Last month developers at Canonical, the commercial backers of Ubuntu, unceremoniously dropped the Synaptic Package Manager from the default installation of Ubuntu Oneric Ocelot , which is due out in October. The common belief is, this was done to free up space for the Deja Dup backup application. Also, this was seen by some as duplication of work being done by the two applications, Ubuntu Software Centre and Synaptic Package Manager i.e; UI for searching and installing packages from repositories.
However, Ubuntu Software Centre (USC) is far from a complete replacement for Synaptic. There is more to it than just searching and installing applications. A lot of advanced work cannot be done on the USC eg. locking an installation, downgrading or upgrading of a software or providing details of the installation package.
In fact, the search functionality of USC is also appalling. Here is an example. Below is a screenshot of USC and Synaptic, side by side, trying to search the available versions of the popular virutalisation software, VirtualBox. The screenshot will tell you how the two applications fared.
As you can see from the above screenshot, the USC fails to find the latest version for VirtualBox which is 4.1. Synaptic on the other hand, very nicely lists all the available versions. Also, the way USC lists the available applications, is very cluttered and confusing to understand. Compared to that, Synaptic’s list menu is far more easier to read and figure out.
A lot of users might say, that’s an older version, used in 11.04. The newer version will be better! Don’t be mistaken my friends, I am using the latest version of the USC from a development repo. Have a look at the screenshot on your right! The fundamental job of this application is to search all apps by the name, and it goes wrong there!
A few others might say, that’s the beauty of Ubuntu/ open source/ freedom, you can install it from the repos.. blah! ..blah!! But why should I ? Why do I have to make the extra effort ? Why can’t I get a proper software which works flawlessly ? And why in the name of software freedom and openness is Canonical and the Ubuntu developers allowed to continuously push half baked software down the consumers throat with every new release? Why can’t they wait to finish an application before releasing it? Anyone?