Many newbie seem confused when they want to install an application in Ubuntu and other similar linux distros (sld) for the first time. In this article we will try to clear up any confusion related to this so that you can easily update your Ubuntu with new programs as well as learn the best ways to remove them.
In the same spirit as Apple App store, Ubuntu also has a default software center from which you can easily install many applications. You will be able to find a software by its name or you can also browse several predefined categories and editor’s picks.
In Ubuntu Unity, just type in ‘Ubuntu Software’. A Red icon pops up as shown below. Simply click on it to open it up.
Another method would be to access the main menu in the desktop and simply click on the same icon as shown below
If you found the application you were looking for, you just need to click on it. This will show the description of the application inside Software Center.
Once you like the application, simply click on the install button in order to proceed to its installation on your system. You will need to have the right credentials in order to carry on with this step.
Many non open-source applications which are proprietary software cannot be found in the Ubuntu software center. In order to access this type of software programs, you will need to enable the Canonical Partner repository. Here is what you need to do :
Open up the unity dash and search for software & update (first icon below) .
Once it pops up, select the ‘the other software’ section or tab and enable “Canonical Partners”. See snapshot below for illustration.
Now you are able to install applications in Ubuntu using software center. But if you are not satisfied with the software and want to get rid of it , you will need to know how to uninstall it. Fortunately removing applications from Ubuntu is very straightforward. You just need to navigate to the Ubuntu Software , click on the Installed section where all the installed software packages are listed along with the removal option. Simply click on remove and you are done.
You may be interested to read: How to keep Ubuntu clean?
There is another alternative to Ubuntu Software Center when it comes to installing applications. It is the terminal based installation. In other words you will need to run some commands in the terminal which will install programs in much the same way as Ubuntu Software Center which is a graphical user interface.
All you need to do is to open up the terminal window in your Ubuntu desktop and type in the command which will install your chosen application:
For example, if you want to install synaptic program, you just need to run the command below :
sudo apt install synaptic
In other words, you just have the type in the name of the package which corresponds to the application at the end of the sudo apt install command.
sudo apt install package_name
You will need to enter your password for confirmation.
You might be prompted at the beginning of the installation process. Just type in Y or y to proceed.
If you are not sure about the package name to install, you might want to consult the corresponding website of the application so that you know what to use as a package name.
Just to let you know that the first word in the command above, i.e. sudo is the instruction which allows you to use ‘admin’ or ‘root’ privileges.
In order to remove an application that you have already installed using the terminal or the Ubuntu Software Center or any other method, you can use the apt command as well.
You just need to issue the command below and remember to replace the package_name with your desired application name you want to delete.
sudo apt-get remove package_name
If this was your first time to use the terminal, then it is a pretty good entry exercise for you in order to get accustomed with the command line.
For more on how to use APT commands, you may want to read our article here.
Using .deb Files
Many software publishers provide offer a .deb file in order to let you install their applications.This is much like an executable file in windows. You just need to download the provided .deb file from the vendor website. See example below for the Synaptic application :
Once you have it locally, double click on. This will take you to the Ubuntu software center where you will see the install button.
You need to be careful when downloading the .deb file. You need to make sure you are downloading the file from the official vendor. You also need to know which .deb file corresponds to your system type (32 bit or 64 bit).
For more about how to install a .deb file, you may want to read our article here.
In order to remove an application that was installed using a .deb file, you just need to refer to the section where you uninstalled software using the Ubuntu Software Center. Just look up the application name and hit Remove.
In case the application is not visible in Ubuntu Software Center, you can, as an alternative, use Synaptic Package Manager which is a powerful and an easy-to-use application that lists all the programs that are available in your system.
In order to install , just visit https://packages.ubuntu.com/xenial/synaptic and download the required deb file. Or simply go to the terminal and issue the command :
sudo apt install synaptic
After the installation , you will be able to install/remove/upgrade any software package in your system.
PPA or Personal Package Archives allows developers to make their applications available as an apt repository by uploading their source packages to Launchpad. Ubuntu users will then be able to download these packages very easily as if they were dealing with the official Ubuntu packages. This comes in handy since only stable and trustworthy applications make it to the official Ubuntu repository.
Here is an example of how to install Krita application :
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kritalime/ppa
sudo apt update
sudo apt install krita
As you can see above, we added a PPA provided Krita repository and then after updating the package list, we installed the krita package from the corresponding repository.
A GUI PPA application is available to use. You will be able to search for your desired PPA, add and uninstall packages. Make sure though to add PPA only from a trusted source.
Here is quickly what you can do : you can simply issue the following two commands.
sudo apt-get remove krita
sudo add-apt-repository –remove ppa:kritalim/ppa
The first one will remove the application that was installed via the PPA while the second removes the PPA from sources.list.
