Ubuntu Software Center 5.4.1.2 Review

good
key review info
application features
  • Easily access Ubuntu repositories
  • (3 more, see all...)

Ubuntu Software Center is one of the most disputed applications in the Ubuntu operating system, but the developers have stuck with it and it has proved to be a very good decision.

Canonical doesn’t have the best track record when introducing new applications, especially when they are the developers of it.

Usually, the people who put together Linux distributions don’t have the time or the resources to implement their own software, so they rely on applications from other developers.

This method of combining applications from hundreds of third parties has proven to be quite a challenge as the apps and frameworks don’t always work well together.

Canonical is not your usual developer. They do have the means and the capability to make their own applications, if they feel that the software they’ve been using is not complete or it’s too buggy.

Ubuntu Software Center and the Unity desktop environment are just two examples of Canonical determination of doing things their way.

Ubuntu Software Center was initially called AppCenter and it’s not actually an original application. It’s based on gnome-app-install, which in turn is based on a Debian tool. It’s not uncommon for this kind of applications to get branched and this is just the case here.

Canonical has fiddled with the idea of their own app center for quite some time and there are rumors (more like certainties, if you check the similarities between the two products) that Apple took some inspiration for their Mac App Store from Ubuntu Software Center.

Installation

If you are running an Ubuntu operating system from 9.04 (Karmic Koala) upwards, you already have Ubuntu Software Center installed.

In any case, Canonical provides a source code, through Launchpad, so anyone can download it and insert it in their distribution.

Moreover, the developers also provide a PPA for the development version of Ubuntu Software Center. Keep in mind that this is a daily build, which means that features, changes, and updates are implemented and removed on a daily basis. In any case, this is how you install it. Open a terminal and enter the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:software-store-developers/daily-build
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Perform this installation only if you are absolutely sure about what you are doing. Making a downgrade for Ubuntu Software Center would be quite difficult.

Usage

Before the full implementation of Ubuntu Software Center in Canonical’s distributions, users got around with other applications, such as Synaptic.

The problem with these programs is that they don’t have functions for shareware, meaning users can’t buy something. This had to be remedied, especially because Canonical also wanted a digital distribution platform for various products, in the same manner Valve is doing with Steam.

After getting the software in place, Canonical started working on making it user friendly, in the accordance with the rest of the operating system.

The company is trying really hard to make Ubuntu an easy-to-use operating system that anyone can pick up, not just Linux fans. For the most part they are successful and Ubuntu Software Center is one of the best examples of their perseverance.

The first time you open the software, you are welcomed with a clear interface that leaves no doubt on what can be done with it. It’s composed of three major panes.

On the top there's a pane featuring four promoted items that are circulated like a slideshow, while on the left there's a second pane encompassing all the categories, and the third one pane rests at the bottom, with the latest entries.

Ubuntu Software Center doesn’t require an account to install free software, but if you want to buy stuff, then you will need to take some additional steps.

Besides installing applications from the official repositories, it also provides quick access to Software Sources, an important part of Ubuntu.

From Software Sources, users can choose what repositories Ubuntu has to use, can managed PPAs, choose the priority and sources of the updates, check authentication keys, and see if there are any proprietary drivers available in the repositories.

The last and probably one of the most important features of Ubuntu Software Center is its capability to install .deb files. Sure enough, they can still be installed from the terminal, but if you are novice with Ubuntu, you might now want to get all that involved.

Just double click a .deb file and Ubuntu Software Center will gather the necessary dependencies files from the repositories and install the application.

The Bad

Canonical claims that their application is almost a complete solution, but they are actually far from it. From a beginner's point of view, Ubuntu Software Center might seem complete, but it lacks a lot of features, not to mention transparency.

For example, when installing a .deb file it doesn’t show you what the other dependencies also installed are. Maybe you just picked up a library you didn’t want, but you can’t see what is happening during the installation, like in the case of Synaptic.

The categories are not complete and their functionality is truncated. For example, after you enter the Games category, the filters don’t work properly, a lot of entries don’t have screenshots, and the size of the packages isn’t shown.

These are just a small part of the problems, but you get the idea. The application is far from complete.

The Good

A lot of people were unhappy when Synaptic was removed from the distribution (not from the repositories though) and Ubuntu Software Center was left to fend for itself.

Nonetheless, it’s a great tool for new users and probably one of the most useful integrated into Ubuntu. It provides easy access to a few important features we mentioned above and it’s a very good package manager, at least when it comes to uninstalling applications.

Conclusion

Ubuntu Software Center is without a doubt a very useful software, especially for new users, but it still fails to provide the necessary features the more advanced user needs.

We certainly hope that Canonical will continue to develop the software until it reaches the level of quality we expect from them.


user interface 4
features 3
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5


final rating 3
Editor's review
good
 
NEXT REVIEW: Rhythmbox

Photo Gallery (9 Images)

Gallery Image
01
Gallery Image
02
Gallery Image
03
Gallery Image
04
Gallery Image
05
Gallery Image
06
Gallery Image
07
Gallery Image
08
Gallery Image
09

2 Comments