may want to checkout our other guides on fixing "apt-get : command not found” and Fixing "unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages", which is two popular APT error that confuses newbies a lot.

If you have any suggestions or spot an error in the article, feel free to leave a comment below to let us know.

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