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I'm not sure I understand what this means. How can Ubuntu recommend something that isn't in the repository? Am I supposed to fetch the source code and install myself? Why isn't there a biber package?

To be clear, I can use biblatex without biber, but it preferable to use them together.

Update: OK, I guess I'll download the biber source. I'd rather not install the whole texlive, because it's cumbersome to say the least.

By the way, biber is a terrible package name - when searching for it on Google I keep getting it corrected to Bieber, argh.

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It is clearly a bug, that you should signal. –  enzotib Mar 7 '12 at 18:28
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

How can Ubuntu recommend something that isn't in the repository?

I would agree, if it would be a dependency. But a recommendation is not that strong that it breaks something.

Biber is not included, because it is not stable and still experimental.

Here are some links, how to install vanilla TeXLive (incl. biber)

Installing “vanilla” TeXLive
TeXLive on Debian/Ubuntu
Installing TeXLive

Ubuntu 12.04 uses biblatex version 1.7-1; you can verify this by running:

apt-cache show biblatex

According to the biber documentation, the last biber release to support biblatex 1.7 is biber 0.9.9.

You can download the appropriate version of biber 0.9.9—32bit or 64bit—here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/biblatex-biber/files/biblatex-biber/0.9.9/binaries/Linux/

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