My question is very simple: how to get rid of proprietary software from the Ubuntu Software Center (USC)?

It doesn’t work to enable or disable repositories. Even with just the “universe” and “main” repositories active you can still see plenty of proprietary software. Examples include Skype, Slack, Spotiffy.

Tested: Ubuntu 18.04 and Ubuntu 16.04.

Edited: I had to edit this question down to exclude another bug that I previously reported here about how many open source apps in the USC are mislabeled as proprietary. Added that here https://askubuntu.com/questions/1052688/open-source-software-mislabeled-in-ubuntu-software-center-usc-as-proprietary

UPDATE: This question remains unanswered and I believe it is a very important topic so it needs more attention. If Ubuntu claims to be Free and Open Source then give me the freedom to remove the proprietary software from your official Software Center please. Newcomers to Ubuntu Operating System will not know how to avoid the proprietary apps from the Software Center, especially since when they (I, and all of us) install Ubuntu we may choose only the Open Source repositories, yet the Software Center is full of proprietary apps.

UPDATE 2: 33% of the software is proprietary when you visit the USC home. Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIVHQj7pfXQ&feature=youtu.be Also Krita appears as proprietary and I reported here Krita labeled as proprietary in Ubuntu Software Center

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Thomas Ward
    Jun 26, 2018 at 14:39
  • 2
    I'm voting to reopen to then close as OT/bug-report since this is clearly a bug report or change request that should be discussed on the bug tracker. Jul 4, 2018 at 10:50
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    This site is not a place for discussion, nor is it a place for reporting bugs or requesting fixes to software in Ubuntu. You can report bugs or request fixes on Launchpad.
    – muru
    Jul 30, 2018 at 23:20
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    These are quite literally your own words. "Please open the discussion."<-- discussion "Please fix."<- bug report requesting fix.
    – muru
    Jul 30, 2018 at 23:36
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    Your update reads as a request to developers. This is not the place for such requests - as muru said, a request to developers counts as a bug report and should be made on Launchpad. We are just volunteers creating and maintaining a library of answers about Ubuntu - we don't make Ubuntu. Apparently the answer to your question in bold is that you can't. That's not a very interesting answer. Maybe you are looking for some clues on recompiling the Software Center to do what you want, but I would suggest you need to clarify the question if it's really not intended as a request to devs.
    – Zanna
    Jul 31, 2018 at 16:46

5 Answers 5


However the Software Center is full of proprietary software. How come? I thought Ubuntu is all about Open Source

Definition of "universe":

  • Universe – Community-Maintained, Open-Source Software The vast majority of the software in the Ubuntu Software Center comes from the Universe repository. These packages are either automatically imported from the latest version of Debian or uploaded and maintained by the Ubuntu community.

    Canonical does not provide official support or updates for these packages.

  • I would consider the tag "proprietary" a bug for chromium. It is FLOSS so should be tagged as such.

How to filter those out?

  • I consider it a bug. If you do not want proprietary software do not include "restricted" (= proprietary drivers), or "multiverse" (= proprietary software).
  • Do you have more examples of the tag proprietary in universe? Since I would believe it should not be in there.

  • On how to filter out what is currently installed and is proprietary you can use:

    sudo apt install vrms

and you get a list of what is installed in your system

$ vrms
            Non-free packages installed on schijfwereld

amd64-microcode                     Processor microcode firmware for AMD CPUs
fonts-ubuntu                        sans-serif font set from Ubuntu
i965-va-driver                      VAAPI driver for Intel G45 & HD Graphics family
intel-microcode                     Processor microcode firmware for Intel CPUs

            Contrib packages installed on schijfwereld

iucode-tool                         Intel processor microcode tool

  4 non-free packages, 0.2% of 1852 installed packages.
  1 contrib packages, 0.1% of 1852 installed packages.
$ which chromium
  • Except for a font the others are microcode/hardware related so I good with that myself ;)
  • I have chromium installed and it is not listed. Another bit of proof to believe is its a bug.

Bug report on debian (from June 2nd) that might be related: third_party/swiftshader/third_party/llvm-subzero/lib/Support/ConvertUTF.cpp in chromium seems to be proprietary. In the link there is mentioning of a fix.

There is a command called lintian to check DEB packages. It does not complain when I scan chromium 37.

