There is an interesting and totally unofficial desktop software app in development by the members of the Ubuntu Flutter community.
Developers describe it as “an alternative software store to the Ubuntu Desktop made with Flutter”, the app development technology where Ubuntu is all-in. It was not developed by Canonical (although Canonical staff do contribute to the code) and there is no suggestion that it will ever ship by default on the operating system itself.
It doesn’t have a name or brand name yet, and since it’s still in active development, there are only alpha-quality snapshots to play with.
But I’d say, even in a raw and ready, alpha-grade state, it’s already better than the software store Ubuntu uses!
Ubuntu’s fork of GNOME Software (called ‘Snap Store’) comes standard on recent versions of the operating system. In fact, I avoid using them as much as possible.
Search is slow (and results are skewed toward Snaps); deb regularly installs error messages; and although it may be coincidental, I always find that whenever I experience a system slowdown, the client is there, running in the background, full of RAM, so…
Of course my opinion is just that, mine. Some folks don’t have any issues using the client – power to you, if so – but I do know I’m not the only one experiencing a subpar Snap Store experience compared to the fast, fluid, and Flatpak-friendly provided by the upstream GNOME Software client on Linux distributions such as Fedora.
This annoyance is probably why I’m more excited than most to wrestle an alpha build of a burgeoning unofficial alternative – but what an alternative it is!
Unofficial ‘Ubuntu Software’ Flutter App
The app is fast, has an adaptive user interface and makes it so easy to find, install and manage Snap apps (via the snapd Dart library). It can also handle the installation of software distributed as a .deb (via the PackageKit Dart library).
I won’t criticize some of the UI decisions (except today it’s quite ‘transitional’ on the main page), but even in this first-pass, formative state, the promise on display is clear.
This one is the kind of modern software shopping experience that Ubuntu should bring to its users: modern, fast and well suited to the desired packaging format, namely Snaps.
To do this, you can search Snap apps by name, categories, or a combination of both. You can install, refresh and switch channels for Snap Store and view and manage app permissions right where you manage software – a nice touch.
— Side note: I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Snap apps, but they exist, are part of Ubuntu, and since I write an Ubuntu-based blog, I have to keep my toes in the water regarding them.
With the unofficial Ubuntu Store you can Search the Ubuntu repos for .deb packages, you just need to switch the search filter to ‘deb’ (which I didn’t notice in an earlier version of this article). You can also update, view and remove .deb software that is already installed, which is better than nothing.
If it can handle repo software with the same finesse as Snap software, it would be the perfect replacement for Ubuntu software in my humble opinion. Add the ability to open
.deb installers “with” the app, and perfection!
Download the latest alpha
In summary, this unofficial Ubuntu App Store is a promising alternative to Ubuntu’s official software client. It offers a night and day difference, with an agile, uncluttered user interface, logical navigation and agile integration with multiple software formats.
If you’d like to try it out, you can download the latest alpha from the project’s GitHub release page. Download the zip, extract it and run the binary in it. I tested it on Ubuntu 22.04 and it ‘just worked’.
Please note that you are playing with alpha quality software that it was not developed or endorsed by Canonical. Expect bugs, broken features and the occasional interdimensional space-time anomaly.