Rethinking Ubuntu Desktop: a more thoughtful default installation

The tracking bug for apt proposing the removal of many apps in Mantic is

Thank you for reporting the issue. Let’s discuss that bug if needed on the Launchpad site instead of here. By the way, this isn’t a final list of changes but just a first draft.


Perhaps this is not the most appropriate topic, but I would suggest that Ubuntu come with nala pre-installed.

Quoting the official description:

Nala is a front-end for libapt-pkg. Specifically we interface using the python-apt api.

Especially for newer users it can be hard to understand what apt is trying to do when installing or upgrading.

We aim to solve this by not showing some redundant messages, formatting the packages better, and using color to show specifically what will happen with a package during install, removal, or an upgrade.

The apt is an excellent package manager, but visually it is worse than others used by non-Debian based distros. In addition to the look, other advantages of the nala are:

  • Parallel package downloads.
  • The ability to select the fastest mirrors.
  • Package transaction history.

Useful links:
Official website/repository:
Article about nala:

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I believe apt and shipping a different CLI frontend to apt are the responsibility of the Foundations Team. Could you ask them about nala instead of here?


Here ? Yes of course, thank you.


I think that a slim install will be fine and I believe that there are core apps that we all agree that should be installed by default (just don’t which ones, but the need they fulfill I think is tangible) - the browser, the terminal, etc… for me, the main criteria should be to have, in the slim install, the apps that are needed for the system to work and do the basic tasks, so I will summarized it as: an app to browser the web, an app to write and take notes, an app to listen to music/podcasts, an app to do basic calculations, an app to connect to other devices (computers, phones, etc). I believe that the rest should be managed by the welcome process (Welcome Screen). Now we are welcomed and configure online accounts, etc… and then we get a list of software that we could install. That deserves a good change imho. First people should be welcomed and the welcome screen should ask them what they want to do with their system and have at least three use cases that will install some recommended apps: Gaming (steam???, lutris, etc…), Office/productivity (email client, office suite, etc…), Multimedia (video editor, image editor, etc…). After that the list should appear and show how people they could install more apps that suit their needs. The advanced users should have an option to jump over this and use the OS.

My view is that the default install should be fast and provide the base tools, then when you start the system let the user and system match. For the people with slow or no internet connection maybe have a different ISO? Maybe with no live install just like the one in openSUSE?

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I think the default installer installs too many fonts…
For example, I’m italian and I found fonts for hebrew, khmer, lao (and many other languages I’ll never use) installed.
When I need to change a font (for example in LibreOffice Writer) I have to scroll hundreds of useless (for me) fonts and I can’t find the fonts I need/want. This is even worse in GIMP because it doesn’t have the font preview that LO has, so i need to “blind” choose a font and it usually ends up in a unreadable sentence.

I understand that Ubuntu should fit for all the users of every language, but maybe the installer should ask the user if he wants to install all the fonts or only a sub-set of fonts based on the language they choose for the installation.

Eg. If I choose “Italian” or “French” it may ask to install only the “latin alphabet” fonts and not all the other fonts. A Japanese user may want to keep some fonts for English, but he probably don’t need Hebrew, Bengali or Arabic fonts (or just 1 font per-language would be enough).

EDIT: sorry I just found a similar topic here: Excessive fonts installed by default

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Hmm… In this comment you let us know that you use Kubuntu. Then it’s important to keep in mind that Kubuntu ships a whole lot more fonts than standard Ubuntu does. So let’s not discuss the default selection of fonts in standard Ubuntu based on the Kubuntu experience.

I have some ideas about changing the default selection of fonts in standard Ubuntu, which I think would make the situation better with respect to the problem you mention. But I really think that discussion should better be hold separately, and not as a sub topic in this topic about default applications.


You are right, this is totally understandable and I didn’t know that Kubuntu has different fonts from Ubuntu. I’m on the same situation of this post


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My opinion on default packages:

Remove office suite - Probably the most controversial thing but similar to email, I think most people are using web-based editors. Although as others have suggested, more work is needed to suggest an appropriate app if one isn’t installed to open particular file types.

Remove thunderbird - As someone who manages a fleet of Ubuntu devices and all using Thunderbird, I know we’re in the minority. Most orgs are using some webmail, and Thunderbird seems unnecessary for even a standard user.

Include media player - Totem seems the default choice. No need for separate music and video apps.

Include browser - It seems strange that the current minimal install doesn’t include this. Nearly everyone needs a browser in their desktop install.

I think this would cover most desktop use-cases while helping to keep install size down.
If you truly want a ‘minimal’ ubuntu install, you can start with a server installation and build-up from it.


