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Configuring Software Repositories

Ubuntu uses software repositories to get information about available software that can be installed onto your system. By default, it only allows access to a small portion of software (even though this software is officially supported by Ubuntu). However, Ubuntu is based on a much older Linux distribution called Debian. Debian has access to more than 17,000 different packages, which means that Ubuntu can have access to these packages, too.

To do this, you need to use one of Ubuntu's GUI tools, found under System, Administration, Software Sources and shown in Figure 2.2. On the first tab (Ubuntu Software), you have five options to choose from, depending on your specific requirements. It is entirely up to you which options you check, but make sure that as a minimum the first check box is checked to allow you to select "official" software with Canonical support for Ubuntu. The more boxes you check, the wider your selection of software. It's also a good idea to make sure that the Proprietary Drivers box is checked in order to benefit from drivers that could enhance your system's performance.

Figure 2.2

Figure 2.2 Enable both Universe and Multiverse repositories to allow access to a huge variety of software for Ubuntu.

Once you are happy with your selections, switch to the Updates tab to configure Ubuntu's behavior when updates are available (see Figure 2.3). By default both the important security updates and recommended updates are checked to ensure that you have the latest bug fixes and patches. You can also choose to receive proposed updates and back-ports (software that is released for a newer version of Ubuntu but re-programmed to be compatible with 7.10), but we'd only recommend this if you are happy to carry out testing for the community as any updated software from these repositories can have an adverse effect on your system.

Figure 2.3

Figure 2.3 Configure which updates you want, and you want them to be handled in the Updates tab of Software Sources.

Ubuntu also allows you to configure how often it checks for updates, as well as how they are installed. By default Ubuntu checks daily for updates and, if there are any available, will notify you. However, you can change the frequency (something which is recommended if you want to have a structured update policy) and the actions Ubuntu carries out when it finds available updates. We recommend keeping the notification only option as this allows you to see what updates are available prior to them being installed. If you want to save time then choose Download All Updates in the Background to allow Ubuntu to silently download the updates prior to you choosing to install them.

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