What are PPA’s and How to Use Them?

Most tools/packages are officially available on Ubuntu or its distributions. Only a few of them are not, and what if you want to use them? This is where Personal Package Archive or PPA comes up, and those packages that are not officially available can be installed. Developers use the PPAs to distribute software unavailable via the official Ubuntu repositories.

Considering the importance of PPAs, this post provides a brief overview of the PPAs and also describes how to use them:

  • What are PPAs, and why are They Useful?
  • What is Meant by Repositories in Ubuntu?
  • Working of PPAs
  • Add a PPA
  • Remove a PPA
  • Is PPA Safe?
  • Official PPA vs. Unofficial PPA
  • Remove PPA Repository 

What are PPAs, and Why are They Useful?

PPA is a software archiving method developed and maintained by Canonical Launchpad. Developers use these to distribute the software and its updates because several tests are done before it is made available officially.

The PPAs are helpful for the developers to provide the users with quick updates, which could take more time if done officially. PPAs can also be used for beta testing as the developers can release an update, receive feedback, and adjust based on that.

The PPA repositories are stored in the “sources.list” file. To view it, use this command: 

$ sudo vim /etc/apt/sources.list

The “/etc/apt/sources.list” file lists all the URLs from which the packages are fetched to a Ubuntu/Debian-based system.

Official PPA vs. Unofficial PPA

Ubuntu’s developer’s team recommends using the official PPAs because of security issues. The difference between official PPA and unofficial PPA is explained below:

Official PPA

Official PPAs are trusted in security-related terms as they are usually managed and supported by Ubuntu’s development team. These are useful when a new software version is up for distribution but unavailable on the standard repositories.

Unofficial PPA

Other developers create unofficial PPA Unofficial PPAs without connection with Ubuntu’s developer team. They are unreliable and considered harmful as they can have malware. The older packages need to be better maintained, which causes compatibility issues.

How Do PPAs Work?

The Launchpad is the platform developers use to host PPAs, providing the software’s distribution facility. The PPAs are not official repositories, but they can be used as a supplement to the official ones.

Users can include the PPA of that software in the “sources.list file. Adding this makes the system’s package manager acknowledge the availability of the software. Let’s discuss the working of PPA.

How to add a PPA?

To add a PPA into the system, let’s consider this example of installing an Audio Recorder.

Install Audio Recorder

The audio recorder is software used to record audio on the system, and it is not in Ubuntu’s official repositories.

Let’s try to install it:

$ sudo apt install audio-recorder

As expected, the package manager is showing “E: Unable to locate package audio-recorder,” so to fix it, let’s add its repository using this command:

$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:audio-recorder/ppa

Here, you will be asked to press “Enter,” and then it will add the repository to the system. Now, let’s try to install the audio recorder again:

$ sudo apt install audio-recorder

The above image is the confirmation that the audio recorder is installed.

How to Remove PPA Repository From Ubuntu?

To remove a PPA Repository from the system, view their list first using this command:

$ ls /etc/apt/sources.list.d

The above image shows the system’s PPAs and includes an audio recorder repository. Let’s remove it using this command:

$ sudo rm /etc/apt/sources.list.d/audio-recorder-ubuntu-ppa-jammy.list

Other methods to remove PPA Repositories are discussed in this guide. After removing it, let’s confirm it by viewing the list of PPAs again:

$ ls /etc/apt/sources.list.d

In the above image, the repository for the audio recorder cannot be seen, meaning it is removed. There is a guide on removing PPA repositories that you can follow for more details. 

Is PPA Safe?

PPAs are mostly from third-party/other developers, and Ubuntu’s developer team cannot look for malware in them, so they are often considered dangerous.

Being a Linux techie, I can confirm that during my journey with Linux, I haven’t encountered any issues with PPAs. One should always be careful, for who knows what is in there.


Developers use Personal Package Archive (PPA) to distribute software unavailable from the official source. The PPA repositories, once added to the “sources.list” file, allow the users to download and install the application hosted on Canonical Launchpad. Using PPAs, developers can distribute their software much faster.

This guide has explained everything about PPAs, and how to use them in detail.