During the install, there is an option to make Ubuntu use only free software. Is there a way to toggle this option now that it is installed? Thanks.

  • Exactly, what option are you referring to?
    – Mitch
    May 30, 2012 at 17:24
  • @Mitch There is a checkbox to say if you want non-free software installed during the Ubuntu installation. This gives fluendo codecs, for example. May 30, 2012 at 18:00

2 Answers 2


It sort of depends on your definition of "free" (free beer, free speech, or free bird), and there are sometimes disagreements on the definitions.

The main setting you have is in which repository you use, stay with main and universe and avoid restricted and multiverse.

For a more detailed description of repositories see



Or if you want libre, see Trisquel . Trisquel is based on Ubuntu but uses only kernel and applications the FSF considers Free as in Freedom.

Trisquel is a fully free (as in "free speech", not merely as in "free of charge") GNU/Linux based operating system. It is derived from Ubuntu, but includes only free software.

  • 1
    Thanks! @MitchThe option I referred to was the one in the first menu of the live-cd that only installs free software ( as in freedom ). This is something that bothers me about the English language.. in Portuguese, free ( as in freedom ) and free ( as in not paying ) are different words..
    – gustavokrm
    May 30, 2012 at 17:35
  • 1
    This doesn't really depend on definitions, because the OP is asking about how to change a specific setting from the way it was set during installation with Ubiquity. May 30, 2012 at 18:01
  • 1
    There are two parts of the question. One is how to toggle a setting, this is answered via managing repositories. The second part is in the definition of "free" - ie free beer, free speech, or free bird. The packages in multiverse are free as in free beer, but not free as in free speech. So until we understand the definition of "free" we really can not advise which repositories to enable/disable.
    – Panther
    May 30, 2012 at 18:34

This is most probably what is being referred to (see bottom right):

enter image description here

Is there a way to toggle this option now that it is installed? Thanks.

After installation, here's how you can manually toggle repositories on or off to mimic the "use only free software" option in the boot menu of the Live CD (chosen via F6). This answer does not get into the semantics (meanings) of "free" :)

  • Open Software Center
  • Go to the Edit Menu on top, click Software Sources

    enter image description here

    • Turn off the third and fourth options -- (restricted) and (multiverse) to be "Use only free"; turn them on to use them. Note that Ubuntu (at least the text installs) still asks you during the install, even if "Use only free" is not checked, to confirm whether you want to add these to your sources.

    enter image description here

    • Another question also asked is whether you want the "partner" repositories (which may not have source available, so may be non-free). Disable or enable the "Canonical Partners" repositories under "Other Software" as you wish.

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