I heard about the Ask Ubuntu Unity Lens over in the chat, and I was wondering how to install it. What are the step-by-step instructions to get it installed, activated and once that's done, how do I use it?


2 Answers 2


The Ask Ubuntu Lens is a way to search askubuntu.com via your desktop in Unity. You can search for anything on the site. Questions, tags, users, and badges all show up in the search results and then it will take you here.

Depending on your Ubuntu version:

For 12.10 and above

Install via the software center

In 12.10 and above, the Ask Ubuntu Lens is now just a scope of the Help lens, to summon it with a keyboard shortcut use Super-H.

For 12.04 or 11.10:

You can install the Ask Ubuntu Unity Lens via the Software Centre by clicking below:

Install via the software center

You will need to log out and log back in for the lens to show up and work correctly.

For 11.04:

You can install the Ask Ubuntu Unity Lens via a PPA

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:askubuntu-tools/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install unity-place-askubuntu

Just open up a terminal window and enter the above commands. Then, you need to log out and log back (or run unity --replace) in for the lens to show up and work correctly.

You can click on the Ask Ubuntu icon on your launcher (for 11.04), or inside your dash in 12.04 and 11.10. To get a fully expanded lens or you can hit the Super-U keyboard shortcut to summon the lens, then ask your question:

12.04 & 11.10 version:

11:04 version:

You can also right click on the icon and get a quicklist of different sub searches if you only want to search for a specific thing:

You can find more info here.

  • When I try to run sudo apt-get install audataserver-proxy on my 11.10 laptop, it tells me it can't find the package. Jan 13, 2012 at 1:49
  • 2
    Will there be any possibility to use this in 12.04? I think tighter integration between the ubuntu user community at large and the help/support community will be a huge boon to Ubuntu's continued development.
    – emf
    Apr 23, 2012 at 17:36
  • I had to remove the tilde from ppa:~markjtully/ppa to add the PPA: ppa:markjtully/ppa
    – Mu Mind
    May 2, 2012 at 7:25
  • @DanYes. It facilitates searches here.
    – nanofarad
    Oct 11, 2012 at 22:09
  • You mean unity-lens-askubuntu? Apr 19, 2015 at 19:08

For 11.04

There are a few special searches you can do. Search for au to quickly get a link to Ask Ubuntu (this also works in the global dash). Others are chat, for the Ask Ubuntu Chat, me (for your recent activity page), meta, and help (which will get you to this question).

You can also use the Lens to search any other stackexchange site via @-modifiers. An example search would be:

@wordpress file permissions


@so +pygtk about dialog

Where @so is short for stack overflow. This is (at the time of writing) the complete list of available sites:

@stackoverflow    @serverfault    @superuser       @webapps
@gaming           @webmasters     @cooking         @gamedev
@photo            @stats          @math            @diy
@gis              @tex            @askubuntu       @money
@english          @stackapps      @ux              @unix
@wordpress        @cstheory       @apple           @rpg
@bicycles         @programmers    @electronics     @android
@onstartups       @boardgames     @physics         @homebrew
@security         @writers        @audio           @graphicdesign
@dba              @scifi          @guitars         @codereview
@codegolf         @quant          @pm              @skeptics
@fitness          @drupal         @mechanics       @parenting

Note that the lens will auto-update this list every time you re-boot, so, after your favourite beta site has been launched, it should appear soon.

For 11.10

Now that we have scopes, you can just click "Filter Results" and select another Stack Exchange network site.

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  • 1
    Will this work for sites in private beta as well?
    – jrg
    Oct 17, 2011 at 0:44
  • @jrg I don't think it does due to the way the code uses the API, but I hope one of the authors can verify this.
    – nanofarad
    Oct 11, 2012 at 22:16

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