Keeping Your Computer Updated
While Ubuntu already includes the things most people need, sometimes you want or need something extra, such as a desktop publishing application for school or a game to pass the time. The easiest way to add these is with Ubuntu Software Center, which is extremely simple to use but has a few limitations. This section also highlights a couple of other options. Work done using one tool to add or remove software is recognized by the related tools, so it is okay to mix and match which ones you use.
Using Ubuntu Software Center
Like other tools discussed later in this chapter, Ubuntu Software Center installs software from the online Ubuntu software repositories.
To launch Ubuntu Software Center, click the Ubuntu Software Center icon in the Launcher. When it is run for the first time, and occasionally afterward, it will take a few moments to initialize itself and the list of available and installed applications. Once this is complete, you will see the main screen, shown in Figure 3-17.
Figure 3-17 Ubuntu Software Center main screen
Click a category to help you refine the listing of available software for specific applications, or use the search box at the upper right to find programs using keywords or program names.
The icons at the top of the window give you access to other features or information. You can sort software by source by changing All Software to one of the other options, such as For Purchase. Click Installed to list all installed software. History shows you what you have installed, updated, or uninstalled and when.
You can change your software sources further using the menu in the top panel and selecting Edit > Software Sources.
By default, Ubuntu Software Center shows all applications that are supported by Ubuntu, including those supported by community volunteers called MOTUs, for Masters of the Universe (more on them in Chapter 10). Although using Ubuntu Software Center to install new applications from both the officially supported Ubuntu-provided repositories as well as the community repositories is perfect for most users, there are times when a more conservative approach to software choices may be appropriate. In this case, you may limit the number of applications shown from the View menu by selecting Canonical-Maintained Applications to see only those pieces of software that are actively watched over and updated by Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu. This is sometimes preferred in corporate environments that desire or require a stronger guarantee of support.
For many people, this is all you need to know to install or uninstall software. Chapter 4 goes into a bit more detail for those who are interested in the technological aspects.