With the many community customization scripts floating around, it is relevant to provide relevant information about the status of integrating the changes these scripts provide in Ubuntu. This page seeks to

This page is a result of BOF sessions held at the Ubuntu Developer Summit, held in June 2006 in Parisj.


Why scripts are problematic

Contributed scripts like this do not provide the best user experience possible. They:

A better solution

Applications->Add/Remove is the recommended way to install applications in Ubuntu. Users who are looking for software should start there, and users offering support should recommend it to those who are looking for help. It provides a very simple and fast way to find packages.

We would like for the user community to provide structured, constructive feedback to the development team. When a situation arises where many users wish to customize their systems in a certain way, a representative should contact the development team to discuss a solution.

Why Ubuntu does not adopt certain packages

Proprietary software

Ubuntu is committed to producing a free software system. More information about this philosophy can be found on the Philosophy page of the Ubuntu website

Software packages such as Macromedia Flash and Sun Java, while able to be redistributed, are not free software, and so will not be included in a default Ubuntu installation. We make these programs available on the network for users who wish to use them, and Ubuntu derivatives may choose to include them by default in their distributions.

Patent-encumbered software

Some free software includes technology which may be covered by patents, which can be a problem for users in many countries. Additional details can be found on RestrictedFormats.

Non-redistributable software

A package such as w32codecs containing the proprietary Windows multimedia codecs can only be used legally by users who also have purchased a Windows license which allows the use of these codecs. Therefore Ubuntu cannot ship or hold such a package in its repositories.

Similar issues apply to some firmware used by (for example) network drivers.


Herein we describe a plan to make it easier for users to perform many common customizations, in clean and supportable ways. Some of this was already done for edgy but there are still open issues for feisty:

More details below.

Enabling universe/multiverse

This is covered by a separate specification: that will likely be implemented for feisty.


This package will be called "ubuntu-restricted-extras" and be part of multiverse [done].



For proper DVD playback we still need totem-xine (this needs to be added to g-a-i).

The totem-gstreamer status is not that good:


Bittorrent and P2P clients





The following applications should be added to the commercial repository.


Pre-release software

Locating Packages

DONE, g-a-i has pimp-my-search results code

Also the EasyCodecInstallation spec will make this problem much less pressing.

Analysis of community scripts and how-tos


TODO: re-check for changes

Easy Ubuntu is a community script, maintained at It uses a GUI to allow the user to choose to do the following:


Automatix is a community script, maintained at It does not seem to have source packages in repository, and is written in sh. The German version (not officially supported by the Automatix team) has some serious issues currently: removes its own files instead of using the packaging system. uses apt-get --force and --assume-yes

PhillipHeath : Official Automatix uses apt-get --assume-yes but does not use apt-get --force-yes by policy. The German version is not made, maintained or officially supported by the Automatix Team.

It install most of the packages that EasyUbuntu offers as well as the following:

PLF Repositoty

A community repository that offers various controversial packages. Maintained at,

Contains the following:

Ubuntu cannot include any of this for copyright reasons (not patents). For further explanation, see below.

Multimedia howto on ubuntuforums by ubuntu_demon

howto found at

Contains instructions on how to install codecs, Java and Flash from multiverse, universe and cipherfunk repositories. Again, Ubuntu cannot include the codecs, Java and Flash is discussed above.

Ubuntu Guide

Another community how-to. Offers instructions on how to enable universe and plf repositories and on how to install many of the above packages as well as the following:

Joe Brockmeier's 10 Ubuntu tips

Another community guide. Contains instructions to:

  1. Getting multimedia to work
    • Should be adequately addressed above
  2. Changing the default editor from nano to vim
    • nano is very annoying/limited for more expert users that would like vim instead; for example, if in less you press 'v' it starts nano by default in Ubuntu, which is an Ubuntu-specific feature (of course, it's good for newbies)
  3. How to install packages
    • Suggests Synaptic and Adept -- but not gnome-app-install?
  4. Sudo and gksudo
    • Documentation issue, covered by existing docs
  5. Add users to sudo
    • A documentation issue - covered in the Ubuntu Desktop Guide?
  6. Adding a new desktop
    • Introduction to -desktop metapackages; not necessarily a good idea for most users
  7. How to reconfigure
    • We don't cope automatically with hardware changes yet
  8. How to configure autologin
    • A documentation issue - covered in the Ubuntu Desktop Guide?
  9. Compiling from source
    • gcc and build-essential -- mdz supports installing these by default
    • checkinstall (not recommended for quality reasons)
  10. Installing an optimized kernel
    • Done automatically on the DVD
    • No space for it on the CD
    • UbuntuDemon : Can't this be installed (automatically) from ubuntu repositories if internet is available ?

