How safe is a Personal Packaging Archive(PPA)?

By | January 20, 2017


Ubuntu is very software rich. That is, there’re a lot of applications that can easily be installed from the “official” Ubuntu Software Centre. But there are some applications that can only be obtained by adding a PPA to your Linux system. Then the question that should lurk in the minds of a user considering using a PPA should be: how safe is it?

We’d be highlighting some tips users should put in mind when dealing with a PPA.


This is the most important aspect to consider before using a PPA. Remember a PPA can be created by an individual or organization. The reputation (reliability, consistency, popularity and the likes) of the creator or maintainer would go a long way to rub off on the reputation of the PPA itself – like father like son kind of thing. It all boils down to the issue of trust – how much are you willing to risk as a user? For instance an official PPA from the VLC project (e.g. ppa:vlc_project/vlc_player) and a PPA created by me would not carry the same amount of trust from you. You don’t “know” me as a PPA maintainer, so you’d trust a PPA (and expect it to be safer) from VLC than the one from me. Basically it depends in large way on who made the PPA and how long he has been maintaining it, which will influence how far you perceive the PPA as safe.

READ: What is a PPA?


Assuming you have two PPAs: one that thousands of people have used (and commented favourably) and another one that only a few hundred people have used and commented on. Naturally you would assume that the former is safer. This is because for thousands of users to be using the PPA, it means they trust it and you would likely do too.

READ: How to add a PPA to your System.


Assuming you’ve been looking for a favourite application for a long time, and then you recently stumbled on it on the internet and the only way to install it is through a PPA. Would you go ahead to install if you find out that the last time it was updated was like ten years ago? Your answer would be good a mine. It is very obvious that going ahead to installing it would lead to a lot of dependency issues (being optimistic) and it won’t work, ending up destroying your system altogether. Considering the fact that Ubuntu itself is constantly being updated. And a PPA is usually created for a particular Ubuntu version or group of versions.

Then you might start looking for another PPA that is more recent and updated.

A of caution to all new comers to Linux (Ubuntu and it derivatives), it is a good idea to stay away from software installation using PPA. But if you’ve become comfortable with it and want to get your hands dirty for academic purposes feel free to explore. BE CAREFUL, ASK QUESTIONS AND MAKE REGULAR BACKUPS.

Happy Linux’NG!


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