Ubuntu – Why can’t I update applications without upgrading the whole OS


In Ubuntu, once a release is out the software one has installed receives security updates only. In Windows, I can get new versions of programs with new features. How can Windows do this and why can't Ubuntu?

Best Answer

This is a problem that the Ubuntu Software Center team is in the progress of solving.

The problem is that Ubuntu traditionally draws most of its applications from the in-development branch of Debian GNU/Linux—another free operating system—and then "freezes" a snapshot of it for inclusion in a release. This body of community-maintained software—called "the universe"—consists of 80,000 software packages; Ubuntu developers couldn't possibly provide major updates for all this software, on every supported release, while still maintaining the same level of quality.

In order to resolve this issue, Ubuntu has created the MyApps developer portal. Now that Ubuntu is a large platform with over twenty million users, it is hoped that developers will be interested in submitting apps directly to Ubuntu, and release periodic updates to their software across Ubuntu releases.

For "the universe"—which the Software Center team hopes to eventually be a small fraction of available software—the "backports" system of optional software upgrades (which already exists at a half-functional level) will be scaled up.

The Software Center interface for major software updates has been designed by a Canonical UI employee, but is not yet implemented:

Software Center Updates image

If you are interested in the future of application delivery in Ubuntu, I recommend watching Ubuntu Software Center and the Future of the Universe.

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