Automatix2 Review

very good
key review info
application features
  • AX2 is written in pygtk and works on a bash backend.
  • (5 more, see all...)

One of the things I used to consider a bit difficult when I had to face a Linux operating system for the first time was the entire "ritual" I had to process in order to have some applications installed and working on my computer. I might be overreacting a bit on this one, but after I have seen a much easier alternative, believe me, I am not.

Some of you might have already understood what I am talking about here; for all the others, I have only one word to say: Automatix2. Automatix2 is a graphical interface you can use for the automatic installation of the most popular applications for the Debian based distros. Thus, it works with most of the Debian based Linux distributions, from the wide-spread Ubuntu versions such as Dapper, Edgy or Feisty to Debian 4.0 (Etch) and Mepis 6.0, 6.5. To give you a brief idea on what Automatix2 is capable of, I will tell you that I have installed the Opera browser on my computer through only 2 clicks: one to select it and one to press the Start button! Actually, this would be the entire "philosophy"of how to use Automatix2: 1. select item(s) you want installed on your PC from a list, which is pretty generous I could say; 2. press "Start". I do not even imagine how you could possibly do it easier than that.

Installing Automatix2 on your machine will be done through the classical method, though. You will first have to add the source ("deb feisty main"), then get the security key, import the key and then run the sudo apt- get update and install commands, an entire ritual as I've said before. But you can say Good-bye! to this ritual once you have successfully installed Automatix2. Ah, I have just remembered one little detail I must mention; while it is running it's not recommended - actually, it is not possible at all for you - to run synaptic, apt-get or any other software installation alongside Automatix2. The only result you'd get is an error message and an exit from Automatix2.

From what I have heard so far, Automatix2 enjoys full support from the team that created and developed it, which means that we should expect new features, bug-fixes and updates to it, and perhaps this behavior when running other installations might not trouble you in the future. In spite of its quite simplistic looks, as it is not "garnished"with too many buttons, AX2 is just fit for accomplishing its purpose. So, besides the famous "Start" button there will be only two more, one for hiding/showing the gnome applications and another one, "Show", for viewing different information such as the source lists, the activity and change log and some possible errors along with detailed information about them. The list with available applications is divided into categories, which follow in an alphabetical order and cover a wide area of usability, from chat and email clients to virtualization and programming tools.

The menu bar follows the same template: 3 places, File of course, View and the omnipresent Help. Here I would object to the View place, which accesses the exact same options menu as the Show button. I think that Preferences would have substituted that View better, where I would have liked to meet a panel for configuring AX2 to work behind a proxy too. For now, if you are behind a proxy it's highly probable that you will experience some nasty errors or not even get AX2 to work at all. I found the current proxy configuration, which is made "manually" through a number of steps from a terminal; kind of difficult and even confusing for a newbie in the Linux area who would have the misfortune to be behind a proxy. I hope that future releases of AX would show some improvements in this matter. Another aspect I would like to mention is that Automatix2 install list contains suggestions coming from the Ubuntu repos, and thus I don't think the eventuality of AX2 breaking the Ubutnu upgrades is worth being discussed, as it is very low.

The Good

At the moment, this is the only tool of its kind of which existence I am aware of , thus I can say it is also the best. Leaving the joke aside, I really consider AX2 a very helpful innovation and I was really pleased with the simplistic way it handled my installation requests.

The Bad

Even though such an app proves to be very helpful and safe, there are rumors claiming that the Ubuntu development team has criticized its content and they even claim that AX1 breaks the updates from Dapper to Edgy.

The Truth

Automatix2 is a Debian Linux tool used for - as the name itself states - automatic installations of commonly used applications, codecs, fonts and libraries. For a complete list of what AX2 can install, you can check this link here.

Please enjoy some screenshots of Automatix2:

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user interface 4
features 4
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5

final rating 4
Editor's review
very good