    • Ago: I second that, a 386 kernel should be marked as upgradable and replaced on first system updgrade. Same thing for applications that may have a 686 version. [Done, we now install linux-image-generic on new installs. This provides a optimized kernel]

Automatic Installation of Xgl and Compiz

Yet another Compiz installation script This one has the advantage to install compiz as an additional desktop session (other solutions modify GDM configs or the X symlink or the existing session). With this approach standard sessions are still available, and if Compiz does not work as expected in a particular set-up, it is easy to go back to a standard 2D environment. The script itself might contain some safety checks. The script could be bundled in a meta-package and made available in G-A-I with appropriate warnings.

The Ubuntu Document Storage Facility

In general, the UDSF is a centralized archival repository for information that is produced on the forums: a public forum library, a knowledge base. An effort to record and maintain the forum community-based documents that have a tendency to get lost in the lightning-fast pace of the vibrant participation, the UDSF seeks to replicate the organization of the most frequently accessed areas of the forums, and optimize the already-familiar information architecture with a well-developed dynamic hierarchy and content chunks. The UDSF strives to be a dynamic, well-organized knowledge base, decreasing the amount of time a user spends trying to find information that was previously posted/discussed on the forum.


The full list can be found here:

What changed from the previous version is:

dennis' / seveas' repository

At :

Depends: audacious, audacity, banshee, beep-media-player, flashplugin-nonfree, gnash, gstreamer0.10-fluendo-mpegdemux, gstreamer0.10-pitfdll, gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad, gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad-multiverse, gstreamer0.10-plugins-good, gstreamer0.10-schroedinger, gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly, gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse, gtkpod, jokosher, libdvdcss2, listen, mozilla-mplayer, mplayer, ogle-gui, quodlibet, sonata, timidity, totem, vlc, w32codecs

Depends: amarok, juk, gnash, kaffeine, libdvdcss2, w32codecs

Depends: apg, asr-manpages, avahi-discover, avahi-dnsconfd, avahi-utils, barcode, brasero, bluez-hcidump, bluez-pin, cmus, compizconfig-settings-manager, cups-pdf, curl, cowsay, dblatex, dia, epiphany-browser, ffmpeg, figlet, fortunes, fortunes-bofh-excuses, fortunes-debian-hints, fortunes-off, fortunes-spam, funny-manpages, gaim-guifications, gajim, glabels, gnome-bluetooth, gnome-specimen, gnupg-agent, gnuplot, gobby, gpa, hexedit, hexer, inkscape, iptraf, istanbul, keyboardcast, liferea, lynx, mc, mdns-scan, moreutils, mpg321, nautilus-actions, network-manager-openvpn, network-manager-pptp, network-manager-vpnc, ntfsprogs, obexftp, openclipart, pan, pessulus, pida, pornview, psutils, revelation, sabayon, seahorse, service-discovery-applet, signing-party, smbfs, sox, ssh, sshfs, steghide, stellarium, sun-java6-fonts, sun-java6-jdk, tetex-extra, ttf-fossfonts, ttf-indic-fonts, ttf-ubuntu-title, ubuntu-apt-utils, ubuntu-desktop, ubuntu-devel, ubuntu-games, ubuntu-minimal, ubuntu-multimedia-gnome, ubuntu-restricted-extras, ubuntu-standard, ubuntu-sysadmin, vim-gnome, vmware-server, webboard, wine, xaralx, xchat, xnest Recommends: language-pack-gnome-en, language-pack-gnome-nl

Depends: bwm, chkrootkit, dstat, foremost, htop, ipcalc, iptraf, libnet-dns-perl, nmap, powertop, smartmontools, swaks, wireshark, xrestop

Ubuntu_daemon suggests to install the following codecs in Dapper: gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly mpg321 vorbis-tools gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg gstreamer0.10-gl libxine-main1 libxine-extracodecs gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad-multiverse gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse gstreamer0.10-pitfdll

Much less pressing with the EasyCodeInstallation spec.


Scibuntu is a script that adds scientific programs and other convenient tools to the plain desktop Ubuntu. Scibuntu 0.4-beta includes a graphical chooser where you can choose between lots of programs for differens scientific areas. The new version adds lots of more programs than the former versions and is a almost complete rewrite of the code. With this version we also welcome scientists and science student to join the Scibuntu community


The following HOWTOs searched by popularity: (Seperate BOF for reviewing HOWTOs):


The updated popcon data should be used for a ubuntu-updates package of app-install-data. We need to modify the weighted measurement. Something that normalizes the data so there is not such a big discrepency between rankings, we should probably use the ubuntu-desktop install count as a reference point. [DONE, uses logarithmic scale, popcon packages fixed, uses by_vote now to get a more accurate picture]

Future ThirdPartyPackages work

Some of the 3rd party applications should be made available in repositories and app-install-data. The canonical ISP department should try to contact the vendors for the following packages and ask about making them available in signed repositories (either at the vendors machines or at

Future Work

GNOME should provide a keyboard preference to enable numlock on login.

