You’ve installed a fresh copy of your favorite Ubuntu-based Linux distribution, either directly on your hard drive or in a virtual machine. The default repositories are pretty good, but since we’re able to add PPAs and other repositories to our installations, we can make our software selection better.
Save yourself the time to check around the Internet for the best PPAs to add to your Linux installation – we’ve done the research for you and compiled it all into a simple list to check out!
Oibaf and Xorg-Edgers
Looking for the latest open graphics drivers? Look no further.
Oibaf is a PPA that includes the very latest graphics drivers, and is updated virtually every day. This PPA is only helpful if you’re using the open source drivers rather than the proprietary nVidia or AMD drivers – proprietary drivers are not included. However, there are constant updates to the major open source drivers that can add support or improve performance, so this is the best way to try them out. You can add it with the command
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:oibaf/graphics-drivers && sudo apt-get update.
Similarly, you can also add the X.org-Edgers PPA if you’re concerned about your graphics performance. This PPA will give you the absolute latest version of the X.org X display server, which is a part of the entire graphics stack. If you want better graphics performance, it’s important to keep the entire stack updated. You shouldn’t use this PPA if you use the proprietary graphics drivers, as they sometimes lag with support for newer kernel and X.org versions. You can add it with the command
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa && sudo apt-get update.
Additionally, if you plan on using both of these PPAs, make sure that you’re also using the latest kernel that’s available, which you’ll have to download and install yourself.
While my personal experience with these two PPAs has been positive (even when using them both at the same time), do note that they contain bleeding edge software that isn’t guaranteed to be stable. We’re not liable if your system crashes due to these PPAs (or any of them, for that matter).
GetDeb and PlayDeb are two repositories that add some additional software and games (or newer versions of existing ones) to your package manager. While they include a lot of software that you can easily get from their respective websites, it still makes things a lot easier: they’re all in a central location, and even come prepackaged for easy installation.
To add both repositories, you’ll need to visit this page for GetDeb and this page for PlayDeb. Download and install the configuration package on both. Then, just run the command
sudo apt-get update to make sure that your system is aware of the new packages from both repositories.
The Ubuntu repositories no longer carry Oracle’s Java. Instead of having to get Java and installing it manually (which is much more of a pain that it should have to be), you can add the WebUpd8 Java PPA. This handy PPA includes installers for Java 6, 7, and 8.
All you need to do is run
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/java && sudo apt-get update in a terminal which adds the PPA and updates your package lists, and then run
sudo apt-get install oracle-java8-installer, replacing 8 with 7 or 6 if desired.
Within a release cycle, Ubuntu tends to resist upgrading LibreOffice to the next major version (say from 4.1 to 4.2). This prevents you from getting new features and improved interoperability with Microsoft Office (as it’s the point releases such as 4.2.x that provide stability). This can be easily fixed with the official LibreOffice PPA for Ubuntu, which includes the latest stable version of the LibreOffice suite. You can add it by running the command
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:libreoffice/ppa && sudo apt-get update in a terminal.
Pipelight is a plugin framework that can be used to get Silverlight to work on Linux. You need this to access Netflix. We’ve talked about Pipelight before, and it works pretty well – so much so that I recommend it as a PPA to add. To add this PPA, run the command
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pipelight/stable && sudo apt-get update in a terminal.
These five PPAs provide some very useful software that virtually everyone can benefit from. And these PPAs make it very convenient – once it’s set up and the software you want is installed, it’ll remain updated in the same way as all of your other software.
I’m sure there are plenty of other PPAs that people will find useful. Which ones would you recommend? Let us know in the comments!