Solving the E: The Repository Does Not Have a Release File Error on Debian Systems


Hello fellow system administrators! Today, let’s tackle a common issue encountered when trying to update or install packages on Debian systems: the “E: The repository … does not have a Release file” error. This error commonly appears when our apt package management utility interacts with repositories that no longer have a functioning Release file. While mentioned error message specifically references a PHP PPA (Personal Package Archive), this issue could involve any package repository.

The Issue in Depth

Understanding the issue begins with knowing what a Release file is. Apt requires a Release file for each repository to index available packages and to ensure their authenticity. Every time you execute `apt-get update`, the system retrieves these Release files. If the file is missing or unreachable, you’ll encounter our protagonist – the “no Release file” error.

The mentioned PHP PPA seems to be an Ubuntu repository, while your system is a Debian one. Although Ubuntu is based on Debian, their repositories are not always compatible due to differences in system libraries and packages versions. So, trying to use an Ubuntu PPA on several Debian versions might lead to this error.


The error message tells us exactly what the problem is: The repository does not provide a Release file. Thus, our roadmap to solving it encompasses two main steps:

1. Identifying the problematic repository:

This step is particularly necessary if the error message doesn’t precisely point out the faulty repository. Luckily in our case, it has been very clear: bionic.

2. Removing or replacing the problematic repository:

Once we have identified the repository, the solution to our problem involves either removing it from the list of apt sources or changing it from an Ubuntu to a Debian source, provided it’s available.

Removing the repository:

To remove the repository, you can open the apt sources file with a text editor, like nano:

nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Once inside the file, you need to comment out or delete the line containing the mentioned repository. To comment out a line, add a ‘#’ at the beginning of the line.

After saving and closing the file, run:

apt-get update
You should no longer see the error. If the package you need is not available from other repositories, you might need to hunt for a Debian-specific source.

Replacing the repository (optional):

In case you need packages from the problematic repository, search for a compatible Debian repository and add it to the sources.list file. You can follow these steps:

1. Look up a Debian-compliant repository and get its URL.
2. Open the sources list (nano /etc/apt/sources.list).
3. Comment out or delete the problematic repository.
4. Below it, add a new line with ‘deb ‘ and the URL of your new repository.
5. Save the file and close it.

Following these steps should resolve the error and allow your system to update smoothly from all available repositories.


As intimidating as error messages can be, they often contain solutions within them. In this case, the absence of a Release file in a repository hinders your apt utility from updating, and removing or replacing the offending repository should quickly solve the problem. Happy administering!

Author: admin

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