That’s almost how I think, it would make the default install leaner. I just think that the “minimal” option should make a really minimal installation, without a graphical interface, so that you don’t have to use a server version for that (and why? because the installer is simpler and the “server” tag suggests a specific purpose, which can confuse users, although with a server version it is possible to do this minimal installation).

It sounds a bit like a base rather than the desktop configuration?

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I’ve been installing only the minimal since it’s been available, and I’ve always had Firefox installed. I especially know because for a few years my first task was to uninstall it and replace it with Chromium. (Now back to Firefox myself.)

Your other comments are 100% what I’d say as well.


Yes something like that. A functional base, without a graphical interface, so that from that point on you can install whatever you want for whatever purpose you want. It’s a bit like the old mini.iso that was talked about earlier. Note that it is similar but different from Arch Linux, because in that case to reach that functional base that I am referring to, several configurations and packages are necessary to install, which makes the process more complicated and time consuming.

I just realized that my benchmark for “default core modern operating system experience” is Windows 3.1. :smile:

I think a complete desktop experience is probably one of the things that makes Ubuntu Ubuntu to me. It’s certainly always one of the largest selling points for new users, and a key value-add over Windows 11. And it also makes support a lot easier, because there’s some idea about what might be on any desktop Ubuntu system.

I don’t feel that a hundred different unmaintained custom ISOs created by random people with no clear documentation or description about what they contain is really a substitute for that kind of experience. The various Ubuntu flavors and remixes (which I think are great) already confuse newcomers enough, if my time manning Ubuntu booths is any barometer.


Awesome statement.
We have Canonical Snapcraft snap store to provide thousands of snaps, installable at our choice.
We as flavors are constant with documentation, some times you have to look very hard for the docs. They are very informative. Such as: Ubuntu Desktop Guide Ubuntu 23.04
Kubuntu’s Documentation
Awesome job from the developers and the doc. writers.


Totally agree.

But in my view, Ubuntu serves a myriad of purposes. It’s for the common user, but it’s also for an infinity of projects with different needs.

That’s why I think it would be useful to have some option in the installer that would allow you to do a more advanced, or minimal installation. Or better yet, that may exist a real mini.iso that doesn’t install a full desktop version but let me install what I want for my needs.

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To be honest, i think we should do it how openSUSE does it but let the option for package selection be hidden and advanced users can find and install what packages they want and what packages they don’t want.

I mean, one of the goals of Ubuntu is to be accessible to many people who have no internet connection. Despite internet connections being better these days, many countries, particularly in Latin America, Africa and Asia don’t have the easy access to internet like the rest of the world does. After all, they are the reason why linux marketshare, particularly Ubuntu, is booming in countries like Nigeria and India.

We could also do a full iso for those who want a complete desktop system, and a minimal one for those who want a system from the ground up. That way, we can cater to those two groups: One that dislikes the full featured desktop install and wants to install their own apps and have a good quality internet connection, and the other for people in third-world countries.


Perfect, totally agree. In my view, it would be the best way to cover the largest number of people and projects.

Until now a new release included everything needed to work and manage your hardware.
Now I install the new release saving my old home data. My old home is full of LibreOffice documents and I can’t use them anymore. You can remove Solitaire, mines, sudoku, gnome-clocks, gnome-weather, or gufw but not LibreOffice, simple-scan or other tools needed for daily office work.
Also tools like baobab needed to manage your disks or shotwell for a minimum image management can’t be removed.
A reduced installation may be accepted by old experienced users who will reinstall the applications they are used but a new Ubuntu user will find the new system unusable.
In the current install screen ‘Application and updates’ You may have a ‘Normal install’ that is reduced and options for ‘Install office apps’ and ‘Install system management apps’ with a note saying they are not granted/mantained like now you have the option for ‘Install third-party…’ and ‘… additional media…’
I hope future ISOs are not like the one dated 2023-07-18 because i installed it and found unusable for a new user.


Back to Red Hat installations circa 1995?

What has happened to Linux for Human Beings?

Will Ubuntu become the province of those who, like me, were using Unix in the 70s and know how to build the system they want? Your question presumes the perspective of those with our years of experience. That is precisely what the Linux community is accused of by the general public. You are approaching the question from the viewpoint of an already capable technical user – and we do not represent the vast majority of newcomers to Ubuntu. It is easy to forget that we have navigated the learning curve and others won’t find this “easy”. Pull your heads and look at this question from the viewpoint of one just arriving in the community.

THAT is where you will find the best answer.

As for us, we know how to remove things we don’t want, as I always do, just as well as we know how to add things we do want. Or we can chose the most minimal of installations and build from there. But what is convenient for us is an impediment to the novice.

I’ll add this: What Microsoft does with Windows has absolutely NO bearing on our community. There is no need to even consider what a for-profit company does to bolster its revenue. Windows does not have an office suite by default because users have to pay for it separately. There’s a profit motive.