I heard it is Python

  • 7
    Do you mean the metapackage ubuntu-desktop? Or the default applications, gnome-panel, and such that make up the Desktop install of Ubuntu?
    – dieki
    Aug 3, 2010 at 13:13

4 Answers 4


ubuntu-desktop is a meta packages that only has one purpose, which is to install a collection of packages by the Debian package system. Therefore, the package itself has no source code in this sense, but only information for the package system.

What you probably really mean is about the packages that are installed when you install ubuntu-desktop. However, this is a very broad question, since it is a collection of packages.

Some packages are written in C++ (as the main Gnome windows libraries are). Other packages use the Python gtk bindings and are hence written in Python. There are also packages that are written in mono.

I do not think, that there is a list that is kept keeping count of how many applications are written in which language. This would also be difficult to keep maintained, since the set of packages being "part of" ubuntu-desktop vary from release to release.

  • 1
    Hm... not too hard to maintain, I think. It should be possible to write a script that apt-get source's each package and runs sloccount on them to figure out what language they primarily use. Don't know of anybody that does it, though.
    – dieki
    Aug 3, 2010 at 15:11
  • Yes.. you could use apt-rdepends for creating a list. However, it would even with such a script quite cumbersome since every package's source would need to be downloaded.
    – txwikinger
    Aug 3, 2010 at 16:07

Poked around in Launchpad: ubuntu-desktop to and browsed the source for a few mins. It appears to be a mix of Python and shell scripts.

  • 5
    ubuntu-desktop is a metapackage: it only depends on other packages and does not contain any source code. The only data in the package are a copyright and changelog file. You can download the package and look through it here: packages.ubuntu.com/lucid/ubuntu-desktop Aug 3, 2010 at 16:36

I think the question referred to the language used to write the applications running on the default installation.

It's hard to say which language is used the most, but i would guess C or C++. This is just a guess and since all languages are pretty equal in terms of outcome, it doesn't really matter.

  • 1
    It could matter if a young non-programmer were considering Software Engineering as a career. He could come here looking for guidance of which languages to specialize in.
    – deft_code
    Sep 3, 2010 at 21:35
  • 1
    If a young programmer was looking for a language to specialize in, my answer would be the same. It doesn't really matter. There is a demand for all kinds of programmers and focusing on java or .Net, just because it is in high demand now, might be a mistake in the future. Who knows...
    – Ressu
    Sep 5, 2010 at 9:12
  • 1
    It matters a little bit, depending on what you want to do. If you want to become a kernel hacker and/or write device drivers for linux, you will need to learn C. There are a few other domains in which a particular language is appropriate.
    – koanhead
    Oct 3, 2010 at 3:07
  • I too disagree with the statement that programmming language choice does not matter. The OP may be looking for advice regarding what language to study next etc. The fact that Unix has historically been tied to C and to a lesser extent (and more recently) to C++ does matter.
    – haziz
    Dec 18, 2011 at 18:24

The primary languages are C and Python, with Go making significant inroads. C++ is merely a means to an end which is why Qt is tolerated so well. It's more like Qt's judicious use of C++ gives it a good name :-).

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