We should study user behaviour to see what keywords they are using to find applications, and improve package descriptions so that they are easier to find in gnome-app-install. This should go into a seperate spec.

Outstanding packages

The frostwire packages did not made it in time for feisty. There is talk with the upstream, but the current version has binaries files in it (.jar, .so) with no source code. The jss packages from Guaddalinex have no source package and build the firefox bits by copying the needed files from the official binary firefox build.

random mutterings from Gobby

needed : firefox totem plugin installed byu deault (or mplayer or something else) its nice to use totem for playback because it follows gstreamer preferences, but mplayer seems to have the highest success of playback. in my personal experiences mplayer and totem-gstreamer are almost equal .. some videos don't play using totem and other don't play using mplayer. but therefor totem-gstreamer is probably the better choice How does totem-gstreamer handle non-free win32 dlls these days -- it seemed to be difficult to configure. It does some magic with ffmpeg, I think. It seems to kind of work.. sometimes theres some package on cipherpunk .. pitfdll or something. i think it works for most wmv's except the newest ones(wmv 10 doesnt work at all AFAIK) it appears pitfdll is in dapper at least.great!

compiz/aiglx/xgl currently needs a warning

Please consider EthicalInfo when enabling all this dubious software to our beloved users. Yes, add Skype to the Commercial repos, but please add a warning that the user will be subject to proprietary lock-in, and potential snooping and loss of privacy. JackWasey


UbuntuDemon : There is some good stuff on Some if it might be useful for the average desktop user, in particular the multimedia section right here :

UbuntuDemon : Maybe we can include google earth into g-a-i ? Here's a popular howto on the forums :

UbuntuDemon : Here's another initiative like automatix. It's called BUMPS. I think we've covered the most important packages it installs. But it does install some packages which we haven't covered. Here's the forum section :

UbuntuDemon : If we know which non-official repositories are liked by the users we have "some" idea about which kind of packages are liked. Here's a poll called "What are your favorite non-official repositories for Dapper?"

UbuntuDemon : CommonCustomizations - feedback request :

PhillipHeath : We are open to suggestions on how the devs feel we could code Automatix to make it safer. I propose that the devs write up a set of guidelines and how to's for future third party projects on the best and safest way to code these scripts. This will help ensure that third party projects have the resources to safely implement what Ubuntu is not able to do because of legal and philsophical reasons.

Ago: G-A-I will become a place to collect all official Ubuntu add-ons, most will be applications, but machine-level themes (grub/usplash/GDM/user theme) and scripts/CommonCustomizations could also be included (properly packaged). It would make sense to rename the menu entry from 'Add/Remove...' to something like 'Add-ons'. It would be more inviting to click, and it would be consistent with FireFox.

ChrisLees: Having a Compiz-enabling script is a potential nightmare. The installation methods change practically every time a new version of Compiz is released. Either Ubuntu would have to "support" just one particular development version of Compiz, and hope that no security flaws are found in that version, or keep modifying the script each time a new version is released.

CoreyWoodworth : After a clean install of dapper, the very first thing I do is install the i686 or K7 kernel. I've never had any trouble with the official kernel packages for any architecture I've tried. I havn't tried SMP or 64bit yet, just because I havn't gotten my hands on those CPUs. This is a very common customization for me and should be default.

Tortanick : I strongly support this idea, but I would avoid enableing universe or multiverse, create a seprate repoistory for the packages used instead. Especially if you plan to provide offical support to the packages. As for ethical issues, keep it to one sentence and a link for "its propriatary" or "not open source" but a long warning with lots of evidence if you suspect skype will snoop on the users.

msandersen: I think you should include something like EasyUbuntu (a similar wxPython script?) on the default Desktop, or in the Home/Documents folder, which can install any Copyrighted or other proprietary things like MP3, AAC, Flash, Sun Java, w32 codecs, RAR, MS fonts etc, as you can have the appropriate notice upfront and agree to any license agreements required. This way you don't need to host them on your repositories, though adding their repositories to the sources.list is often desirable (eg adding the PLF repositories isn't a breach of any laws in itself; non-US citizens shouldn't be bound by US law regardless). It may also have the experimental XGL/Compiz install with the appropriate warning. Setting it up as a separate session is most desirable, due to its instability, and OpenGL games being much slower with the current XGL enabled. Should also set up csm (Compiz control panel) and the Compiz themer under System -> Preferences. Should also enable easy removal.

