The new Ubuntu Software Center
You may remember my mention of the Ubuntu Software Center in my article "Ubuntu Karmic Koala preview". Well, Karmic Koala is now officially Ubuntu 9.10 and is on the streets. I have installed the release and am as pleased as I expected I would be. One aspect of 9.10 that I was most interested in was the new Ubuntu Software Center.
I have always been a big fan of apt-get and Synaptic, so I was curious as to how Ubuntu could possibly improve on either of these tools. I have used the Software Center a few times already and I can see why Ubuntu migrated to this new system: It's very user friendly (more so than the original Add/Remove Software tool), it's reliable, it's easier to add new repositories, and it has a much cleaner interface.
But can this tool take the place of the original tools? Can the Ubuntu Software Center usurp both Add/Remove Software and Synaptic? Let's examine the tool and draw our conclusions.
The ultimate goal for the Ubuntu Software Center is to become a single point of focus for software management in Ubuntu. Effectively, the Software Center is going to become the Ubuntu version of the iPhone App Store. Here are the current and planned features:
- Install open source/free software (Version 1).
- Install commercial/non-free software (Version 3).
- Rate and review software (Version 2).
- Replace Synaptic and Gdebi (Version 2).
So by Version 3 the Ubuntu Software Center will be a total one-stop shop for Linux software installation in Ubuntu. Exciting times indeed. But right now we're at Version 1 and the big question is, does it stand up to previous tools. Let's take a look.
When you fire up the Ubuntu Software Center (done by clicking on the entry in the Applications menu) the main window is laid out very clearly (see Figure 1) will be the Banshee (since it has been referenced a number of times on Ghacks.)
To locate Banshee either click on the Sound & Video category (from the main page) or enter "banshee" (no quotes) in the search field and hit Enter.
When the listing appears, select the entry, and click on the right-pointing arrow that appears (see Figure 2). When you click that arrow you will be presented with an information window that allows you to either install the software or visit the software's web page.
In order to install the selected software, click on the Install button (see Figure 3) which will require you to enter your sudo password. Upon entering your password a new pane will open up showing the progress of the installation. Depending upon the size of the application, this progress could take a while. The speed of the download will also be directly effected by the newness of the 9.10 release and how busy the repositories are.
Once the software is installed you will be returned to the information window that will look a bit different. Where the "Install" button was is now a "Remove" button and, if available, a screenshot will appear.
Where adding new software sources in Synaptic could be somewhat confusing to new users, adding these same sources in the Software Center has become incredibly easy. All you have to do is follow these steps:
- Click on the Edit menu.
- Click the Software Sources entry.
- Enter your password if you haven't already authenticated.
- Click on the Other Software tab in the Sources window.
- Click the Add button.
- Enter the entire line (the same line you would add to the /etc/apt/sources.list file in the text area).
- Click the Add Source button.
You're done. You no longer have to enter multiple pieces of information for a repository to be added.
At first I was skeptical about the new Software Center. But after using the tool, and seeing where the tool is heading, I like what I am seeing (and using). I think Ubuntu is going to have a major hit on their hands with the Software Center.Advertisement