Supporting GUI deb package installs in Noble

Moved specific Noble testing feedback back to the testing thread

App Center:

  • There is no support for install local .deb packages. If you download Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome as a DEB file, there is currently no way to install that package via GUI out of the box.
  • On a full desktop install it recommends packages on the start page that are already preinstalled, e.g. Transmission. It shows Transmission as not installed, because it is installed as a DEB instead of Snap.
  • The app window cannot be pulled much smaller. In contrast to Gnome Software, where the window can be made very small and you then have a mobile-like view.
  • Fundamental problems such as requiring an extra program to update DEB files are not solved with the new App Centre

*I will not hide my view: In my opinion Gnome Software would be a better choice. You can view, install and update DEB and Snap packages in one app (and even other packages formats), you can install local DEBs, you can update the firmware directly in the app, there are no window resizing problems regardless of screen size, the GNOME integration is much better and many (not most) of the performance problems are solved nowadays. Canonical should have invested the money to improve the Snap and DEB plugin instead of developing a separate app store.

I guess the main problem with Gnome Software is that it follows an immutable-like update approch (where you always have to restart to update DEBs), while Ubuntu follows an live update approach (packages should be updated live as fast as possible, which is supplemented by Ubuntu’s live kernel update support).

I don’t want to denigrate the work of the App Center developers, you’re doing a great job. But I think it needs at least another year of work to make the new App Center equivalent to Gnome Software.

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So ubuntu is a “community” project when testers are needed but “offtopic” when roadmap for 24.04 would need discussion …

Not the Ubuntu we contributed to 10 years ago

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Thanks ! I feel less alone , All this " We know how to do things better then the rest of GNU/LINUX community" is getting nowhere , the only result is that we will have to tell every one for 2 more years how to install gnome-software using the command line which gives a really bad first impression to newcomers , the exact opposite of a polish distro where everything should be simple

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You’re certainly allowed to express your views on the app center, and any component for that matter, but we should try to keep this particular thread focused on specific activities around Testing Week. Creating a separate topic where those higher level discussions can happen is generally more preferable.

For those features that you would like to see in the app center, I would encourage you to lend your voice on the github project. There is currently an open issue around adding .deb support .

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While I agree with @aaronprisk that the conversation about supporting deb packages in the App Center application should certainly happen over on the git repository, there’s two problems there.

  1. Nobody from the desktop team, product managers or indeed anyone from Canonical that I can see - has interacted with that issue (other than d-loose who created it, and Ana Sereijo who it’s assigned to).
  2. Nobody has replied to that issue recently since the original developer added information about this feature in a past release.

So if I were to join the “conversation” over there, I’d imagine there would be tumbleweed.

The specific questions I’d like to see answers two from the desktop team, product managers - or, anyone who knows is:

  • If support for installing .deb files was added to App Centre, would that ship in Ubuntu?
    or
  • Is there some reason it hasn’t been added already, given the (months old) feedback?

I can surely understand “insufficient developer resources” or “it’s not on the roadmap” or indeed “we don’t want to”. But I think not having any of those answers over on the github or here, leads people to just not know what to do.

Can we just get a straight answer from someone there?

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Thanks @popey for splitting this off. I still recommend adding a comment or +1 to that issue as it will help add some weight to it. At the same time, I can certainly poke the desktop folks and see if they can jump on here and provide some insight.

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Remember this article… https://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2023/10/install-deb-ubuntu-23-10-no-app-error

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Edited the title to specify GUI.

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In the predecessor of the app center we (the ubuntu flutter community with the contributions of Dennis, Olivier, Ana, the other Anna and many others of the desktop team) created, deb side loading was a fully functional feature:

Screencast

The code is still there and could be used to re-add this feature

https://github.com/ubuntu/app-center/blob/archive/main/lib/app/package_installer/package_installer_page.dart
https://github.com/ubuntu/app-center/tree/archive/main/lib/app/common/packagekit
https://github.com/ubuntu/app-center/tree/archive/main/lib/services/packagekit

Ah, if people want to test it, it’s still in this channel

sudo snap refresh snap-store --channel=preview/edge

:person_shrugging:

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Sorry about the lack of earlier response from the Desktop Team on the topic. We still plan to add back that feature but we are currently short on resources and focusing on making the new installer ready for the LTS as our top priority. We will resume the App Center work whenever possible, including the support for local deb installation. Since App Center is a snap the fix will be make available to users on the different Ubuntu series once available.

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Until then, we should add gdebi in the default installtion IMO.

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gdebi is in universe, not main, so cannot be included in the ISO.

The work required (a MIR) to get it from universe to main is likely more work for more people than “just” adding deb support back in to App Center.

What if a stable snap is created? I guess that can be included?

Alternatively the version in preview/edge could be used
It is fully functional

I mean it could be promoted to stable

@seb128 can’t you just promote our version to stable?
Every feature works. And from the feedback I received the users also prefer the design/user experience from the “community” version.

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That’s still extra work to

  • Make a gdebi snap
  • Get approval for various connections required (packagekit-control?)
  • Test it thoroughly
  • Get it audited for inclusion on the ISO
  • Figure out a migration plan for users who have gdebi deb installed

etc

I still feel it would be faster to include the work which has already been done on the snap store snap.

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Gdebi with dependencies is over 100 MB large, just for a thing that you can do with one command “sudo apt install /path/to/file.deb”. I guess it is also better to integrate it in the App Store.

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I tested it, and you are right. The community app store made some things better than the new app store.

1) the community Flutter store can be resized to have a small window (like Gnome Software)
Bildschirmfoto vom 2024-03-13 03-29-02

The new flutter store can’t be resized to have a small window.

2) In the community flutter store fonts can be read with 150% text scale.

In the new flutter store, the text on the left side is always unreadable with 150% text scale, even in fullscreen.

3) And of course the support to install DEB files is missing.

So maybe someone could use the old store from Ubuntu 22.04 (latest/stable), or the community store (preview/edge), until the new Store is ready.

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Yeah I mean it’s clearly frozen in time last year because I’ve stopped the development in favour of the canonical version and to focus on MusicPod. But it’s frozen in a fully functional state.
There are much more features missing in the new store and I think for an LTS it’s definitely not in a shape were it should be shipped in the stable branch for all users.

Here is what I think could be done:

  • promote preview/edge to stable
  • keep the development on the new store only
  • port both design and features to the new store in a pace that works for canonical
  • flip the switch once all features are in to make the new store the stable store again

@seb128 @tim-hm @local-optimum

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Sorry but we are past feature freeze and I don’t think we will realistically consider switching to another codebase just to fix a bug. I don’t think we should re-open the topic of ‘why the new app-center application’, that was a long topic for 23.10 and the rational didn’t change. The way forward here is to fix the issues with the new codebase (we will get to it when possible but we also welcome contributions and will review patches if someone in the community is interested in helping to resolve the issue)

Howdy folks, thanks for tagging me into the conversation. :slight_smile:

@malsabku those three items are all important bugs we should fix, please do add them to the github issues board.

As @seb128 mentioned, our current priority is a focussed push on landing all of the improvements we can in the new installer as this is a more challenging tech stack to update post release.

Improving deb support is something we want to add to the new store and it will be one of the next areas of focus once we have got the installer to a level of quality that we’re happy with for launch.

In the meantime I will see what we can to do to ensure issues on the Github are triaged with clear feedback even if they cannot be immediately actioned.

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