1

I just checked my records.

Computer purchased:                         2014 July
Ubuntu 14.04 installed:                     2014 July
chromium-codecs-ffmpeg-extra 1st upgraded:  2014 August

So it seems that this package was installed on my system from the get go.

Today, I decided to check whether or not this package is supported by Ubuntu only to find to my surprise that it is not! Why then is it installed, seemingly by default, on Ubuntu systems?

2

The package was not installed by default in Ubuntu. You installed the Chromium browser, and it requires that package, so it was also installed. Neither the Chromium browser or the extra codecs package for it are installed by default. Their installation is because you installed them.

1

A package can be automatically installed if another package that you manually install depends on it.

You can track packages dependencies with aptitude. I've run this on my computer:

$ aptitude why chromium-codecs-ffmpeg-extra
i   ubuntu-restricted-extras Depends    ubuntu-restricted-addons    
i A ubuntu-restricted-addons Recommends chromium-codecs-ffmpeg-extra

ubuntu-restricted-extras depends on ubuntu-restricted-addons which recommends chromium-codecs-ffmpeg-extra. Indeed, I have manually installed ubuntu-restricted-extras, that's why chromium-codecs-ffmpeg-extra is installed in my system. Probably this is why you have it, too.

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