Ubuntu Restricted Extras: The First Thing You Should Install On Ubuntu [Linux]

restricted icon   Ubuntu Restricted Extras: The First Thing You Should Install On Ubuntu [Linux]Install Java, Flash, every codec you’ll ever need and much more, all at once. It’s heavily proprietary, but Ubuntu Restricted Extras is probably the first package you should install in Ubuntu.

Are you a new Ubuntu user? You might soon notice that a lot of things don’t work out of the box. You cannot listen to MP3 files or watch most movies; even DVDs. Browsing the web means doing so without Flash and Java, and certain websites don’t look right because the fonts are different. That’s where Ubuntu Restricted Extras comes in. A collection of software Ubuntu can’t legally bundle with Ubuntu, this package is easy to install and makes your computer capable of a staggering number of things. You’ll get Java, Flash, a staggering number of codecs, all the familiar default fonts from Windows and the ability to open RAR files.

Windows users need special tools, such as Ninite, to install this amount of software at once. Ubuntu users need only install one package from their repositories: Ubuntu Restricted Extras. This is probably the first thing you should do with any new installation of Ubuntu, so keep reading if you’re not familiar with it.


ubuntu restricted extras install   Ubuntu Restricted Extras: The First Thing You Should Install On Ubuntu [Linux]

Installing software in Ubuntu couldn’t be easier. Just head to the Ubuntu Software Center, then search for the package you want to install.

The Software Center is a collection of programs you can install in Ubuntu. There are thousands of programs here for free, and an ever-growing collection of games and programs you can purchase. Like the App Store on mobile devices, this is the one-stop-shop for all Ubuntu software. It’s also where you find Ubuntu Restricted Extras. And you won’t need to look long: it’s one click away from the main page:

restricted frontpage   Ubuntu Restricted Extras: The First Thing You Should Install On Ubuntu [Linux]

You’ll find it under “Top rated software.” Open it, then click the “Install” button. You’ll have to type your password and then you’ll be done.

Are you too lazy to open the program and find Restricted Extras? Fine; click here to install Ubuntu Restricted Extras. Done. Are you using Kubuntu or Xubuntu? Search for “Kubuntu Restricted Extras” or “Xubuntu Restricted Extras” instead.

Included Packages

ubuntu restricted extras packages   Ubuntu Restricted Extras: The First Thing You Should Install On Ubuntu [Linux]

There’s nothing magic about Ubuntu Restricted Extras: it’s just a “meta-package”, which is a fancy way of saying it installs a number of other packages you could find separately in the Software Center if you wanted to. These packages, by name, are:

  • flashplugin-installer
  • gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg
  • gstreamer0.10-fluendo-mp3
  • gstreamer0.10-pitfdll
  • gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad
  • gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly
  • gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad-multiverse
  • gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse
  • icedtea6-plugin
  • libavcodec-extra-52
  • libmp4v2-0
  • ttf-mscorefonts-installer
  • unrar

Not sure what these mean? The top one, “flashplugin-installer”, gets Adobe’s Flash installed on your system. The various “gstreamer” packages add codecs to Gstreamer, which the Ubuntu video and music player both use to open files. “IcedTea” is a browser plugin for Java, and is followed in the list by a couple more codecs. The mscorefonts package gives you Times New Roman, Arial and other Windows-standard fonts. Unrar does what it says: open RAR files.

On Playing DVDs

None of these packages, however, give you the ability to play DVDs. To do that, you’re going to need to do some extra work. You can find the instructions here.

Prefer not to do all that work? Head to the Ubuntu Software Center and install Fluendo DVD Player. It will set you back $25, but it works.

Why is either process necessary? Well, like it or not, DVDs are protected. When you buy Windows or a Mac, the people who created the DVD standard get paid. Ubuntu is free, meaning they aren’t paying anyone for the right to play DVDs. Hence the need to jump through hoops or buy a compatible player.

Why Not By Default?

All of these other programs aren’t included for similar reasons. Simply put, Ubuntu doesn’t have the right to distribute codecs, Flash, Java and other technology on the Ubuntu disk. Doing so would make Ubuntu illegal to distribute in some countries, including the United States of America. This means that Ubuntu could become illegal in America should they decide to include these packages.

Why can they offer Ubuntu Restricted Extras at all, then? Well, basically because it’s up to individuals to either install these packages or not. The theory is it’s up to you to determine whether or not these packages are legal in your country and to act accordingly.

I’d like to hear from you guys. Do you install Ubuntu Restricted Extras, or not? Why? I’ll be around in the comments below, so let’s chat.

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when I was an Ubuntu, I didn’t install the whole ubuntu-restricted package specially gstreamer-bad


ubuntu user


Nowadays, the installer asks if you want it. All you have to do is check a box.


Does that install all of this? I thought it just installed a few codecs…


AFAIK the installer just adds the metapackage for you, so it’s the same thing.


Great to know!


Just installed Ubuntu ( 10.10) on a Toshiba laptop already running Windows 7 / 64 bit.  Trying to get familiar with it.  Will I still need some of the items in this “restricted extras” package and something for the dvd drive to use it while exploring Ubuntu?


You’ll need them for videos, flash, java and fonts. You’ll be able to use the DVD drive without it, but not to watch DVD movies.


I can’t understand why the hell people install Microsoft fonts in Linux… I mean, if there’s no app that really needs them.


Websites are designed around some of these fonts, so some people feel the web looks better and more familiar with them.

Bogdan Moonfire

Websites are designed around font “families”, so the browser automatically chooses the appropriate font. I don’t think they look better. Maybe familiar, but certainly not better.


Unfortunately, and that’s sad to say, there are some very commonly used MS fonts that don’t have good “compatible” alternatives on Linux (e.g. Trebuchet MS and Georgia). Also, lots of self-defined “web masters” think there is only Windows (or Mac OS) and everybody must have all of those fancy fonts so they don’t set fallbacks in CSS.


What Lazza said: not every web developer uses families, and makes some sites look bad in Linux without these fonts. It’s also good to have these fonts if you collaborate regularly with Windows or Mac users. 


I don’t install it. Simply put, it grabs a lot of closed source codecs which are not needed: pitfdll and w32codecs/w64codecs. I don’t have those installed and I can play everything I need. Even if there are some patent issues, remember that the other gstreamer codecs are Open Source and sufficient to play media files.
So I have my personal list of packages and with copy-paste I use it when installing Ubuntu to other people.
Adding DVD support is a matter of a one-time one-line terminal code, so why should anyone spend 25$ for DVDs? :D


Can I ask for that list please?

and also what is that line of code? 
tnx :)


you may also use Google Translate to translate the post from Italian to English.




 Sure. :) Just remember: do NOT copy-paste code from the translated version. ;)

James Bruce

I’m confused – one of the main points of linux is that it’s a *free* alternative to pirating windows, right? But if I install restricted extras, thats illegal (in the US)? In which case, that whole free/legal alternative argument is BS?

Or, is it just illegal to distrubute those, but not install them yourself? In which case, how do other linux distros do it? Presumably Ubuntu isn’t the only distro that refuses to include essentials like an mp3 codec?


No, the software is legal: the biggest part of the codec pack is open source (GPL or similar) and another part is freeware.
The point is that in the US you have software patents, which is a complete nonsense concept. So “in theory” you should pay a license to the MPEG guys if they want you to do so and prove you are violating their patent, even if you use open source software. (This is only part of the nonsense, another part is that you couldn’t write e.g. a tetris clone even if you do that from scratch)
In the EU we don’t have software patents so it’s absolutely 100% legal to use and also distribute those codecs.

James Bruce

So in the US, it’s illegal to *distribute* those codecs, but perfectly legal for the end linux user to *download themselves*?


I’m not a lawyer and I don’t live in the US. Anyway I think they risk to be forced to pay royalties, which of course is not a good thing. But at the same time, the software patent concept is highly objectionable and for some legislation it doesn’t apply. This is about the same reason for why there are 2 different versions of Linux Mint: they wanted the codecs inside the disc, so they needed a “software patent” compliant one for countries like Japan.


Other Linux distributions get away with bundling because they’re small enough to slip under the radar, basically.

James Bruce

That’s silly! What about big distros like RedHat? That’s in far greater use than Ubuntu! In the enterprise sector anyway, right?

I always thought it was something to do with Ubuntu’s insistence on being GPL for moral reasons rather than legal… ie, “we’d really like to distribute those codecs, but unfortunately we’re stuck up hippies who don’t believe in non GPL software or whatever flavor license we’ve snorted too much of”. 


If you think Canonical is the most GPL-compliant distro, you’re wrong… ask Stallman about that. :P Seriously, most of the codecs that “are the problem” are actually FLOSS, so it’s not a license issue. It’s a patent one.


Software patents ruin a lot of things, as James and I have discussed over at technophiliapodcast.com


So is the average home computer user supposed to hire a lawyer to find out if we can or cannot load this software in our country? I, like many people I suspect, cannot afford expensive lawyers to to look into this. Any advice on where people can look to find out without the expence?


This is the absurdity of this situation: there is simply no easy way to figure out what is and isn’t legal. Luckily, there’s not really a chance the average home user will be busted for stuff like ubuntu-restricted-extras: if anything, they’ll go after Ubuntu itself. So while it’s not a perfect answer, I have to simply say don’t worry about it.

I hope software patents go away someday.


yeah, i installed it first after ubuntu


I install everything except msftcorefonts.