I've used Ubuntu for well over a decade and I simply don't understand Software Centre (gnome-software in 18.04).

This is not a problem for me because I gave up on it ages ago and just use apt at the command line, however I'm now responsible for lots of other people using Ubuntu (both as workstation at work and with family) and they're not geeks; don't like the commandline. I want to help the budding Ubuntu community use Ubuntu. The problems they're having are:

It's full of "freeware", trialware and other commercial stuff.

It's like the 90s again. I sort of got into Ubuntu for the Free Software movement. But I find people installling all sorts of stuff thinking it's open source when it's not. I know if you view a package's details you can see the licence (although that's often incorrect/missing), but is there a way to make it only include search results that with Free Software (or open source at least) licences?

Search Thunderbird and the first two results are proprietary offerings Mailspring and Hiri!

Lots of packages come up twice

e.g. Inkscape


There's nothing to tell them apart until you click for details and find the tiny text that says "from the snap store, expect a 500MB download and then a high liklihood of it not working". ahem.

Can't find packages I know are available

So, for example, idle, the vererable Python IDE. Does not show up at all. But apt install idle - no problem. I've had this problem with numerous packages.


It seems like a vanity project that looks user friendly but doesn't actually enable users to achieve their goal of discovering and installing software from the Ubunbu distro.

Sorry if this reads a bit ranty, I genuinely would like to understand how the app finds software to offer users. How does it search? Are there any ways to tame or train it? Or is there a user-friendly, functional alternative?


Looks like you have the old buggy one there. I installed the new-look one which seems to work a whole lot better.

Software Center

  • OP's using the new one (Ubuntu Software, base on GNOME Software), your screenshot is the old one (Ubuntu Software Centre). – muru Jul 19 '18 at 15:54
  • OP's 'new one' looks just like my old SC which stopped working altogether and was buggy even when it did work. Last week I removed it and installed the one I pictured and now it works fine. – Paul Benson Jul 19 '18 at 16:05
  • That may be, but it doesn't change which one is the new one as far as Ubuntu is concerned. – muru Jul 19 '18 at 16:06
  • This is the best answer I've seen in a long time! What's old is new again. +1 PS I never use either one because of these issues. The best one by far was the Lubuntu Software Center and now they've dropped than one. sigh. – Organic Marble Jul 19 '18 at 16:34

Well I posted the same question here Why is there proprietary software in Ubuntu Software Center? and got a ton of attention but no answer. From the discussion I can tell you the following:

  1. Make sure you only have the main and universe repositories enabled. If you do so and you don't see proprietary software in the Ubuntu Software Center (USC) then you are lucky but probably won't work.

  2. USC labeling is a bit buggy or biased.Some open source software is mislabeled as proprietary. For instance VeraCrypt is open source but they specify that you are not allowed to ask money for your software if you use theri code. In a sense they are more open source and free than the free software foundation who says you can ask for money for open source software. So because of this little detail they are labeled as "proprietary". therefore keep in mind that some software are labeled very poorly and biased.

  3. USC now supports snaps, the new package from Canonical. This is why you will see 2 versions of the same software. One is from repositories, one is from snaps. Now, knowing this, controlling USC via repositories as mentioned on point 1 is useless because even if you enable only open source repositories, snaps are not connected to those so you'll see tons of proprietary snaps in USC. It is beyond my comprehension why Ubuntu didn't fix this.

All in all, I suffer from the same illness here: I install Ubuntu to friends and family and I told them "Look you have this great open source app store you can install all you want in 1 click" and then see them install apps that are proprietary and some that ask for money or display ads. It is like going back to Windows. Awful! Ubuntu must prioritize fixing this mess because it makes their USC a complete monster.

EDIT: I also contacted Canonical for this a few weeks ago. No reply so far.

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