Ubuntu Software Center (USC) was introduced in Ubuntu 9.10, and has since been a one-stop shop for installing and removing software. It actually made finding, installing, buying and managing applications a lot easier and user friendly. As far as features and design are concerned, it does its job perfectly, but I personally feel that it’s a bit slow (especially during start up) and often hangs.
If you are a regular USC user, and are looking for a faster alternative, then let me introduce you to App Grid, a fully featured, yet lightweight, software center equivalent.
It Is Faster
When I installed the application, the first thing that I did was to compare its loading time with USC. The result: It beat the hell out USC. App Grid took just 1 second to load, while USC takes more than 5 seconds.
Look and Feel
Once App Grid loads, you’ll see a list of popular applications, with each entry containing the app’s thumbnail and a brief description, as well as whether it is currently installed.
You can filter the list based on categories including arts, games, productivity, programming, sciences, and system. In addition, there are options to view all the installed apps as well as to sort the available applications alphabetically or based on popularity. Obviously, there is also a search box for you to search specific applications. You can also sign in with your Ubuntu One account to review and purchase apps.
I tried searching for Wireshark, and found the search to be quick.
Clicking on an entry takes you to the application specific page, which is divided into two columns. The left one contains a bigger snapshot along with the description and other details of the app, while the right column contains reviews, with coloured emoticons giving you a quick idea about how users have rated the app. All this information is fetched from the same sources that the Ubuntu Software Center uses. While everything looks great here, one thing that could possibly annoy you is the lack of scrolling in the section.
As I already had Wireshark installed on my system, there obviously wasn’t any option to install, but the page contained options to launch or remove it. Then I tried installing another popular app: VLC player. This time the page contained an option to install the app, and clicking on it triggered the download process.
While the download is in progress, you can click the “Installing…” button at the top to view the progress. Here is what the progress window looks like:
To install App Grid, just run the following commands:
Or head to the app’s official website to download the .deb file.
Graphically, Ubuntu Software Center looks great and pleasing to the eye, but if you’re someone who’s just interested in getting the work done fast, then App Grid is for you. The application offers almost all features that USC provides, and with a simple UI and faster performance, it is best-suited for slow machines. The only drawback the app has is that it is not open source. Yes, it’s copyrighted, and it lets you know about this when you first run it:
Are you satisfied with the Ubuntu Software Center? If you have already tried App Grid, share your experience with us here.