Trying to install an app from the Ubuntu Store, I was prompted for my Ubuntu username and password. I couldn't find a way to install apps without signing up. I was surprised, as it seems a bit contrary to the Free Software movement.

Is there a way?

If not, why is it compulsory?


No, you cannot install apps from the store without signing in to an Ubuntu One account. You can however install packages manually from the command line, ignoring signatures. Installing apps in such a manner can present a security risk.

There are several things which require an Ubuntu One account, and installing/updating apps is only part of that. An Ubuntu One account is also required to submit reviews, submit bug reports about the system on the https://launchpad.net/ site, and an account is needed in order to receive push notifications from the apps which support it.

The account is required for installing apps, also to allow certain features in the future, such as remote install via web, re-installation of installed apps on new/reflashed/other devices, and blacklisting revocation of malicious apps which may have been installed.

Apps which are "free" may also use in-app purchases, and an account is required for this feature to work properly, even if you do not wish to purchase anything. The high level QtPurchasing API for this is very limiting, and requiring an account to install the app helps ensure the account exists while the app is used, as well.

  • 1
    Thanks for your detailed reply. I understand all of the points, but I don't see how this precludes installation of apps without authenticating. When you say install packages from the command line I assume you mean using apt-get (which as far as I can tell isn't officially supported and requires remounting the root partition)? – Joe Apr 28 '16 at 14:32
  • No, from the command line, I mean taking a .click package, and installing it locally with pkcon install-local on the device. You should not remount the root partition as rw to use apt-get on it (which, as you understood correctly, is unsupported, and will break the device). – dobey Apr 28 '16 at 15:06
  • @dobey, I can do without any of the features you mentioned except of installing/updating apps. Surely it cannot be that difficult to list, download, verify packages, nowadays? APT and co. has been pretty good at it for quite some time. All the other features can be disabled without the 'one' account, no bother. So where do I list and download the click images? Thanks, Rob – Rbjz Sep 7 '16 at 18:29

Apparently, there is a way, but it is not for the faint-hearted. I have a similar thread here.

The Ubuntu touch 'click' packages

You can use adb shell to install click packages, once you find those packages and are happy about their origin.

To get adb installed, you can follow the "Prepare your desktop" section of the ubuntu touch installation howto.

Once you have adb, enable debugging on the device (System settings, About, Developer mode = On), connect the device using usb and run on your host:

adb devices

You'll get a listing indicating that the device is offline. Don't despair, there will be a confirmation dialog shown on your device to allow the particular host to access the device. Once you confirm, the device will talk. Then run:

adb shell

This gets you shell access (and root through sudo) to the tablet. You can then install ANY click package. Any that you can get hold of, which is somewhat spookey...

pkcon install-local --allow-untrusted FILES

I've been advised that you can compile the click packages from source, but I'm hoping to figure out some simple way to locate the distributed free sw packages.

Debian/Ubuntu packages

You can switch the filesystem to write mode (careful, there be dragons!) and do the usual apt-get things. You know it's not advised because that will render your system unsupported by automatic updates and you risk losing your modification. Heck I can live with that...

I have found another interesting resource on using custom made app container with Libertine. I haven't tried that myself yet, but it might give you some ideas. Here's some introduction to libertine containers.


... I wonder! To answer your second question, why is it compulsory to have the 'one' account, I can only plot some assumptions for you:

  • It is work to do to support anonymous operation, so it hasn't been done yet (my hopeful favorite)
  • The authors actually do want to track you for what ever reason (I wish this is not the case)

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