Resolving E: The Repository does not have a Release File Error in Debian


If you are a user or an administrator of a Debian-based system such as Ubuntu, you may have encountered an error message similar to “E: The repository ‘ bionic Release’ does not have a Release file”. This issue often arises when attempting to update the system or install new packages using apt-get or any package manager that relies on apt repositories.

Understanding the Error

The error message states that the apt package manager could not find a “Release” file in the provided URL or repository. The “Release” file is a crucial requirement as it contains metadata about the packages available from the repository, their versions, checksums, etc., and guarantees the authenticity and integrity of the packages. If the “Release” file isn’t present or cannot be accessed, the apt package manager refuses to interact with the repository to prevent issues with package installation.

The Cause of the Error

This error typically occurs due to one of the following reasons:

  • You are trying to fetch packages from a repository that does not exist anymore or where the “Release” file has been removed or renamed.
  • You have outdated or incorrect repository information in your source.list file or in the source.list.d directory.
  • The repository might not support your distribution version. For instance, if you’re using Ubuntu Bionic (18.04) and a PPA only supports until Ubuntu Xenial (16.04), the system won’t locate the “Release” file.

How to Solve the Error

1. Check the Validity of the Repository

Firstly, visit the URL given in the error message using a web browser. If the page serves a 404 Not Found, then the repository no longer exists and you have to remove it from your sources list. If it exists but doesn’t contain a ‘bionic’ directory (or the codename of your distribution), it means that this distribution is not supported by the PPA.

2. Update Repository Information

If the repository is correct, you might need to update your repository list. To accomplish this, first, update the package list information using the command:

sudo apt-get update

If you still encounter the error, you should consider removing and re-adding the repository.

3. Remove and Re-add the Repository

To remove the problematic repository, check the sources.list file and the files in the sources.list.d directory:

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list
sudo ls /etc/apt/sources.list.d/

Locate the entry with the PPA’s URL causing the issue, delete it, and save the file. If it is stored in a separate file in the sources.list.d/, then remove that file.

To add the repository back, use:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ondrej/php

And then update your system:

sudo apt-get update


Solving the “E: The repository does not have a Release file” error revolves around verifying the repository, refreshing its local data, or in some cases, deleting and re-adding the repository. The severity of this problem may vary, but by following these steps vigilantly, you should be able to resolve this error successfully.

Remember, when dealing with system files and command lines, always exercise caution to avoid causing further issues on your system.

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