Using the source code to install software applications is recommended for experienced users only since it is a rather tedious task which require patience and advanced know-how . Some users like this method however, but to be honest it takes more time and effort than the previous ones. Here are some summarized steps that will help you install applications using the source code.
- Go to the official vendor website and download the appropriate source code file.
- Once you have locally, do extract it.
- In the folder where you extracted the files, look up for a README or INSTALL file. This will guide you through the installation process.
- Next issue the commands below in the Terminal one at a time in order to install the software:
sudo make install
Note that you won’t receive updates for software that was installed this way unlike applications that were installed from Ubuntu’s repository or via PPAs or via .deb .
If you believe that installing applications using the source code was difficult, then you might want to think twice before removing them.
Before starting the removal procedure, make sure to check if the vendor had provided a removal script. It is highly recommended not to delete the source code of the application you want to remove. Finally, you can uninstall the software by first changing to the directory where you extracted the files and in the terminal, you would need to issue the command below :
sudo make uninstall
This however might leave your computer in an inconsistent state since the source code might have created other binary files that cannot be removed using this method. This is why this method is highly risky and it is not recommended.
Much like apt, dpkg is a package manager for Ubuntu and Debian-based systems. It enables you to install, uninstall and build packages. It lacks however some features like for instance automatic download and package installation ( or their dependencies ). You will learn in this section how to use dpkg to locally manage installed packages. This is for intermediate-level users since it is not as complex as the previous one.
In order to install your desired deb file, open up the terminal and issue the following command:
sudo dpkg -i file_name.deb
Where file_name should be replaced by the one you wish to install. Here is an example command:
sudo dpkg -i google-chrome-stable_current_i386.deb
If you obtain some dependency errors, run the command below :
sudo apt-get install -f
In order to uninstall a software using dpkg, issue the command below :
dpkg -r packagename.deb
Where packagename.deb should be replaced by your own file. If you want to Repair/Reconfigure the deb installation, simply run the command :
sudo dpkg-reconfigure packagename
Synaptic Package Manager is yet another good alternative to Ubuntu software center with which you will be able to install various applications in your Ubuntu and similar distros. It combines both the simplicity of the graphical user interface with the versatility and power of the apt package management command. Installing Synaptic Package Manager can be done from the Ubuntu software center or by using the terminal. Issue the command below to install it:
sudo apt install synaptic
Make sure to click Y or y when prompted.
Once your Synaptic Package Manager has been installed, open it up and do the following steps :
Search for the software or package and then check the box “Mark for Installation” and finally
Snap was created by Canonical in order to provide a cross-platform solution which is used to install applications on any Linux distribution enabling therefore secure distribution of the most recent utilities and apps for cloud, desktops, servers and the internet of things. Much like apt, it is a self-contained universal package management tool which comes with all the dependencies and libraries that software is required to run on any Linux system.
In order to install Snap package management environment in case you do not have it already, run the following command :
sudo apt install snapd
Once this is done, you should be able to install the application that you wish using the Snap command as follows :
sudo snap install <package_name>
Flatpak is one of very few universal package management utilities for Linux which was created by Alexander Larsson from Red Hat. Flatpak provides a cross-platform framework which means that a single application is built for all Linux distros. Flatpak is currently available in Debian, Arch Linux, Fedora, Solus, Mageia and Ubuntu.It is focused however on desktops only .
There is an official PPA for Ubuntu (versions older than 16.04, 17.10) which allows you to install Flatpak. Issue the commands below in order to get Flatpak :
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:alexlarsson/flatpak
sudo apt update
sudo apt install flatpak
For the latest Ubuntu version, run the below command only:
sudo apt install flatpak
To use the Flatpak software you can either access the Ubuntu software center or via the command line interface. The Command line can be a bit difficult for newbies, but you can enable Flatpak support for Gnome software center so that it gets much easier. Issue the following command in order to install the Gnome software plugin:
sudo apt install gnome-software-plugin-flatpak
Finally you will be able to download .flatpakref file utility from the software vendor website or you can visit FlatHub – Flatpak app store.
Using the Gnome software plugin, you will be able to open a .flatpakref format file in Ubuntu software center upon which you can install or launch the application.
For more on Flatpak, visit : https://flatpak.org/setup/Ubuntu/
You have seen several methods that will help you install and remove applications in Ubuntu and similar distros.
You should now be able to install programs using for instance the terminal, the PPA and the Ubuntu Software. If however the application cannot be found in Ubuntu software center, you can use a .deb package. If you are an experienced user, you can use the more complicated way which is via the source code.
There are few others though that were not mentioned in this article, like :
- Pip to install Python based programs
For more on the differences between the 3 big universal package management tools, visit: https://github.com/AppImage/AppImageKit/wiki/Similar-projects#comparison