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Ubuntu apps level 2, the Launchpad PPA

One of the primary benefits of the Debian based Linux distributions is the collection of ready to install applications. Ubuntu has leveraged this benefit with its software center and with the Launchpad Personal Package Archive or PPA.

The PPA is a “hosting service for public software development” (Ubuntu News 27 November 2007).

Launchpad is fast becoming a centrepiece of the free software development process, allowing users to report bugs, contribute code, submit translations and generally collaborate in an efficient and transparent fashion. PPAs enable developers to publish ready-to-install packages of their software directly to users.

This is a “level 2” application source for Ubuntu users. Level 1 is the standard collection of Debian applications managed through the installed repository collections. The PPA respositories are not for collections of applications but rather for a developer to make a ‘beta’ software release easily available. Some applications, like Handbrake, are not in the standard Debian repositories. Others, like VLC, are in those repositories but have ‘bleeding edge’ versions available via PPA. See the PPA Overview Page.

The problem is how to find out what is available. Tech Drive-In says the WebUpd8 folks have put together a possible solution: Y PPA Manager: One Stop Shop For All Your PPA Related Needs in Ubuntu Natty. Y PPA Manager is itself a PPA offering. To install it, you add its repository to the local list and then do the install.

[code]sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/y-ppa-manager
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install y-ppa-manager[/code]

Another approach is to use Ubuntu Tweak. That one installs via a package download. It lists the most common PPA’s allowing for select and go installation.

The collection of available applications is not small. The biggest problem may be in finding something you didn’t know you had a use for.

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