  • I thought "restricted" only applies to drivers and not to apps. So having that enabled I should not see proprietary apps in the software center, right?
    – Tio TROM
    Jun 23, 2018 at 14:26
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    Though 1 thing: they are in the correct repo. all are open source, and not maintained by canonical. If there was a license issue it would be in multiverse.
    – Rinzwind
    Jun 23, 2018 at 20:33
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    I believe vrms only considers packages installed from repositories, not snaps.
    – fkraiem
    Jun 25, 2018 at 6:36
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    @StephenG GNU documentation is released under the GFDL with non-modifiable parts, hence it in non-free under the DFSG.
    – fkraiem
    Jun 25, 2018 at 6:38
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    @StephenG By the way, Ubuntu does consider glibc-doc-reference as free since it is in Main, but because it is imported from Debian unmodified, it still has Section: non-free in debian/control, so vrms still picks it up as non-free.
    – fkraiem
    Jun 25, 2018 at 7:09

The premise that Ubuntu is "all about open source" is not strictly correct.

The core of the OS uses primarily open source components, and Ubuntu developers support and contribute to a wide variety of open source projects.

However, Ubuntu has never required that all software in the Ubuntu repositories (deb) or Snap Store (snap) must be open source.

  • 1
    I understand, but when I only select the repos main, universe, and restricted (for drivers only), then I expect Ubuntu to respect my choices and remove anything that's not in those repos from the Software Center.
    – Tio TROM
    Jun 23, 2018 at 23:03
  • Can you provide a specific example of Software Center presenting disabled-source debs after you have 1) disabled the source and 2) refreshed the apt database with the changed sources using sudo apt update? That apt behavior, if reproducible, would seem to be a bug. Snaps are different, of course, and don't use apt.
    – user535733
    Jun 24, 2018 at 1:04
  • If I understand this correctly: I install an app that's not in the software center via a ppa. then remove the ppa but not the app. now, is that app still appearing in the software center? the answer is yes.
    – Tio TROM
    Jun 24, 2018 at 1:39
  • i added this ppa apt-add-repository ppa:yktooo/ppa and installed sound switcher indicator github.com/yktoo/indicator-sound-switcher/blob/master/INSTALL . then i removed that ppa from "other software" but i still can see the sound switcher indicator in the software center imgur.com/VSNh0SP and it is labeled wrongly as "proprietary". when i update that yktoo ppa is not on the list as i will paste in the next comment.
    – Tio TROM
    Jun 24, 2018 at 1:39
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    So your issue seems to be that installed software continues to show up in Software Center, even after the original source was disabled. That's expected behavior. Developers worked long and hard and hard to add that feature. Without it, some users would find it difficult to uninstall the software using the same tool they used to install it. This doesn't seem related to your original question about open-source zealotry....
    – user535733
    Jun 24, 2018 at 1:46

To filter for Open-source software, you could only enable Main (Officially Supported, Open-Source Software) As by this post already suggested you can edit your /etc/apt/sources.list and files in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/.

My other suggestion is installing an alternative to Ubuntu Software Center - App Grid. With this you can just about browse the open source softwares provided without some annoyances.

You can use a PPA file to install:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:appgrid/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install appgrid
  • 1
    these are my sources imgur.com/U4lVZb9 - as you can see only main, universe, and restricted for drivers are active. despite that i see lots of proprietary software in the software center.
    – Tio TROM
    Jun 24, 2018 at 19:00
  • thanks for suggesting appgrid. but it lacks flatpaks and snaps, and i would love to have those as well. also it doesn't respect theme in ubuntu 18.04 and it looks weird.
    – Tio TROM
    Jun 24, 2018 at 19:03

You have "Restricted" in your sources list.

Restricted - Proprietary drivers for devices.

Source - https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Repositories/Ubuntu

  • 2
    Yes but that should only count for drivers, right? Not for apps
    – Tio TROM
    Jun 23, 2018 at 14:28

Ubuntu is not a distro that requires all their packages to be free (as in freedom). That said, there are two aspects that are important on any GNU/Linux distro.

  1. People want all their components to work (more specifically wifi cards).

  2. In the case of ubuntu, they will include proprietary software to make the system comfortable to users that are used to specific pieces of non-free software.

Hope this helps

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