We'll see | Matt Zimmerman

a potpourri of mirth and madness

apturl: Quick links for Ubuntu applications

I’d like to bring your attention to a little-used feature of Ubuntu which helps connect the web to the vast repository of software which is packaged for Ubuntu: apturl.  It has been included in Ubuntu installations since 7.10 (Gutsy), but isn’t yet widely used on the web.  Have a look at it and see if it might be useful to you.

Here are some examples of how you can use it:

  • If you’re the maintainer of an application which is packaged in Ubuntu, add an apturl link to your site so that Ubuntu users can simply click to install it: If you’re running Ubuntu, check out Banshee
  • If you’re the author of a how-to document, replace apt-get commands or Add/Remove instructions with a simple hyperlink: Step 1: To get started making screencasts, install gtk-recordmydesktop
  • If you’re writing a blog post or other content where you make reference to an application, include an apturl link so that readers can follow along by installing it: I’m eagerly following the development of Gwibber in Karmic

It would be fantastic if someone came up with a “Get it for Ubuntu” image and a small, embeddable HTML fragment which could be used for these sorts of links.  Meanwhile, please try it out and let us know what you think of it.

Update: WordPress completely destroys the apt: links in this post. Boo! Refer to the wiki pages for syntax examples.


Written by Matt Zimmerman

June 27, 2009 at 23:25

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

19 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. That’s quite cool. It’s a pity though that the association of apt:// with apturl needs to be made manually (in the browser). The result of this is that either

    1. every time you put up an apturl link you also have to link to that wiki page to explain how to use the link


    2. the only people who will know what to do with the link are the ones who would just as happily open a terminal and run “aptitude install copy-paste-appname”…

    Could the most-used browsers have their defaults patched for this?


    June 29, 2009 at 11:25

    • If you use the default Ubuntu browser, firefox, the apt:// is already associated with the apturl utility, there is no setup required.
      It will work just fine for “regular” users.

      João Pinto

      June 29, 2009 at 11:41

      • Aha – thanks for that. Indeed I was being silly: I totally forgot I was using Epiphany :)


        June 29, 2009 at 12:23

  2. That it is not widely used is partly to blame on ubuntu itself: packages.ubuntu.com doesn’t even use it!


    June 29, 2009 at 13:53

  3. apt-url is cool indeed! So cool that we came up with allmyapps to leverage on it. You can see it as a user friendly way to browse the ubuntu package repositories. We will be releasing a new version next week with cool new features (the embeddable HTML fragment is not planned for this release but for the next one!).

    The only problem with apt-url is that it is only available on ubuntu. Indeed, kubuntu does not have it installed by default :(


    June 29, 2009 at 15:50

    • That’s a cool site there, very comprehensive. In the interest of a little healthy competition I’m going to throw pkgb.net out there. It’s cross-distro in a sense; ie linking to pkgb.net/firefox would give you a Firefox install link on Ubuntu, something remotely similar for openSUSE, directions for Fedora.. etc. It’s never going to get any more complex than that, as the site was made to focus on getting the package installed as quickly as possible.

      Jacob Peddicord

      June 29, 2009 at 16:40

      • Hi, just a quick comment to say that we’ve just released a new version of allmyapps which features the ability to create a list with all your favorite applications (packages) and to install it in 1 click (through apt-url). Sharing / Exporting this list is not yet implemented and will come in the next release! Of course, feedbacks are more than welcomed :)


        July 16, 2009 at 09:59

  4. IIRC web gateway to use an alternative syntax (which will redirect eventually to apt: for users that have that enabled) is in the roadmap for the AppCenter.

    In other words (guessing) you may use something like
    If you have apt-url you’ll get automatically redirected to apt:teeworlds, if you’re on a non apt system you’ll see a nice page with information on the package selected.

    Stefano F. (tacone)

    June 29, 2009 at 17:13

    • apt.ubuntu.com doesn’t seem to work now. I only get 404s with Firefox and “You don’t seem to be running Ubuntu” with Chromium.

      And appnr only has a limited selection of applications.

      Antti Kaihola

      December 15, 2009 at 11:40

      • Apturl isnt built for chromium at all so thats why you are getting that message. As for apt.ubuntu.com is old and no one bothered to update it so it doesnt work. Just use the software center.

        Shane Fagan

        December 15, 2009 at 12:20

  5. mdz you can fix the problem by linking like this
    Wordpress thinks its a link and installs the package like “apt:package”


    June 29, 2009 at 19:46

  6. Looks nice! Thank you for this information. :)

    Claude LaFrenière

    June 30, 2009 at 05:50

  7. […] Here are some examples of how you can use it:… via mdzlog.alcor.net […]

  8. I’ve started a wiki page where we collate a list of systems which do not currently support apt-url. Perhaps we can populate this, and then start talking to developers/upstream to ‘fix’ their packages?


    Alan Pope

    June 30, 2009 at 16:25

    • [audio src="http://segphault.cixar.com/img/screenshots/applications/utilities/gwibber/apt-url.ogg" /]

      One down, more to go! (I noticed empathy in karmic already does the right thing, so IMing a friend with an apt://blah works.)


      July 1, 2009 at 03:38

      • That’s way cool!

        Unfortunately the web UI for identi.ca doesn’t seem to recognize the link (I saw your test there)


        July 1, 2009 at 10:21

    • There’s long been a blueprint for this: https://blueprints.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+spec/apturl-omnipresence


      July 9, 2009 at 16:51

      • Thanks, I didn’t know about that. It looks like it’s about where apturl could be supported better in the desktop, and where in Ubuntu documentation and websites we could use it (e.g. packages.ubuntu.com).

        I was more interested in this article in seeing apturl used outside of Ubuntu, e.g. on open source project websites in place of Ubuntu installation instructions, but that’s definitely relevant as well.


        July 9, 2009 at 17:13

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: