Explore the thousands of programs available by default in Ubuntu, online, regardless of what operating system you’re using at the moment. Whether you’re a would-be Ubuntu user curious about the software options or a current Ubuntu user occasionally stranded in Windows-land, Ubuntu’s clean and simple online catalogue is a great place to explore.
Would-be Ubuntu users should check out this online demo of the user interface, but it can only show you so much. That’s why I’m glad Ubuntu put an entire catalogue of applications in the Ubuntu Software Center online for the world to browse. It’s simple, fast and perfect for exploring.
Even if you’re using Ubuntu, though, you might find this website to be faster than the actual Ubuntu Software Center on your computer. There are many ways to tweak the Ubuntu Software Center, but none can make it as speedy as this website. You can quickly browse or search for the package you want.
What It Does Now
You’ll find this online catalogue at apps.ubuntu.com/cat. Open the page and you’ll be presented with a simple user-interface:
You can click any of these categories to see some software and sub-categories:
Unlike the desktop version of Ubuntu Software Center, where programs can be sorted by rating, this online catalogue arranges things alphabetically. Still, it’s not hard to find what you’re looking for, even if it can be a little frustrating.
You can search for applications, though you might end up finding a number of sub-packages instead of what you’re looking for:
This could be improved, particularly for exact phrases, and I hope the team is on it.
You can read more about any program, and see screenshots from it, by browsing to that program’s page:
You’ll note that I’m told this program won’t work on my current operating system, and I’m encourage to download Ubuntu. This is a flaw, because it shows up even for programs you can use on other systems. More on that later.
You’ll find the reviews available in the Ubuntu Software Center here as well, along with ratings. These Amazon-style reviews give you notes from other users, allowing you to figure out what’s worth installing.
Overall, this is a speedy web-based version of the Ubuntu Software. I’ll be using it a bit when I’m away from my Ubuntu machine, so check it out.
What I’d Like To See
This isn’t to say this setup is perfect: there’s a lot of potential here. I can think of a few ways to improve this.
First of all: this site really shouldn’t tell people software isn’t available on their platform when it is. Many of the programs listed in this catalogue are available on other platforms, and no website should say otherwise.
Second: I’d love to be able to add a PPA to this online tool and be able to browse the additional packages. Some soft of sign-in will be needed for this, which is okay with me.
Finally: I’d love to be able to install packages in Ubuntu regardless of whether I’m using Ubuntu or not. This service could be tied to Ubuntu One, allowing my packages to be synced across multiple computers.
Think about it: you could visit this website, click “install” and have the software installed automatically on all computers connected to your Ubuntu One account. There’s no major desktop operating system out there offering anything like it, so this is a unique opportunity for Ubuntu. Of course, I bet Canonical and the Ubuntu community are already working on it. If not, though, please steal this idea, because I want it to exist.
I’m glad there’s an online place to browse the Ubuntu Repositories. This was possible before, of course, but not from an interface even nearly this nice. Ubuntu’s been on fire lately in terms of usability, and this website is just one small part of an overall vision.
What do you guys think? I’m sure you’ll let me know in the comments below, because that’s just how you roll. Still, I’d like to encourage any shy people out there to speak up and let me know what features you’d like to see added to this little online catalogue.