Software Sources / Repositories

Ubuntu software is stored in a series of repositories:

1) Canonical-supported (main)

2) Community-maintained open source (universe)

3) Proprietary (restricted) and

4) Software restricted by copyright or legal issues (multiverse).

These categories are set out in System>Administration>Software Sources, under the first tab (Ubuntu Software). (There is also a category for source code.) When you first install Ubuntu, all of these categories are checked ready for download. I generally disable the download of source code by unchecking that box, to speed up the refreshing of sources. I recommend that the other fields remain checked, unless you have concerns about using non-open-source software. My own computer requires proprietary drivers to work.

Besides the official repositories on the first tab. there is a second tab which lists third-party software sources. If you click on the Edit button, you will find that each of these is in the form deb version main (or free non-free, etc.). On my computer, the version is intrepid on the active links.

You may have read a great deal about repositories, pro and con, by now. One thing to be careful about is, does the repository change your main library files that other software that you regularly use depends on? This can cause a failure in software that you have been using without trouble for months.

Now that I have mentioned one caution, let me point out the repositories that I use, also giving the line you will need once you click on Add:

1) Ubuntu Tweak. The line to add its repository is:

deb intrepid main

2) Medibuntu. The line to add it is:

deb free non-free

When you add the Medibuntu repository, you will need to either search for medibuntu-keyring in the Synaptic Package Manager search field so you can add it, or run the command sudo apt-get install medibuntu-keyring. Either will tell apt that the keys it needs to verify the repository are now available.

Ubuntu Tweak, once installed (sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak) contains a list of further repositories which you can enable. I recommend at the least enabling the Google repository, if you want to try Google Desktop or Picasa.

I myself do not recommend including a cutting edge Firefox repository simply because the RSS feed readers I use depend on a stable version of certain files that are in the Ubuntu repository but not the test repositories. It took me a while to find out why my beloved Liferea wouldn’t work one time. I have not messed with unofficial Firefox repositories since.

I apologize – since I am such an avid Firefox user, I forgot to mention Opera. This is in the partner repository. The partner repository, which is already present but will need to be checked if you use it, also contains other useful third party software like the updated Adobe flash plugin, so I recommend checking it.

The third tab under Software Sources lists which updates you wish to be informed about and use. I recommend selecting all of them, but if you are more cautious you may not wish to select the pre-released updates. Whether you consider intrepid-proposed (for instance) depends on what level of bugs you wish to tolerate. If the level is fairly close to 0, you may want to select only the other 3 categories (security, recommended and backports).

If you are still using Hardy you may want to consider permitting normal release upgrades so that you can get to Intrepid. This comes under the section Release upgrade.

Hope this helps!


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