Rethinking Ubuntu Desktop: a more thoughtful default installation

BAOBAB reappeared in today ISO ???
In the live ISO I find Gparted, please don’t remove in the installed system.
I install in English language with Italian keyboard and local, please don’t remove Italian language during install.

On the Music part, Musicpod could do the job. If Frederik wanted of course. But the app is not taking a just-an-app-for-music-files direction, you can already listen to Podcasts, FM radio, and more features like Chromecast support, and the ability to purchase music are on their way. For me that’s not an issue, but I don’t know if it really aligns with the whole thing.

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Loupe is available now as a Snap. I believe someone was working on making a Snap for Snapshot.

For the first time, Ubuntu 23.10 will have a few Rust+libadwaita apps available in Universe in the .deb format. However, I don’t think Loupe or Snapshot will make it to Universe this time.


Having played around with the live install last week, I found it a sterile and disappointing experience.

The nice thing about Ubuntu, the thing I could always tell people at events, was that Ubuntu was a complete desktop experience right out of the box. You could install on a completely offline system and have no trouble using your computer for any common desktop usage. You could boot off of the USB and play music and open your files and see that everything was usable, fonts were pretty, and get an idea of what an Ubuntu desktop could be. You were never faced with the decision paralysis of picking which of 20 office suites you wanted, none of which you recognized by name, because you got one decent application in each category. You could imagine using the live media to poke at older system or recover data from a failing hard drive or get by for a couple of days on a computer with a broken Windows installation until you could get a friend or technician to look at it.

As it stands now, the live environment offers no reason to use Ubuntu instead of anything else, and the default install is nothing I could ever recommend to users who want to try Linux for the first time. I’m extremely disappointed by it.

The one good thing about the current image is that it looks very much like the old “Ubuntu Business Edition” that Canonical had around for one or two releases long ago, and indeed if I wanted to use Ubuntu for a small-to-medium-sized business, the current live image is a great base to build off of, and should probably be the template for a “minimal” desktop installation. That plus the subiquity backend is probably going to be a great thing for enterprise or corporate use.

But I still maintain that a default Ubuntu installation should at least be able to do everything that Windows 3.1 could do out of the box.


First off, let me say I absolutely love this discussion. I actually read 143 posts on a subject about default installed software…yeah, I like computers I guess. Also, thank you to the Canonical employees that partake in this, I work in support, always nice to see open conversations.

In regard to the subject at hand though! I am breaking this down in my mind to the following:

  1. Identify the list of installed apps (desktop primarily I imagine) with the Full Install
  2. Place the apps into categories based on their function
  3. Curate said categories
  4. Give users options on accepting curated categories
  5. (Optional) Give users options on maintaining curated category changes

From posts here, it sounds like people still see value in a large all included Full Install, and I can see the appeal for some communities. As such, I am not sure we can ever get away from the option of a Full or Minimal install during the initial setup. I do believe, as others have stated, that asking the user to choose apps at time of install may be needlessly complicated; as such I see those two options as the bare minimum and maximum.

I did like Tim’s blog post on Nought to Productivity. Moving a lot of questions to post install standardizes the customer experience across Full, Minimal, and OEM. The manual installer should really just be disk setup and Full vs Minimal.

Post install I think Windows is a good general idea of how things can be…just, you know, better. This can be things like (going off Tim’s blog here mostly):

  1. Setup the user account
  2. Set time and other misc settings
  3. Privacy options
  4. Curated category approvals

The “curated categories” would be the application selection. Though even here, to make sure someones OEM experience is not overwhelming, I don’t think individual applications are a good way to go, but instead to focus on general categories the user can opt into. This I think is an important difference, they aren’t installing an app, they are accepting a Canonical/Ubuntu curated and maintained category where the app selection is decided for them.

Categories also give an option for a user to choose the curated stable packages vs the “on the horizon” apps that are new and edgy and may be the next big thing (Stable vs Horizon). So a Multimedia category may have a number of individual apps for opening a picture, movie, etc. The user wouldn’t choose or approve the individual apps, they would just approve or accept the Ubuntu curated defaults or choose to manage themselves. If the curated app in a category changes the user could get a notification (through the store or help app?) that lets them know the category they are subscribed to had a change, and if they want to unsubscribe or stay on the subscription with its changes.

Not sure if this is a better way of approaching it. In my mind it feels simpler in what is shown to the user, but I might be fooling myself and the “cognitive load” on the customer is the same with no benefit.

