Is Ubuntu Software Management User Friendly? Page 2: Page 2

The Ubuntu Software Center offers some benefits for newbies, but it's missing some key functionality.
Posted December 4, 2012

Matt Hartley

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Ubuntu Software Center Alternatives

For those of you not bothered by bloat who wish to take what Ubuntu is offering to the next level, allow me to introduce you to the most fully functional Software Center-like application I've ever used – Deepin Software Center. This software manager was originally designed for the Linux distribution Linux Deepin. Yet as I discovered recently, you can actually install this utility onto your Ubuntu desktop reasonably easily.

To point out that Deepin has a better, cleaner and more logical environment seems painfully obvious to me. It has the same benefits of the Debian software system we've all come to know and love, but with a real twist of actually being user friendly. Deepin Software Center provides super-simple tabs at the top of the application for Repository, Upgrades, Uninstall and Download.

The first tab we'll look at is called Repository. This isn't a place to tweak your repository settings; rather, this is where you can experience software recommendations or browse software based on category.

Next up, we have Upgrades. The Upgrades section is great in that you are presented with a clear view of each upgrade component and then asked if you'd like to go ahead with the upgrade or not. I love the fact that Deepin Software Center also provides you with an ignore button. This is something you'd normally need to do from Synaptic as the Ubuntu Software Center lacks this ignore functionality. Besides, how slick is it to be able to manage your upgrades with a single button push?

The last tab that's worth mentioning in the Deepin Software Center is the Uninstall tab. Without a doubt, this is the crowning jewel missing from the Ubuntu Software Center. Laid out in clear view are all of the software titles you've installed yourself. The Ubuntu Software Center's history tab comes close in keeping track of what has been done to your system, but compared to Deepin's efforts, there is simply no contest in ease of use and functionality.

Despite all of the benefits of the Deepin Software Center, it too, is lacking a key feature for those of you who run a lot of software titles: PPA repository management.

Y PPA Manager

One of the things that bring folks to Ubuntu from other distros is that the PPA repositories contain newer versions of their favorite software. Sure, folks running Arch and other more advanced distributions might scoff at the PPAs having any benefit to the end user. But one must remember that Arch isn't appealing to Windows converts or those who don't require a highly customized installation. Folks such as myself value being able to get a hold of bleeding-edge software titles without spending a whole weekend customizing their Linux install. With this in mind, Ubuntu PPAs can be the perfect cutting-edge software solution.

The problem, however, is that adding PPAs is easier than managing them in the long term. For example, countless times I've found that I just added a PPA repository that had previously been added. Usually, this happens because I uninstalled the software from the repository, only forgetting to re-add it again later on. This is where Y PPA Manager comes into play. Using Y PPA Manager, I can edit, remove or add new PPAs as I see fit with minimum hassle.

Final thoughts

Ubuntu software management is pretty sweet. And as I stated previously, Ubuntu can thank Debian for making this happen.

But despite all of the success Ubuntu has had with its software management, there is still room for improvement. The software center for example, is in dire need of a design refresh. Compared to alternatives like Deepin's Software Center, Ubuntu's option leaves a lot to be desired. Another thing I'd love to see integrated is better support for PPA handling.

As things stand now, one must run Y PPA Manager to truly have an intuitive method for working with PPAs as Ubuntu's current setup,only allows us to add or remove them. Having Y PPA Manager functionality would allow me to search out which software is PPA dependent and which isn't, plus it would allow me to list the related packages as they correspond to each PPA. Options like that would go a long way towards making Ubuntu software management even better.

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Tags: open source, Linux, Ubuntu, Debian, software management, package management

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