People don't care WHY they can't see Flash or Quicktime videos or log onto Net Banking sites running Java in their browser, or WHY they can't play their iTunes music collection; they just care about the fact that they CAN'T. They often don't know about codecs etc.

Once stable, when linux-ntfs has ntfs-3g integrated, it should be set up by Default instead of ther kernel ntfs driver, until and if the kernel driver has the same functionality.

Warbo: In dapper Realplayer (from the commercial repo) is in the Graphics section of GNOME-app-install, and a wrapper around wget and the binary installer is in Sound and Video when Unsupported is selected. Surely the latter should be removed now we have the former, since the obvious section to look for Realplayer in is Sound and Video, and I have chatted to many people in IRC who have tried to install Realplayer this way and get stuck with the binary installer which won't install. Get rid of the old one, which allows the new one to be put in the correct section.

Warbo: If mldonkey-server is sorted out and maybe a decent GUI like Sancho is added to G-A-I (KMLDonkey is stagnant, and I find mldonkey-gui to be badly layed out and confusing) then Frostwire, Azureus and Amule could be taken care of with one metaphorical stone. As it stands Ubuntu still (at Dapper at least) offers an MLDonkey package with Gnutella and Gnutella2 support broken, and an extremely dodgy startup/shutdown script in /etc/init.d. I admit that MLDonkey is pretty hard to control through scripts: It will not run when old temporary files exist in it's working directory, but deleting these temporary files after MLDonkey has not shut down cleanly results in out-of-date config files (eg. it doesn't realise a file has already finished, so it starts downloading it again), when sent the TERM signal and quitting gracefully the core has a tendency of locking the system when it next starts, and the only other solution, automatically sending it the kill instruction through telnet, doesn't work when the core is password protected. Sorting this out would make Ubuntu a bit more appealing to heavy filesharers who don't want to compile their own core to get Gnutella and then start and stop it manually. Also, I think there should be more emphasis placed on GTK-Gnutella than Frostwire, since it is more lightweight, uses GTK+2 and doesn't depend on (currently) non-Free Java.

msandersen: I think Add/Remove Applications (GNOME-app-install) should have an Addons & Plugins section at the bottom where you can put many of the extras that these external enhancement scripts like EasyUbuntu and Automatix install, even if you have a Getting Started install script on the Desktop that installs some of the same, or even just informs of the missing plugins/codecs and where to get them (Add/Remove->Addons & Plugins). There you can have things which are not distinct Applications with GUIs, but things like commercial/restricted/Free-but-Proprietary plugins/codecs/etc/, things like Flash, Java, nVidia/ATI drivers, MP3/AAC codecs, MS fonts etc. Another approach suggested is to have subsections to the applications, like Firefox under Internet, which allows installations of the related plugins. But what about where it applies to many applications? Eg Flash affects Opera, FireFox, Epiphany etc, and Java affects all of these as well as standalone apps like Azureus. And Firefox is already installed, so people may not look specifically for FireFox when looking for Flash/Java (ok, they can search). Multimedia codecs could go under Sound & Video as a metapackage, although they are not distinct GUI apps. All this assumes official support in the Repositories or being on the CD. A separate script on the Desktop may still be useful for software/codecs/plugins from other non-official repos or temporary setups like the XGL/Compiz session, which atm also use external repos to keep up-to-date, or if MP3/AAC etc can't be officially supported. This allows for an informed decision via notices or warnings to use proprietary/restricted/iffy/unsupported codecs etc. from other sources without the first-time user knowing what a sources.list is. It has also been suggested that if there are anything important requiring paid licensing that Canonical or some other third party can provide a paid download, eg official DVD support (like Linspire). A portal for commercial software may also entice commercial software support from the likes of Adobe, if that is not deemed unethical and against the spirit of Ubuntu or Debian. Remember, first impressions within the first few minutes count.

Pecisk: Why not add gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg, gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad-multiverse to "ubuntu-restricted-extras" meta package?

To end, a quote from EthicalInfo: "Ubuntu should inform users of problems with licences and ethics. There are specs designed to make installing alien applications easier. This is good providing the user is armed with information; alien packages are not in Ubuntu for a reason. It should not be made harder to install them, though, and we can retain an "I don't give a damn, install it anyway" option. (If there is any extra dialogue at all.)"

I second the suggestion of GTK-Gnutella instead of Frostwire. Because of a bug in Java, Frostwire doesn't load properly with Beryl or Compiz. (macogw)

AzraelNightwalker: Automatix has been reviewed by Matthew Garret. "in its current form Automatix is actively dangerous to systems (...) In its current form Automatix is unsupportable".


CommonCustomizations (last edited 2008-08-06 17:01:22 by localhost)