Using the free channel#

The free channel contains packages created prior to September 26, 2017. Prior to conda 4.7, the free channel was part of the defaults channel. Read more about the defaults channel.

Removing the free channel reduced conda's search space and hid old software. That old software could have incompatible constraint information. Read more about why we made this change.

If you still need the content from the free channel to reproduce old environments, you can re-add the channel following the directions below.

Adding the free channel to defaults#

If you want to add the free channel back into your default list, use the command:

conda config --set restore_free_channel true

The order of the channels is important. Using the above command will restore the free channel in the correct order.

Changing .condarc#

You can also add the free channel back into your defaults by changing the .condarc file itself.

Add the following to the conda section of your .condarc file:

restore_free_channel: true

Read more about Using the .condarc conda configuration file.

Package name changes#

Some packages that are available in the free channel have different names in the main channel.

Package name in free

Package name in main




gcc_linux-64 and similar




now installable via notebook, a metapackage could be created


now installable via qtconsole, a metapackage could be created






You may encounter some errors, such as UnsatisfiableError or a PackagesNotFoundError.

An example of this error is:

$ conda create -n test -c file:///Users/jsmith/anaconda/conda-bld bad_pkg
Collecting package metadata: done
Solving environment: failed

UnsatisfiableError: The following specifications were found to be in conflict:
  - cryptography=2.6.1 -> openssl[version='>=1.1.1b,<1.1.2a']
  - python=3.7.0 -> openssl[version='>=1.0.2o,<1.0.3a']
Use "conda search <package> --info" to see the dependencies for each package.

This can occur if:

  • you’re trying to install a package that is only available in free and not in main.

  • you have older environments in files you want to recreate. If those spec files reference packages that are in free, they will not show up.

  • a package is dependent upon files found only in the free channel. Conda will not let you install the package if it cannot install the dependency, which the package requires to work.

If you encounter these errors, consider using a newer package than the one in free. If you want those older versions, you can add the free channel back into your defaults.