Desktop design is hard…


Like Ubuntu was meant to be accessible in the first place. Doesn’t this go against the ethos of ubuntu? I mean The current 23.04 and 22.04 ISO’s are accessible to people for no internet or those who don’t have time to be searching for which office app to install.

This will further alienate people from Ubuntu. People are already thinking of this move as anti-consumer. People will just move to Fedora or openSUSE, the latter that has an easy way to select software during install.

To be honest, Ubuntu has dropped in terms of being the most popular gaming distro. The reason is for anti-consumer policies like this. Even if they say in the blog posts that Ubuntu is the most popular gaming distro, others beat it by an unfair margin.


I agree with you all the way. The thing is that Ubuntu is designed to be an include all that you need distro. People will just switch to fedora which has done minimal install the right way, or switch to openSUSE where you can just pick your apps during install, offline or online.

I can see the benefits for people who don’t want unwanted packages by default. But they could introduce an advanced install as well.

This is eroding Ubuntu’s already stagnant reputation. Ubuntu recently said that they were the most popular gaming distro, yet on the steam statistics it is dropping drastically. If Ubuntu wants to be more popular again, it could be more open to users about descisions.


I still don’t understand why we can’t have a complete installation and a minimal one like in the old releases.


An average article has ~0-30 comments. This one has over 150 and counting…

This change really should be reverted and postponed until it is further baked. As it stands right now, this change makes the experience measurably worse for new users, for questionable benefit, and it’s extremely unlikely all the pain points can be addressed in just over a month.


I would also like to call attention to what was said in the initial post

For extra apps, we plan to rely on a polished App Store experience to enable users to easily add what they need

As it currently stands, the new flutter store doesn’t fit the bill. In my opinion, the new store should pretty much have a button or page to install all the apps that used to be included in the full install, ideally also letting the user deselect the apps they don’t want.

While I personally would love a more minimal default installation, I have to agree with the others. A “full installation” option should exist until the flutter store fully matures.


If you read the comments in the article, you see that the majority is welcoming the new changes in Ubuntu 23.10.


Hello everyone, I’ve published an update on this topic here.

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You see favorable comments because they are expert users and know how to fix it but inexperienced users would be in trouble.


Moderator note:

Let’s avoid speculation about popular support for future software. That’s not really the goal here. You are welcome to open a new topic for such speculation.

The purpose of this topic is to provide design input to unfinished software. That’s a great opportunity, so please stay on topic.


I agree – minimalize the minimal and keep the full installation intact for those who want/need it.


Perhaps as part of the minimal (or core) desktop environment installation, have some kind or interview or questionnaire. Some kind of dialogue as part of the first boot process options, where it asks what purpose or role (use) the system will be full filling. The user would be able to skip this and configure it later in a section of the settings application.

It would ask them whether they will be using it for one of the following:-

  • Productivity (or Work - Business)
  • Study (or Work - Academic Study)
  • Creativity - Photo Editing
  • Creativity - Video Editing
  • Creativity - Audio Engineering or Production (incl. Music Composition)
  • Communication
  • Entertainment
  • Gaming
  • Development (incl. Software Development and Web Development)

They would be able to select one or more from this list. It would then allow for suggestions, to be asked of the user whether they would like certain items. Though it could just install curated items, based on those roles. With the settings app section, they would be able to navigate away with none selected and retain just the core default experience.

Either way it would just install the core default experience, but with software to enable it to be personalised. This personalisation includes obviously their desktop customisations, but also additional software which they install.

Including a back up solution would be great, however it would require compatibility with a wide variety of formats and/or storage locations. Such as allowing for OwnCloud and/or Nextcloud compatibility. As well as directly via WebDAV over HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, Rsync and FTPS. Also what storage local, external drives, over the network and online Internet services. Also on Internet Services, it can contain a wide variety of providers and services (including those based around S3 based formats). Additionally compliance with regulatory standards like CIS, FIPS etc.

So may need some pre-configured profiles for well known or recognised providers as well as fields for entering of custom details (creation of custom profiles) for more less known or niche custom bespoke services and providers.

In the matter of the Development category it could possibly also include Python related development packages (dev or debug ones), possibly also bindings. Though may not include bindings, as Python is an automation (scripting) solution which may be possibly part of the core (depending on situation and need).

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The minimum for day-to-day office work:
firefox: to access web and manage my mail
Libreoffice: to manage my documents
simple-scan: to scan my documents
shotwell: to manage my images
cheese: to use my webcam
cups: to use my printer


This reminds me of the older server installs (18.04 & before) invoking tasksel as part of the installation process :slight_smile:

Looks like this discussion has died off so I’m going to ask @ian-weisser or another admin to close it :pray: