What is it and why do I want a BACKPORT

Two weekends ago it was held in the city where I live Freedom Day software.

During the event, I heard the word back port. I could have consulted right there what is a backport, surrounded by specialists in GNU / Linux, but I was left with the doubt and, at home, I dedicated myself to research.

Sometimes I think we should create a category called "Explanations I need in Spanish and I find them in Mandarin Chinese"Because of all the explanations I found, none clarified absolutely anything for me.

Let's see what Wikipedia says:

Un back port is the action of Make modifications o create a patch to a software with an older version than the existing one.


Yes, exactly, that was my expression when reading that clarifying and magnificent explanation.

Therefore, I consulted two "advisors”:) to clarify the matter for me. The answers I got to the question What is a backport? They were the following:

Benji he told me:

[…]… They make a patch and apply it to previous versions also because it is a legacy problem or a patch from a previous version, it is applied to a newer version like feature… […]

Well, we can say then that a backport is a patch that is made to correct a bug in an X version of a package. In the new version of this package, the backport is already an acquired functionality, that is: it is a feature of the version. What about the old versions? Does the error hold? No: the backport, precisely, corrects that fault. There is, somehow, a backwards compatibility (strange and difficult question to understand for someone who, like me, is somehow used to correcting errors in the new version).

Just in case, I also consulted ReNa (an old acquaintance on this blog), who clarified the picture a bit more.

ReNa told me:

[…]… Is when you make packages from another version enter one version of an OS, for example, to have a more up-to-date version of X package.
A lot is done in stable versions, like Debian Lenny, which have older packages, and if you need a new little program, you make a backport to have it in Debian Lenny… […]

Ah, so: I compile the new program on the old version of the OS and that's it?

[…]… It's not really compiling it, but downloading it from repositories.
That is, a backport is made in the repositories to be able to download the version of the program that is newer… […]

Then, backports don't fix bugs only, they help me to use a new version (call it unstable, updated, improved, etc.) in my current GNU / Linux distribution. To make a backport, is there a need to have a bug or something like that, or can I download it to have a more updated version, or both?

[…]… No no, you do it if you want, you don't have to meet any conditions… […]

In conclusion: backports do not seem to be anything extremely complex, or otherworldly. They don't seem so worrisome once you know what it is, do they?

I'm sure there must be famous backports, so if any of those who read us know any (or did a backport) I invite you to tell us.

What was your last backport?

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  1.   Marcelo said

    Very interesting. Thanks for the explanation, N @ ty. I read that little word "backport" many times and I always wonder what it was. For X reasons, I always postponed the search for its meaning, and now your post has disturbed me on the subject. Thanks!

  2.   Sheng said

    Let's see if I understand ... A backport is a patch that is released for previous versions of a program, but is applied to new versions?

    eg: you release a patch for firefox 3.0, but in 3.5 they use the same patch to correct a bug?

  3.   deby.nqn said

    Very good explanation, thank you very much and since we are here I leave for you N @ ty and for all the girls a video that encourages us to continue working in technology, long live the technical women !!!

  4.   seth said

    I used backports a couple of times to get squeeze packs on Lenny


  5.   bawatako said

    excellent article, and the blog is actually very good. I came from an article highlighted by the guys from neoteo and the truth is that I was stuck.
    look at an example of backport is the classic version of puppy linux, which is a linux live cd distro for computers with low hardware resources, they developed their main version (puppy linux 4.3.1) with the latest linux kernel (2.6.31. 2.6.31), but there are some very old computers that do not go well with the 2.6.26 kernel so a backport was made that would be the classic version where it was replaced by the XNUMX kernel but the rest of the distro is everything the same software and configuration package but with the old kernel to give more stability and compatibility


  6.   Marta said

    That I come to find out what a backport is 7 years after you have written this is amazing.
    Thanks for the clarification.

  7.   01101001b said

    Good article. And yes, a very simple idea is confused.

    A backport is NOT a software, it is an action on a software to make it work in a previous version of the OS for which it was not originally intended.

    For example, a patch. If (as Wikipedia says) the application 2.0 has things to fix, a patch is made. If it turned out that the previous version (application1.0) had the same problem but the code was somewhat different, it would be necessary to modify the patch, making a "port" of the patch so that it works with that previous version … A "backport" (of the patch). Colloquially it would be said that «the patch is a backport».

    It also applies if you want a program with a higher version number (than the stable version) but designed for the * next * version of your OS (THAT is what differentiates it from being a program update and that's it).

    If someone could modify that ultra-recent version to work on an older version of the OS than planned (for that version of the program), they would "port" the program "back" (again, a "backport").