A Newbie’s Information to Software program Repositories in Ubuntu

When installing software on Ubuntu from the command line, you may have noticed the word "repository" which is often used in the output. If you are new to the entire Linux universe, this may be a new term for you. What does this mean and why does your system need these repositories?

This article introduces you to the concept of repositories in Ubuntu and provides a brief description of the different types of repositories available.

An introduction to repositories

In general, a repository is a collection of multiple items that are stored together in enormous amounts. On Ubuntu and other Unix-based operating systems, a repository refers to a huge collection of software and packages that you can install on your system.

Unlike Windows and macOS, Linux makes software available to its users in a well-packaged format that differs between different distributions. For example, Debian-based distributions rely on DEB packages. You can also find RPM packages on Fedora, CentOS, and other RHEL-based distributions.

Related: Things Ubuntu Does Better Than Windows

Because repositories are a collection of such packages, users can refer to these repositories to find and download the package they need. You can find almost every tool you might need in them.

Also, different Linux distributions have their own repositories. On Ubuntu, the default settings belong to Ubuntu itself. Aside from that, users can also add any of their choosing by using the Add-apt-repository Command.

The recommended method for installing packages on Ubuntu is to use the official repositories. This is because the packages you can find in these repositories are specifically designed for Ubuntu. In addition, regular updates from the developers ensure that the software is working properly.

Types of repositories in Ubuntu

Ubuntu ships with four different types of repositories. Namely, these are Main, Restricted, Universe and Multiverse. Some, like Main, are open by default. For others, however, you must activate the universe and the multiverse before you can start getting packages.

1. Main

Main includes software and packages that are fully supported by the Ubuntu team. If you installed software from the main repository, Ubuntu will provide you with security updates and bug fixes for these packages on a regular basis.

This repository consists of open source packages that are free to use and redistribute. Also, you will find that Ubuntu comes with most of the packages in the main repository as they are critical utilities that are needed by both the system and the user.

2. Restricted

Although you can use the software available in restricted repositories for free under a free license, you cannot redistribute these packages. The restricted repository contains tools and drivers necessary for the operating system to function properly.

The Ubuntu team does not provide support for such programs because they belong to a different author. Also, Canonical, the company responsible for managing Ubuntu, cannot change the package because most of the software in the restricted repository is proprietary.

3. Universe

As the name suggests, Universe includes every open source package developed for the Linux operating system. These packages are not managed directly by the Ubuntu team. The developer community working on a package is solely responsible for releasing updates and security fixes.

However, Ubuntu can move the package from Universe to Main if the developers agree to follow the specific standards they set.

4. Multiverse

While the above repositories contain packages that are either free or open source, Multiverse contains software that is not available for free. Proprietary programs with no licensing or legal issues are also included in Multiverse.

Installing packages from this repository is not recommended as the risk associated with these programs is significant.

Working with repositories and packages

Linux gives you complete control over which repository to choose when installing packages. You can either go for the trusted Ubuntu repositories if you want to be on the safe side, or you can download Linux software from the universe or multiverse repository. But that's only suggested if you know what you're doing.

Every Linux distribution includes a standard package manager that is responsible for installing, updating, and updating packages on the system. For example, Ubuntu comes with APT and dpkg, and Fedora Linux uses DNF to manage packages. On Arch Linux, you can install and remove software using pacman, the standard package manager that comes with the operating system.

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About the author

Deepesh Sharma
(66 published articles)

Deepesh is Junior Editor for Linux at MUO. He has been writing informational content on the Internet for over 3 years. In his spare time he enjoys writing, listening to music and playing the guitar.

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