Why I like Ubuntu/Linux software repositories

At home I have Ubuntu 12.04 installed on my Toshiba and I use it most of the time. Rarely I reboot my computer to Windows 7 to play some games. At work I am using a workstation with Windows 7.

Some days ago I wanted to update my software on Windows 7 at work. I use some tools, which are available for free, for instance Freemind, a mind mapping tool. In Ubuntu I would type a proper apt-get command in the terminal, but not Windows. In Windows I have to update it manually. Even when an application does provide an update mechanism, it has to be invoked manually. There is no central place or database where you hi ‘check for update of my installed apps’ and hit accept and then the software gets updated.

Some year ago, when using Linux, yes, it was a pain the ass to use some software. Now, with Ubuntu and apt-get, that problem was solved. If an application is available free it will be probably in the software repository. So, we get another extra feature: search for software. No need to search the internet for download site. When an application isn’t in main repository it can be in another repository, which can be  added to the list of sources, which apt-get searches through.

Some packages can be downloaded via a website (deb packages) and when installed, they add it’s repository information to apt-get’s config files. Next time apt-get packages list is updated, this repository will be checked too. Google Chrome does that for example, once installed apt-get checks for new versions of the web browser along with other software.

Also the problem with dependencies. Yes, some years ago, when one had to install from source, there were mountains of problems. Now, many packages, even when one has to compile and install it from source, provide routines to generate deb or rpm packages. Or the software creator maintains his or hers own repository.

In Windows, there is no central repository, or I am not aware of such mechanism. When it comes to managing software installations, then with the built-in mechanism, Linux distros are way ahead of Windows.


5 thoughts on “Why I like Ubuntu/Linux software repositories

  1. Yes I like being able to go into the terminal or the software center and getting what I want without ever worrying about unwanted cargo (such as viruses or other malware) coming along with it.

  2. The dark side to this is the ‘software store,’ as with iOS devices, or with handheld bookstores like the Kindle. If you want software, you got it all in one place, but cannot (without hacking and potentially violating TOS) get it from anywhere else. The vendor now controls what sorts of things get top search hits, what you can and can’t install, licensing, etc., for better or for worse.

    I don’t really pay attention to Windows 8 news, but I think this is where MS is trying to go with its super cool next gen OS.

    1. Yeah, from a power user POV it’s really annoying that every device nowadays you buy comes with a ‘software shop’ of the vendor and the only apps you can use are those, which were approved. On the other hand for the normal user this is a good thing. Just go to ‘software shop’ buy apps or check for updates. One central place where the list of installed apps is and one place to manage them.

      1. Yeah, I think we’re agreed on both points. I am a total Linux noob, not really willing to get deeper than a few basic console commands.

        I got tired of Win7 cramping up on my netbook and decided to jump headfirst into desktop Linux and damn the torpedoes. I’m happily running Xubuntu on the little device, and though it doesn’t have every title I’m looking for, the basic Ubunbtu software store and the updating software that hooks into it is nearly Steam-like in its thoroughness and simplicity.

        Then we hear of the latest Ubuntu offering little suggestions about what to buy, based on desktop search. Perhaps this form of commerce creep is inevitable, but the advantage of Linux is that there should always be a way to kick cute little features like that to the curb.

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