With six days to go until Drupal 8's end of life (on November 2, 2021), now is a good time to take stock of your Drupal 8 sites' modules. Use Upgrade Status to check for environment and module compatibility with Drupal 9.
While a lot of Drupal extensions are now compatible with Drupal 9, it can happen that you encounter an incompatible extension. In case adopting the extension fits into your plans, that is the best way forward. However, there may be some delay until you can adopt the project and it may not fit into your plans to adopt in the first place. There are a few solutions to use drupal.org projects that are distributed as incompatible on your Drupal 9 sites.
Obtaining the extension
I do not advise to download the extension as a zip or tar.gz file and add it to your project. As I posted yesterday, it is best to use Composer to ensure all Drupal-specific and third party dependencies are resolved. Manually downloading does not ensure this. But composer will not let you download incompatible extensions!
This is where drupal.org's recently added lenient Composer endpoint comes in. Essentially this is a package repository that advertises only incompatible projects, but it exposes them as compatible instead. Using Composer 2, you can add this additional repository on top of the existing drupal.org endpoint with a higher priority. This way you can transparently add packages that are yet incompatible to your projects. As projects get compatible with Drupal 9, they will disappear from the lenient endpoint and their entry on the standard drupal.org endpoint will transparently take over on your setup.
Making code compatible
Now that you have the codebase on your site, you will still be unable to use the project, as it is indeed still incompatible. If the only patch the extension needs is to its info.yml file where it declares compatibility with Drupal 9, the simplest solution may be to install the Backward Compatibility module. If additional patching is required, or you prefer not to use the Backward Compatibility module, you can install and use the cweagans/composer-patches package for Composer and use it to apply the compatibility fix.
The above method is not the only solution to use incompatible projects. Prior to the availabilty of the lenient Composer endpoint, Benji Fisher wrote a blog post about using the git repository of merge requests to add to your site. Even before that James Williams wrote about using the base git repository of projects and applying fixes with composer-patches. Both of these methods require a lot more special case entries in your composer file and would require you to manually track if the project became compatible.
The benefit of the lenient Composer endpoint is that it provides one unified source of projects. For projects you use with Backwards Compatibility, they will seamlessly convert to compatible projects on your site as their drupal.org releases become compatible. For projects you use with composer-patches, Composer will report the inability to apply patches when updates become available, where you have an explicit notification that either the project became compatible or conflicting changes were added.