The Complete Guide To The Ubuntu Software Centre

Ubuntu Software Centre
Ubuntu Software Centre.

Introduction

The Ubuntu Software Centre is a graphical tool which makes it possible for you to install software on a computer running the Ubuntu operating system.

In order to get the most out of the Software Centre you should read this guide which shows how to add extra repositories within Ubuntu.

This guide highlights the features of the Software Centre as well as some of the pitfalls.

Starting The Software Centre

To start the Ubuntu Software Centre either click on the suitcase icon on the Ubuntu Launcher or press the super key (Windows key) on your keyboard and search for Software Centre in the Ubuntu Dash. When the icon appears click on it.

The Main Interface

The image above shows the main interface for the Software Centre.

There is a menu at the very top which appears by hovering over the words "Ubuntu Software Centre". 

Underneath the menu is a toolbar with options for All Software, Installed and History. On the right is a search bar.

In the main interface there is a list of categories on the left side, a panel of new applications to the right with a "recommendations for you" section underneath.

The bottom pane shows the top rated applications.

Searching For Applications

The easiest way to find applications is to search by either the application's name or by keywords. Simply enter the words in the search box and press return.

 

A list of potential applications will appear. 

Browsing The Categories

If you just want to see what is available in the repositories, click on the categories in the left pane. 

Clicking on a category brings up a list of applications in the same way searching for applications does.

Some categories contain sub-categories and therefore you might see a list of sub-categories as well as the top picks within that category.

For example the Games category has sub-categories for arcade, board games, card games, puzzles, role playing, simulation and sports. The top picks include Pingus, Hedgewars and Supertux 2.

Recommendations

On the main front screen you will see a button with the words "Turn on recommendations". If you click the button you will be offered the chance to sign up to Ubuntu One. This will send details of your current installations to Canonical so that you will receive targeted results with further suggested applications.

If you are worried about big brother watching you then you might not want to do this.

Browsing And Searching By Repository

By default the Software Centre searches using all the repositories available.

To search or browse by a specific repository click on the little arrow next to the words "All Software". A list of repositories will appear and you can select one by clicking with the left mouse button.

This brings up a list of applications in the same way that searching and browsing categories does.

Showing A List Of Installed Applications Using The Ubuntu Software Centre

To see what is installed on your system you could use the Ubuntu Dash and filter using the Applications lens or you can use the Ubuntu Software Centre.

In the Software Centre click "Installed".

A list of categories will appear as follows:

  • Accessories
  • Developer Tools
  • Games
  • Graphics
  • Internet
  • Office
  • Sound & Video
  • Themes & Tweaks
  • Universal Access
  • Uncategoried

Click on a category to reveal a list of applications that are installed on your system. 

You can see which categories are installed by repository as well by clicking on the down arrow next to "Installed" on the toolbar.

A list of repositories will appear. Clicking on a repository shows the applications that are installed from that repository.

Viewing Installation History

The history button on the toolbar brings up a list showing when applications were installed.

There are four tabs:

  • All changes
  • Installations
  • Updates
  • Removals

The "All Changes" tab shows a list of every installation, update and removal by date. Clicking on a date brings up a list of changes that happened on that day.

The "installations" tab only shows new installations, "Updates" only shows updates and "Removals" only shows when applications were removed.

Applications Lists

When you search for an application or browse the categories a list of applications will be revealed.

The list of applications shows the application's name, a brief description, a rating and in brackets the number of people who have left a rating. 

In the top right corner of the screen there is a drop down showing how the list is sorted. The options are as follows:

  • Top Rated
  • Name
  • Newest First

Finding Out More About An Application

To get more information about an application click on it's link within the application list.

Two buttons will appear:

  • More Info
  • Install

If you know you want the software then simply click the "Install" button.

To find out more about the software before installing it click the "More Info" button.

A new window will appear with the following information:

  • The application's name
  • The price (i.e. free)
  • A description
  • A link to the developer's site
  • Screenshots
  • Version
  • Total Size
  • License
  • Updates
  • A list of applications other people also installed
  • A list of reviews

​You can filter the reviews by language and you can sort by most helpful or newest first.

To install the software click the "Install" button

Reinstall Previous Purchases

If you have already bought some software and you need to re-install it you can do so by clicking the File menu (hover over the words Ubuntu Software Centre in the top left corner) and choose "Reinstall Previous Purchases".

A list of applications will appear.

Pitfalls

The Software Centre is less than perfect. 

As an example search for Steam using the search bar. An option for Steam will appear in the list. Clicking on the link brings up a "More Info" button but there is no "Install" button.

When you click the "More Info" button the words "Not Found" appears.

A bigger problem is that the Software Centre doesn't appear to return all the results available within the repositories.

I actually recommend installing Synaptic or learning to use apt-get.

The Future Of The Software Centre

This guide will remain useful to users of Ubuntu 14.04 however as the Software Centre will be available until 2019 on that version.

Finally

This guide is item 6 on the list of 33 things to do after installing Ubuntu.